What would you do... if a detective called you about your tenant?

Ok, so yesterday a detective called me from a police department about 60 miles away. He said someone who moved into one of our rental properties is suspected of stealing someone else’s identity - for electrical service that is currently turned on at that residence. Yikes! He wanted all kinds of information on a tenant, including her social security number, and I said…though I want to help…I shouldn’t release anyone’s personal information without some legal documentation. He said he’ll get a subpoena and mail it to me, then that should take care of that, and I’ll give him whatever he needs. That should cover my butt legally. Anyway - my plan is to NOT tell the tenant anything about ME talking to the detective, even if he/she asks. Note though I’m sure the detective is going to call the tenant looking for information

What would you guys do in a situation like this?

We have had a lots of Federal officers staying with us over the years. They all have security clearances. Regularly we get investigators here who want to confirm rent paid, address, any problems, any drinking or drugs, and “Have you ever seen that person under stress?” and “How did they react?”

We confirm the ID, pull the file, and give 'em the scoop. There have been a couple of guys who I would have LIKED to tattle on but the investigators only seem to ask about the nice tenants!


I would not do it on the phone. The police needs to come see me and show me credentials.

I have the same policy and include a statement in the rental agreement stating I can disclose private information to law enforcement upon written request.

I would also look at the detective’s ID and then give him the info.


I cooperate with the police, but anyone can call you on the phone and pretend to be anyone.

Get the officer’s name, look up the phone number for his station in the phone book (don’t use the number that he gives you) and call him back.

I would not, however, give a tenant’s SS #. A policeman can find that with no problem if he needs it. He doesn’t need to get it from the landlord. Just about any other information would be fair game.

My application gives me permission to do criminal background on the applicant, and I am going to insist that gives me signed permission to talk to the police about my tenant’s criminal behavior.

UPDATE: I got an official grand jury subpoena in the mail, and I had to (and gladly did so) provide a ton of info to the cop. It looks like that tenant is in trouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuble. LOL.