What Documents Can a Landlord Request to Verify Income? [7 Legitimate Options]

Making sure your tenant has enough income to support rental payments is one of the most important things you need to screen for as a landlord.

Sufficient income tends to mean timely and consistent rental payments, which is what every landlord wants. While there are many ways to verify income, landlords often rely on specific documents to do so.

In this article, we will discuss the some of the most popular and effective methods to verify a tenant’s income.

Let’s get started.

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

We may earn commissions from products and services that are purchased or recommended through our website as part of our affiliate partnerships. As an Amazon affiliate, we may earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Paystubs

Paystubs are one of the most common documents that landlords use to verify income. It is the perfect vehicle for confirming income because it contains all of the essential information, including the tenant’s gross and net income.

It also shows the frequency of payment (e.g. weekly, biweekly, or monthly), which can come in handy when figuring out how often rent should be paid. That being said, it is not without its drawbacks and risks.

For example, it is incredibly easy to generate fake paystubs, so you should use caution and not rely just on paystubs. You can, of course, ask the tenant to log in to the paystub website while you are there, but a less in your face method can direct verification of income by the employer (more on that later).

If you want to know more about how tenants lie to landlords to get rentals, check out my article on the topic here. It gives helpful advice on what landlords can to do protect themselves against these types of deceptive tactics.

2. Bank statements

Bank statements can also be used to verify income, particularly if the tenant is paid through direct deposit. Bank statements show all deposits made into the account, including payroll deposits. This can provide a more complete picture of the tenant’s income, as it may include bonuses, overtime pay, or other income sources.

A similar word of warning here. Given technological tools available today, it is not hard to doctor a bank statement. This should be used in conjunction with other verification methods.

3. Tax returns

Tax returns are another solid way for a landlord to verify income.

They include information on wages, salaries, tips, and other forms of income. They are also as official as you can get and hard to fake, especially if you use my Form 4506 tip below. The nice thing about tax returns is that they can also show deductions and credits, which can affect a tenant’s net income.

While tax returns are not typically requested for every tenant, they may be required for self-employed tenants or those with irregular income. The one drawback of a tax return is that it is dated. A paycheck shows current income, but a tax return only show how much you made last year. A lot can change in a year, obviously, so you need to bear that in mind.

The best way to confirm that the tax return is legitimate is to have the tenant fill out a Form 4506, which requests the IRS to release the tax return directly to you.

4. W-2s

W-2s are official tax forms that show how much an employee made for a given year (as well as how much federal and state taxes were deducted). Although not as detailed as tax returns, W-2s can be a valid way to verify a tenant’s income for the previous year.

5. Offer letters

Offer letters can be used to verify a tenant’s income if they are a new employee or have recently received a promotion or raise. Offer letters typically include information on the employee’s salary or hourly rate, as well as any bonuses or benefits they may be eligible for.

6. Direct Verifications from Employers

A landlord may contact an employer of a tenant to verify employment and income. Typically, they will ask the employer to confirm that the tenant works there, confirm dates of employment (when they started), and how much the tenant makes.

A lot of the other methods of verification we discussed above, such as paystubs, W-2 and offer letters, can be confirmed with this method. But you want to be careful when doing this too.

Sometimes unscrupulous tenants can provide numbers of their friends as employer contact. Obviously, their friends will confirm whatever information the tenant has provided.

Instead, you should contact the employer independently via their number of their public website and ask to speak to the manager or contact that the employee provided.

7. 1099s

For self-employed individuals or those who operate a business, tax returns, bank statements, profit and loss statements (a certified one preferably, which you can learn more about here), and 1099s may be your best bet in terms of verifying income.

A 1099 form is issued to independent contractors and freelancers, and shows their total earnings for the year. Landlords can request the most recent 1099 as proof of income.

Other Options

In addition to the methods listed above, landlords may also consider other options for verifying income, depending on the prospective tenant’s situation.

For example, if they are on government assistance, they may request a letter from a government agency confirming that the tenant receives public assistance. If they are retired or any living off income from their assets, they may ask for proof of retirement income or investment income.


So there you have it – some of the most common ways that a landlord may confirm income. Depending on the circumstances, landlords may ask for one or more of these items and use them collectively to get a better sense of the potential tenant’s financial condition.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top