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A former tenant might ask a landlord to write a landlord reference letter to help them rent another place in the future. It doesn't take a lot of time to do, but it's often confusing about what to say.

As the landlord, you want a thorough and honest rental reference for a prospective tenant. However, you should extend that professional courtesy to the new landlord.

Landlord reference letters are rarely written unless the tenant requests the reference letter. Then, you must deliver appropriate information quickly and honestly.

The reference letter doesn't have to take long to craft, but you'll need the tenant's file to ensure you don't leave anything out or have mistakes in the information.

What's a Rental Reference Letter?

A landlord reference letter is also called a recommendation letter and is written to the new landlord of your former tenant. Such letters don't have to come from the former landlord and can be given from other sources. The goal is to show a tenant's reliability.

However, most landlords enjoy seeing the recommendation from a previous landlord detailing the tenant's rental history.

Can the landlord refuse to write or accept a recommendation letter? Yes, it is possible. You're not required to craft the document, and the potential landlord doesn't have to use it.

How to Write a Reference Letter

how to write a landlord reference letter

It's generally wise for tenants to provide a template to the previous landlord to save time, but most people don't think about this. As the landlord, you can easily write a recommendation letter with the help of a template.

Here are some tips on writing your landlord reference letter for a tenant:

Honesty

Don't go overboard on the details, but make sure you tell the truth. With most landlord reference letters, it's crucial to be able to back up the claims you make if you get an email or phone call for verification.

Honesty is crucial when writing reference letters. You don't want to indicate to a prospective landlord that the tenant is amazing when they are pretty tough to deal with.

Likewise, you want proof to back up your claims, such as late rent payments through receipts.

Short and Sweet

Landlords are extremely busy, so they don't have time to read through an entire nine-page essay about why they should choose a specific tenant. They generally have dozens of rental applications to get through, but they're also running a background check. It might be helpful to craft a sample letter and make sure it's only about one page or less.

Just the Facts

In most cases, something in writing supersedes orally said and agreed upon things. Therefore, your landlord reference letter should focus on the facts so that nothing will backfire on you. For example, you can say that the tenant paid rent in a timely manner most of the time and mention you have receipts or other proof to back that up.

Be Professional

The landlord reference letter must sound professional, or it won't get taken seriously. Make sure you're sticking to the facts and being relevant. Write the letter as if you were getting it. Once you're finished, check for grammar and spelling mistakes. If possible, ask a friend to read over it, ensuring that all the blanks are filled in on the template.

Use Structure

Your rental reference letter should have the structure below:

  • Date of your writing
  • Your name and contact information (direct phone number or email address)
  • "To whom it may concern" or the addressee if known
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • Sign-off
  • Landlord's signature

What to Include in the Rental Reference Letter

what to include in a landlord reference letter

You might understand the structure of the landlord reference letter more, but let's break things down even further. Here are the things to include when crafting the document:

Date

The current date should be at the top of your letter. Outdated ones will lose credibility.

Contact Information

The first and last name of the former landlord should be included in the landlord recommendation letter, and you may also add your direct phone number or email address.

Addressee

You may not know the name of the prospective landlord, and that's okay. To make it formal, you'll add "to whom it may concern."

Introduction

Landlord recommendation letters should begin with an introduction of who you are and why you're writing the letter.

Tenancy Information

The body of the letter includes the tenancy information. Make sure you have the first and last name of the tenant, the rental property address, and the dates of when the tenant rented from you.

If your tenant paid rent on time, make sure you include that. You can also list the monthly rent amount, though you're not required to do so.

List things the tenant did to care for and maintain the property. Previous landlords generally include information about pet ownership, such as noise complaints, handling of the pet, yard issues, and more.

Just ensure you're sticking to the facts and not adding your opinions anywhere. However, you can point to any specific clauses in the lease, acknowledging if the tenant followed those terms. For example, if they consistently paid rent on time for your rented property, the future landlord will want to know this.

Condition and Care of the Property (without Violating the Fair Housing Laws)

Make sure you note how your property was maintained. List any damages and things the tenant left in good condition as per the lease terms.

Remember that the rental reference letter cannot violate fair housing laws, mostly about discrimination. You can easily do this if you mention the person's sexual orientation or race, even if it's in a complimentary form.

Depending on the local laws, you could have more protected classes to consider. If you're listing lease violations or have positive things to say, it's still wise to get a legal review of the letter before sending it.

Behavior of the Former Tenant

Reference letters can include information from your property neighbors and anyone else the tenant may have come in contact with. You can list disputes or issues, but don't reveal personal information about your tenant. Likewise, if they were a respectful tenant, this is helpful to know.

Landlord-tenant Relationship

This is the conclusion part of the reference letter, and you should keep it simple. Include whether you'd rent to that tenant again or not. The future landlord will then evaluate the facts and make the final call.

Signature

After the closing statement of a reference letter, you should also add your signature.

Where to Get a Landlord Reference Letter Template

When writing a reference letter for a tenant, it's wise to get a landlord recommendation letter sample that you can refer to.

DoorLoop has many rental forms to help you, and the landlord reference letter template is just one of them. Check out the options to streamline your landlord duties.

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!

Legal Disclaimer

The information on this website is from public sources, for informational purposes only and not intended for legal or accounting advice. DoorLoop does not guarantee its accuracy and is not liable for any damages or inaccuracies.

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