Most experienced landlords would likely agree that it's not a good idea to judge a tenant solely on how they come across during your interview or meeting with them. Even if a prospective tenant appears to be the perfect tenant for your rental property, it's still important to properly screen them.
As part of the screening process, most landlords provide a rental application form for their tenants to fill out. Another important component to a comprehensive tenant screening process is the employment and salary verification form.
Proof of income for a rental application
It can be disastrous for a landlord not to obtain proof of income from a prospective tenant before agreeing to rent property to them. Verifying a tenant's employment and salary can help give you peace of mind that this particular tenant will be able to pay the rent on your rental property.
Of course, obtaining employment and income verification doesn't guarantee that a tenant will pay their rent, or that they will do so consistently in a timely manner. But signing a rental agreement without proof of income can be a recipe for disaster.
Using an employment and salary verification request form
You'll be asking for employment and salary information on the rental application form itself, but an employment and salary verification form is a form you'll be submitting to the tenant's employer to verify the employment information your prospective tenant has provided.
Any verification form you use should include a consent section for your prospective tenant to sign. This section gives their employer consent to release the verification information you need. This is essential, as many employers will not release information about their employees without written consent.
Another good practice is to independently confirm the employer's contact information as provided in the tenant's rental application form. Check the address online, so you know you're sending the request form to the right place, and also call the employer directly, to obtain the name of the person in their human resources department who is in charge of employment verification requests.
While it may seem to be an unnecessary step to do this additional research instead of relying on the information your prospective tenant has given you, doing so is prudent. Not only do you eliminate the possibility that the tenant provided you with fake or fraudulent employment information—for example, giving you the address of a friend instead of their actual employer—but also you speed up the process, by making sure your verification request goes to the right person.
Questions to ask in your employment verification form
In addition to providing your potential tenant's employer with the tenant's name and consent, your form also should give the employer your contact information for the return of the verification form.
There also are a number of questions you should ask, to confirm the information your prospective tenant has given you and to provide sufficient proof of income. These questions include:
- Date the tenant began working for the company
- Confirmation that the tenant is currently employed with the company, and their current job title
- Tenant's monthly or annual salary (or, if the tenant is paid hourly, the hourly rate and number of hours per week or month that they work)
You also can ask questions about the tenant's prospects for a promotion or a salary increase (or both) or an assurance that the tenant is not likely to be terminated in the near future. However, there's no guarantee that an employer will answer such questions, as they deal with the company's projections for the future rather than the tenant's current position with the company.
Verification of a prospective tenant's employment and current salary is a sound action step for all landlords. Having a tenant's employer confirm the details of the tenant's employment, including income, is an invaluable tool in your tenant screening and selection process.