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16 Ways to Show Proof of Income When Apartment Hunting

September 27, 2022
Providing proof of income is a requirement to secure an apartment rental. Continue to learn 16 acceptable proof of income documents a landlord won’t question.

Landlords and property managers want a clear understanding of your finances and whether or not you’ll pay rent or can afford to do so. That’s why proof of income is a standard part of the apartment application process and occurs before you sign a lease agreement.

Showing proof of income for an apartment is crucial, though it can also be challenging to know how to start or what you'll need. Time is of the essence when you live in competitive cities with low rental inventory. Don’t worry. We did all the work for you, so you have everything you need to know about apartment income requirements, including 16 ways to show proof of income for rental application purposes.

1. Pay Stubs

You should receive pay stubs at the end of each pay period. It should detail your hourly rate or salary and how often you work. Your pay stub may also be used to verify other details in the tenant screening process, like who employs you.

2. Tax Returns

Tax form 1040 details all the sources of income that you've earned over the tax year. Landlords usually want more than a tax form because it only proves your income from the previous year. Your landlord will still need to verify your job and salary status to ensure an accurate report.

3. Bank Statements

Using bank statements as proof of income for renting is common for the self-employed or those with side hustles in addition to their day job. Without a traditional source of income, landlords need a better idea of how much you really earn. Remember that a bank statement only details the amount of money you deposit in the account and the amount coming out.

4. Income Letter From an Employer

Your employer will provide a proof-of-income letter that says how much you make. If you're new to your job and haven't collected a paycheck, you'll need a proof of income letter.

5. Court-Ordered Payments

Any alimony payments, settlement fees, or child support are also considered forms of regular income. The court will provide you with a letter detailing the agreements. If you don't have one, speak to your lawyer or call your local courthouse to track one down.

6. Social Security Documents

If you receive social security income, you can submit it as proof of income. You'll need a letter or other documentation that details your monthly benefits. You can also request one online here.

7. Unemployment Documents

Unemployment assistance from getting laid off is also part of your verifiable income. But, of course, there are caps on unemployment benefits. Contact your unemployment office in your county to ask for an unemployment compensation letter.

8. Pension

You can also prove income with pension statements. Landlords will probably ask for a tax form 1099-R to help verify your annual pension distribution income.

9. Severance Statement

Getting laid off or leaving your job isn't always a dealbreaker for landlords. Depending on your job, you may have received a generous severance package to serve as your income. Their severance statement shows how much the company pays you. Ask your employer to provide the document.

10. Disability Insurance

If you’re wondering how to verify income without a current job, don’t worry. Although disability insurance benefits are not classified as income for tax-reporting purposes, they are still meant to replace income. Because of this purpose, you can use disability insurance benefits for your proof of income documents.

11. Worker’s Compensation

Getting injured on the job may lead to a workers comp claim that serves as part of your income. In some cases, it may replace your income entirely. Submit your evidence of income with a letter from the court or an insurance company.

12. W-2 Income Statement

A W-2 statement is used for tax purposes. It also provides information about your annual earnings. If you have multiple employers, your landlord may want to see a W-2 from each.

13. 1099 Form

If you earned over $400 in self-employment income, you should have received a 1099 form. It lists all your income over the past year and details how much tax you pay on that income.

14. Annuity Statement

An annuity statement helps a landlord understand how much you receive from an agreement with an insurance company. These statements show the amount you earn and indicate a payout schedule from the insurance company.

15. Interest and Dividend Income

If you’re an entrepreneur with investments, you can also provide documentation regarding your dividends and interest payments. Your landlord may also ask for your 1040 to verify they were reported and check other areas of your income.

16. Bonus and Incentive Payment Statement

Bonus and incentive payments can be a significant portion of your income. Therefore, if income requirements for apartments are above your base pay, you want to include any bonus or incentive pay statements in your apartment income verification process.

How to Consider Your Rent-to-Income Ratio

Knowing how to show proof of income is one step in the process, as you also need to afford your rent comfortably. Apartment List's rent calculator is a valuable tool that'll help you calculate the amount you can comfortably afford for monthly rent payments.

The rule of thumb is not to spend more than 30% of your monthly income on rent. Your household income should also be 2 to 3 times your monthly rent. For example, if your rent is $1,000 per month, your landlord will want you to earn around $3,000 per month to afford your rent comfortably. However, if you live in an expensive area like New York City, it's common for new renters to pay much more.

5 Tips for Meeting Proof of Income Requirements

As you now know, there are several examples of proof of income. Additionally, here are some tips for regarding apartment rental income requirements and understanding what qualifies as proof of income:

  • Verify what documents are needed by a landlord in advance.
  • Bring along a few records if your property managers prefer one document over another.
  • Typical income requirements for apartments help tenants figure out what landlords are looking for and what type of rent is realistic for their income.
  • If you're self-employed, you'll still have to put in extra effort to find unique ways to prove income.
  • The 30% rule doesn’t account for student loans, credit card debt, or if you pay for your own health insurance.

Final Thoughts

Now, you no longer have to ask, “how do apartments verify income?”

Remember that landlords and property managers want high-quality tenants that set them up for long-term financial stability. So put yourself in their shoes and make the verifiable income process as smooth as possible. Understanding the acceptable proof of income options and bringing extra documentation, references, professionalism, and patience will go a long way in securing your next lease agreement.

Proof of Income FAQs

What Is Verifiable Income?

Verifiable monthly income for apartment application purposes verifies that you already have a reliable income source, allowing you to comfortably pay for your rent. Your landlord or property manager will require documentation to support the income listed on your apartment application.

How Can I Show Proof of Income Without a Pay Stub?

If you’re wondering how to get proof of income without a pay stub, you’re in luck. There are plenty of proof of income examples aside from a pay stub, including tax returns, bank statements, income letters, court-ordered payments, social security documents, unemployment documents, pension, severance statements, disability insurance statements, worker’s compensation, W-2 income statements, 1099 forms, annuity statements, interest and dividend income statements, and bonus and incentive payment statements.

What Should a Proof of Income Letter Say?

A proof of income document should make it clear that you make the money you do to be able to afford the rent. As such, a proof of income letter should include your name, job title, phone number, email address, name of your employer, employer’s phone number, employer’s email address, as well as income details (hourly rate or salary).

How Do I Get Proof of Income Letter?

If bank statements as proof of income is not an option for you, you might opt for a proof of income letter. In these instances, you will need to speak with your employer directly to acquire this letter.

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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