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The Best Ways for Renters to Provide Proof of Income

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Proof of income is a key part of the applicant screening process for almost every property manager or landlord.  After all, you need to make sure applicants will actually be able to pay the rent before you approve them, right?  Because of that, you probably already know about all the most commonly requested proof of income documents — pay stubs, bank statements, and W-2s.  But these aren’t the only ways applicants can provide proof of income.  Here are a few less common documents that are still effective in allowing you to verify income.

Employer income verification letter

A letter from the applicant’s employer stating exactly how much they’re paid is an easy, straightforward way to verify income.  You’ll learn exactly how much the applicant earns right now directly from the source.  As an added bonus, the employer may provide additional information about the applicant and their standing at the company, meaning a letter like this can effectively serve as a bonus reference.

Tax returns

While W-2s are the most common tax document used for income verification, IRS Form 1040 can serve the same purpose just as well.  This form shows the applicant’s individual tax return, and, like a W-2, states the income on an official government document, letting you know that it comes from a trustworthy source.

Pension distribution statement

If you have any retired applicants, they should have access to a document called Form 1099-R.  This is an excellent proof of income document for retirees, since it shows all the applicant’s retirement benefits concisely in one place, giving you a full picture of how much the applicant earns in retirement.

Court award letter

Some applicants may receive court-ordered compensation that serves as a significant portion of their income.  In a case like that, you should be able to get a letter from the court verifying exactly what the applicant receives, either via the applicant or directly from the court itself.  You’ll be able to see exactly what the applicant is entitled to and confirm that they’ll be able to make rent payments reliably.

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