How to Write a Landlord Reference Letter (+Free Template)
August 9, 2023
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A Guide To Landlord Reference Letters
As a landlord, it’s only a matter of time before one of your tenants moves out. And when they do, they might contact you to ask for a landlord reference letter. What is this, and how do you write one?
A landlord reference letter is a short statement verifying a tenant’s residency at a property and the landlord’s experience with them. Tenants often ask for these when moving out at the request of their new landlord.
In this article, we’ll teach you the best way to write a solid landlord reference letter (plus a free template you can use to create your own!).
Why Do Tenants Need Rental Application References?
Why do tenants need rental application references in the first place? If you’re a thorough landlord, you will require your applicants to submit a rental application personal reference from their previous landlord to get a sense of whether the tenant is a good fit for your property. A prior landlord can tell you about the tenants’ payment regularity/habits, treatment of the property and other tenants, and any problems that may have come up during the lease term. There’s no better predictor of a future tenancy’s success than a prior one’s.
Writing a Landlord Reference Letter
Let’s say a good tenant of yours decides to move out—maybe they got a new job, are transferring to another state, or simply have other reasons for moving. They ask you for a brief reference letter to send to their next landlord. How do you write one?
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Introduce yourself.
- State when you were the tenant’s landlord and which property they rented.
- State your overall satisfaction level with the tenancy.
- Describe the tenant’s regularity with rent payments.
- Mention any lease violations or other major issues with the tenancy.
- Say whether you would rent to this tenant again.
- Include your contact information.
- Sign and date the letter.
Some adjectives you might use to describe a good tenant include friendly, clean, responsive, communicative, quiet, and respectful. Try not to get into personal facts or beliefs about the tenant—instead, focus only on their suitability as a tenant (e.g., how reliably they paid rent, how clean they left the property, how they treated neighbors, etc.).
In general, keep your letter brief, honest, and to the point. The new landlord only needs enough information to support or deny what they’ve already learned about the tenant through their screening reports.
What NOT to Include in Your Letter
Do not include personal details that relate to a federally protected class and that the recipient would not reasonably already know, as sharing this information could be considered discriminatory. This means you should not mention the tenant’s race, color, national origin, familial status, disability, or religion in your letter. These membership classes are protected under federal fair housing law and aren’t relevant to the tenant’s ability to fulfill lease expectations.
It’s also not a good idea to mention any of the following about a tenant, as these are common fair housing classes protected by state governments:
- First language
- Citizenship status
- Veteran/military status
- Marital status
- Sexual preferences or identity
- Source of income
Landlord Statement Template
Here’s a landlord statement template following the above structure you can use or modify:
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is [FIRST AND LAST NAME], and I am the [LANDLORD/PROPERTY MANAGER] for the property at [RENTAL PROPERTY ADDRESS]. I am writing on behalf of [TENANT FIRST AND LAST NAME], who rented the above-mentioned property from [DATE] to [DATE].
[TENANT] was a satisfactory tenant and member of my rental community. [TENANT] has a strong history of on-time rental payments and did not miss any payments or incur any late fees while residing at my property. They were cordial and friendly to neighbors, submitted maintenance requests responsively, and left the property in good condition. Their [PET] is well behaved and did not cause any damage or disturbances.
Overall, [TENANT] was a respectful and communicative tenant, and I would rent to them again.
If you have further questions, you can reach me at (___ ) ___ ____ or [EMAIL ADDRESS].
[BUSINESS NAME OR PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY]
How to Describe Lease Violations or Concerns
Let’s be honest: Not all your tenants deserve the high praise in the template above. How should you honestly, but fairly, describe tenants who were less than satisfactory?
If your tenant had some issues with late payments but was overall responsible in getting rent paid, you might include a statement like this:
[TENANT] submitted most rental payments on time but incurred fees on [DATE] and [DATE] for late payments. In both cases, [TENANT] submitted their payment promptly after receiving notification of the late fee.
If your tenant had a conflict with neighbors while residing at your property, you might say something like this:
Neighbors submitted complaints that [TENANT] was playing loud music during weeknight evenings after 9:00 p.m. After the issue was brought to my attention and a formal notice was sent, [TENANT] corrected the behavior and remained friendly with neighbors.
And of course, if the tenant did something really bad, you would want to communicate that as clearly as possible:
Neighboring residents complained several times that [TENANT] acted aggressively toward them while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. After receiving tips from neighbors, the local police department found [TENANT] to have several controlled substances on the premises. I would not rent to [TENANT] again due to these violations.
Using the tips and templates provided above, there’s no reason not to help a fellow landlord learn more about a tenant or to help a good tenant secure a new rental.