How Do Apartments Verify Income?

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Written By Alina Sokirko

When you apply for an apartment, the landlord will need to verify your income to ensure that you can afford the monthly rent. They will usually ask you how much you make on your application, but they will also need proof in the form of financial documents to verify that your claims are accurate. There are several different financial documents landlords use to verify your income, and they may ask for all of them or just a few to better understand your financial picture. Here is a closer look at the essential documents needed to rent an apartment.

Pay Stubs

One of the main items they will look at is your weekly or bi-weekly paystubs. Pay stubs are checks from an employer that show how much you were paid and how much was deducted for taxes and other contributions. They make it easier for the landlord to fully understand how much you bring home each week after taxes. They will also show how many hours you worked, your rate, and how much you’ve earned for the year thus far. All this information will help the landlord get a better sense of how much disposable income you have.

Bank Statements

The landlord will also likely ask you for your bank statements to see how much savings you have and how financially responsible you are. While they likely won’t look too deeply at your spending history (unless it’s cause for concern), they want to see that you generally make more than you spend and have enough restraint to put away a bit of savings. They also want to know whether or not you have a bit of a financial cushion to help you sustain yourself if anything happens. Plus, if you have any investment or retirement accounts, this may also help you appear more stable to the landlord.

W-2s

A W-2 is the tax form your employer will present to you at the end of the year to verify your earned income. This document must be submitted to the IRS when you file your tax return to ensure that they withheld the right amount of taxes. Your W-2 will provide your landlord with similar information to a paystub, but on a yearly scale. It will let them know how much money you earned for the previous year and give them a better sense of how much you should make in the coming year. 

Tax Returns

In addition to your W-2, the landlord may also ask to see your tax returns. This is especially true if you have multiple income streams outside of your normal job. For instance, if you take on any additional freelancing work or you have revenue from investments like rental properties. The landlord may ask to see several years’ worth of tax returns to ensure that you’ve had a stable income for a long time. Or they may just ask to see the previous year’s tax return to verify how much money you make. Either way, it’s important to make sure you have them available because this is one of the most critical documents required. 

Letter from Employer

Your landlord may also request a letter from your current employer, also known as a letter of employment or income verification letter. This letter will confirm your current work and position at the company and your salary or hourly wage. This letter can be filled out by your manager or HR rep and should include their contact information in case the landlord has questions. It will also confirm that all the documents you provided are authentic and accurate and that you are currently still employed by the organization. Not all landlords require a letter of employment as long as you have all the other necessary documents. But it never hurts to have the letter ready. 

Business Profit and Loss Statement

If you are self-employed, you may not have all the normal documentation landlords ask for, such as pay stubs and an employment letter. So, they may ask you for alternative documentation to verify your income. A business profit and loss statement generated by your CPA or bookkeeper may suffice to prove that you have sufficient income to afford the apartment. Some landlords may want to see that you’ve been in business for a certain period before accepting you as a tenant. But, as long as you have the documentation to prove that you have enough disposable income, you should be fine.