Landlord Reference Letter Made Simple: 6 Pro Tips

Get tips for writing a landlord reference letter for your previous tenants with this comprehensive guide.

By
Nichole Stohler
|
Last Updated
December 22, 2023
Landlord Reference Letter Made Simple: 6 Pro Tips

Ever had a former tenant ask you for a reference letter? As a landlord, you may wonder what details to include that can help other prospective landlords. What should you cover, and what's better left unsaid?

A landlord reference letter gives the next landlord a glimpse into an applicant’s character, financial history, and rental history, allowing them to make a decision on the prospective tenant.

So where do you start? In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of reference letters from a landlord’s perspective. You’ll discover what information to share and what to omit. We’ll also look at a landlord reference letter template so you can see first-hand how to find the right balance.

New and veteran landlords alike will learn to write helpful references here. So, let’s dive in!

What is a landlord reference letter?

Simply put, a landlord reference letter is a document written by a previous landlord that gives a personal evaluation and endorsement of a tenant based on their rental history and character.

This tenant recommendation letter serves as part of a comprehensive tenant screening process conducted by a prospective landlord. It goes beyond traditional background checks by providing a more personal and relevant perspective on the tenant's character and reliability.

What should be in a landlord reference letter?

In a landlord letter of recommendation, you should share enough details to paint a clear picture of the tenant’s reliability during their time renting from you.

Keep things focused on directly backing up your assessment with relevant examples. Your letter should include:

  • The date that the letter was written.
  • Your name, physical and email address, and phone number.
  • Personalized greeting with the recipient's name.
  • Address of the rental property in question.
  • Dates of the tenant's previous lease.
  • Comprehensive overview of the tenant's rent payment history, including any instances of late rent payments.
  • Information regarding any lease violations or breaches.
  • Evaluation of the tenant's property maintenance during their tenancy.
  • Mention of any positive or negative experiences related to pets, if applicable.
  • Closing statement reflecting the landlord's willingness to rent to the tenant again.
  • Your signature.

Landlord letter reference tips

So, you're ready to write a landlord letter. Now what? Here are some key pointers to make sure your rental reference letter is effective and professional:

Be honest and relevant

Your landlord reference letter should share insights into the tenant’s performance and reliability as a renter. Provide accurate and true examples that enable the new landlord to responsibly assess your previous tenant.

Specifically, focus on details relevant to being a strong tenant—things like their payment history, property care, rental policy compliance, and communication skills. Note areas where they excelled as well as areas of improvement, and offer context if needed to explain concerning patterns.

The goal is to equip the future landlord with the information needed to evaluate this tenant by spotlighting behaviors that matter to you as a property owner. Keep details focused, truthful and relevant.

Keep information simple and concise

Make sure that the information you provide is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Use plain language to share details about the tenant's rental history and behavior.

Key points the new landlord wants to know about your previous tenant are:

  • Did they communicate well?
  • Did they follow the rules and policies?
  • Did they take good care of your property?
  • Did they pay rent promptly?
  • Did they leave on good terms?
  • Were they a responsible and reliable tenant?

Legal considerations

When writing your landlord recommendation letter, you should also keep some important legal considerations in mind to protect all parties involved. With that said, be sure to:

  • Avoid discrimination: The letter must not contain any discriminatory remarks or biases based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status, in compliance with the Fair Housing Laws.
  • Privacy concerns: Be cautious not to disclose any personal information about the tenant that could infringe upon their privacy rights. Avoid mentioning personal issues or characteristics unrelated to their tenancy.
  • Defamation avoidance: Refrain from making any negative statements that could be considered defamatory. If you have concerns about a tenant, it's advisable to stick to facts and avoid personal opinions or unverifiable claims.
  • State laws and regulations: Be aware of any specific laws in your state or locality that might apply to landlord references. Some areas may have specific regulations about what you should include or not include in a landlord recommendation letter.
  • Consent: If possible, obtain consent from the tenant to provide a reference. It can help assure transparency and avoid any potential legal issues related to privacy.

Closing statement

End the reference letter with a concise concluding statement. An example closing statement in your formal letter is:

In closing, I confidently recommend Jane Doe as a responsible, reliable renter based on her 3-year tenancy with me. She always paid rent on time, cared for the property, and respected policies. Please contact me for any other insights helpful in considering her application.

Use a letter template

It’s understandable to feel apprehensive about reference letters — knowing what to say isn't always easy. That’s where leaning on a landlord reference letter template can help. Templates serve as handy blueprints that take the guesswork out of structuring your document.

Of course, you'll need to tailor and tweak the landlord reference letter samples to match your specific experience. Tweak the tone and swap in your specific lease details. Make it your own while benefiting from best practices available to you online.

Proofread

Be sure to proofread your reference letter for any errors, typos, or grammatical mistakes.

A well-written and error-free letter for a tenant enhances your credibility as a landlord and reflects your professionalism. Consider asking someone else to review the reference letter for a supplemental perspective.

Landlord reference letter template

Here's a sample landlord reference letter you can use when another landlord requests information on a former tenant of yours.

Include your contact information at the top:

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[City, State, ZIP Code]

[Email Address]

[Phone Number]

[Date]

Body of the landlord reference letter template:

Dear [Recipient's Name],

I am writing to recommend [Tenant Name], a former tenant at [Rental Property Address] from [Lease Start Date] to [Lease End Date].

[Tenant's Name] was consistently punctual with rent payments and maintained the property in excellent condition. They adhered to lease agreement terms without any violations and communicated effectively throughout their tenancy.

In summary, [Tenant's Name] demonstrated exemplary tenancy and responsibility. I recommend them for your rental property and am available for any further information.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

Reference letter for landlord

Writing a quality reference letter doesn't have to be painful or time-consuming if you follow some basic tips. We have covered guidelines on honesty, relevance, legal considerations, word choice, and more to set you up for success.

Keep it simple and factual without exaggeration or complex vocabulary that could confuse the reader. Share details that paint a picture of the tenant’s behavior and character to equip the next landlord in their decision-making process.

If you're still feeling uncertain on how to proceed, reread the tenant’s original lease application or reach out to them as a refresher before writing your landlord letter of reference. Taking a few minutes to follow our recommendations will produce win-win situations for all.

Landlord reference letter FAQs

How recent should the landlord reference letter be?

Ideally, a reference letter should be recent, preferably covering the tenant's most recent rental period. This ensures that the information is current and reflective of the tenant's current circumstances.

Can a landlord decline the provision of a reference letter?

Although reference letters are not obligatory for landlords to provide, refusing to do so without valid reasons can create issues. Open communication and transparency in such cases are necessary to maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship.

Are digital or email versions of landlord reference letters acceptable?

Yes, digital or email versions of landlord reference letters are generally acceptable. As long as the content is clear, well-structured, and comes from a verifiable source, landlords often appreciate the convenience of electronic communication.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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