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Do landlords verify income?

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Question: Do landlords verify income?
Answer:

Yes. If you're considering applying for a low-income apartment at a tax credit property, expect that the landlord or property manager will need verification of income and assets. The tax credit program specifically requires verification, given how much is at stake.

As an adult applicant or household member, you should expect a landlord to ask you to sign a consent form authorizing the collection of information, including contacting third parties, to very your income. Note that if you choose not to sign the consent form, the landlord won't be able to consider you for a low-income apartment. Also, you and and any children at least six years old who will live with you in your apartment must either provide a Social Security number or a certification that you never received one.

Just as landlords check income for eligibility when you apply for a low-income apartment (called "initial certification") and each year at annual recertification, expect your landlord to ask for your cooperation in verifying your income each year as well.

Landlords must use verification methods that are acceptable to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are responsible for determining if the verification documentation they receive is adequate and credible. HUD accepts these three methods of verification (in order of acceptability): third-party verification, review of documents, and household certification. If the first option (third-party verification) isn't available, landlords must document the reason in your tenant file before pursuing any less acceptable forms of verification.

HUD's preferred method for landlords to get third-party verification is written documentation sent directly by the third-party source, through the mail or over the Internet. Landlords are required to deal directly with third-party sources (to avoid document tampering), so don't be surprised if a landlord rejects your offer to hand-deliver a verification document from, say your employer or bank.

Landlords may also verify information orally, by talking with third-party sources over the phone. Although not as reliable as written documentation, it may be necessary if third parties don't respond to written verification requests.

As mentioned above, if third-party verification isn't possible, landlords may review documents (for example, a series of pay stubs when employers refuse to respond to a landlord's employment verification request). As a last resort, a landlord who cannot get proper verification may rely on a household's sworn, notarized statement (or affidavit) stating the amount and type of income at issue.

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