A tenant reference letter is a document a landlord prepares for a former tenant so they can present it to other landlords when looking for a new house.
The letter shares information about your interactions with the tenant throughout the time they were your tenant. It contains information such as the property address, dates of tenancy, monthly rent, and lease violations if applicable.
As a landlord, it is normal practice to request a recommendation letter when conducting a background check on a potential tenant. In the same way, you should help other landlords in their screening efforts by preparing a reference letter for any tenant who requests it.
The following are some of the most common uses for a reference letter:
- It promotes better decision-making because it concisely covers the tenant’s rental history.
- It highlights violations committed during tenancy, thereby serving as a warning to potential landlords.
- It states the monthly rent paid, therefore providing insights into the tenant’s financial ability.
- It praises excellent tenants and portrays them as responsible, financially stable individuals.
A well-written letter saves you time because other landlords will not have to call to ask about a tenant’s reliability.
How to Format a Tenant Reference Letter?
The information you disclose in the letter is meant to help the next landlord understand if the tenant possesses qualities such as paying rent on time, maintaining peaceful relationships with neighbors, and respecting property rules. Since your letter may directly influence a landlord’s decision to accept or reject an application, you need to write it with integrity, honesty, and caution.
Here is a complete guideline on how to write a resourceful tenant reference letter:
The header typically introduces the sender to the recipient and contains their complete information. It also includes the date the letter is written.
Providing the date of writing the reference letter for the tenant is important because it helps potential landlords to determine its validity based on the time of the application. Logically, a letter written recently is more meaningful than one written three years ago. The letter is a formal communication, and the date should reflect this in its format. Here is how to write a formal date:
March 23rd, 2022
Your contact information
Be sure to include your details, starting with your name, phone number, current address, city, state, and zip code, in the given order. Your personal information solidifies the legitimacy and integrity of the letter. Besides, it gives the landlord an easy way to reach you should they require any clarification.
Use a standard format as shown below:
City, state, zip code
In most circumstances, you must address any landlord that the tenant may approach with a general salutation. If you, however, know the name of the reader, write it instead of the generic salutation.
Generic: To Whom It May Concern
Specific: Dear Lilian Green
The introduction of the reference letter for tenant should include specific information about the nature of the tenancy in question. The following details are part of the introduction:
State the tenant’s name to properly identify the tenant and show that the information you will input therein is a specific summary of the experience you had with the tenant.
Address of your rental property
To make your letter appear more professional and credible, include the actual address of your property. A letter with an address is more trustworthy than one without one.
Monthly rent amount
Your introductory section should mention the monthly rent paid by the tenant during the duration of the tenancy. This information is insightful as to whether the tenant can comfortably afford the new rent. If you charged $1,500 while the new landlord charges $3,500 a month, then the letter would be less effective in ensuring affordability.
Outline the duration of the tenancy agreement under which you housed the tenant. This will further strengthen the new landlord’s understanding of the tenant’s reliability. Many landlords prefer tenants who will stay in their property for an extended period.
After introducing the tenant and tenancy terms, here is how you describe the experience with the tenant, as follows:
Character information about the tenant
Provide an overview of the tenant’s attributes in this section of reference letter. This includes stating whether they are easy to communicate with and respectful. Mention their adherence to your rental policy and how they handled maintenance issues. Also, mention if the tenant maintained the cleanliness of communal areas of your property. Be sure to remain honest and factual.
Mention any lease violations
You may mention any violations that the tenant committed concerning the agreement they signed when moving in. Some possible violations include unpermitted housing for pets; smoking indoors; noise pollution resulting in complaints by neighbors; littering; and doing invasive renovations and décor against your wishes. If the tenant did not commit any violations, you might want to highlight their biggest flaw as a tenant.
Information about the reliability of the tenant
This section requires you to reflect on the tenant’s reliability throughout the tenancy period. Shed light on reliability measures, including the ability to pay rent on time, commitment to policy and property care, responsiveness, and friendliness when dealing with you, among other perspectives.
An honest tenant, for instance, would let you know in advance if a certain circumstance made it more difficult for them to make rent payments on time. Following this, the tenant should go ahead and honor the agreement you reached as a solution.
Add some of the best experiences you had with the tenant. Think of key attributes that made the individual a fairly good tenant, even if they were not reliable for the most part.
Damage beyond normal wear and tear
Typical damages include faulty electrical sockets, stained walls, and loose door handles. On the other hand, extreme damages include missing window panes and broken toilet seats. These types of damages should be highlighted because they reveal important information about the tenant’s trustworthiness.
The following subsections should be used to close your letter after the body has been completed:
A closing statement
Summarize your assessment of the tenant and the overall relationship in a few, brief sentences at the end of the letter.
Here is an example:
‘Please accept Peris because it will be hard to get a tenant as good as her.’
Remember to inform the reader that you are available should they feel the need to talk to you.
‘Don’t hesitate to call me if you need any clarification’
Conclude with your name, contact information, and a signature to add to the letter’s professionalism. The signature also indicates that you wrote the letter yourself. See the example below.
Tenant Reference Letter Template
[Your phone number]
[City, state, zip code]
To Whom it May Concern,
I write this reference letter that reflects on the credibility of [tenant’s name] as a potential tenant on your property. I am [your name], his landlord from [date rented – the date when tenancy ended]. During that time, the monthly rent was [monthly rent].
During the two years, I housed [tenant’s name], he always paid rent on time, except for one time when he alerted me about a work-related emergency. We agreed to push the date to the 20th of the same month, which he honored. He always adhered to the tenancy rules established at the beginning of the tenancy period for my property.
[Tenant’s name] was an easy person to talk to. He always communicated on time about any developing maintenance issues and patiently waited as we facilitated repairs. During the time that he was moving out, we only charged for one minor repair. I did not receive any complaints about him from other residents on my property.
I believe that his qualities and reliability could make him an excellent tenant for you. Do not hesitate to contact me if you need further clarification about his reliability.
Samples and Free Templates
Consider using pre-designed templates that will help you include all the details that constitute an informative and comprehensive letter instead of creating one by yourself. Templates help you create consistent reference letters, make your work easier, and save time. Download free and customized templates from below to draft an effective reference letter for the benefit of other landlords.
Best Practices for Writing a Comprehensive Reference Letter
The information you mention in the reference letter can vary based on the tenant who requested it. However, each letter should be truthful and based on facts relating to your experience with the tenant.
The following tips will help you draft a valuable tenant reference letter:
Share facts and not opinions
Compare your experience with the tenant to the rules and policies governing the tenancy of your property to ensure that you only cover what is required. The expression of your emotions and opinions can lead to bias and mislead prospective landlords.
Be honest and professional
Honesty is paramount when writing a tenant reference letter. Being honest enables you to convey accurate information that helps prospective landlords make informed choices. On the other hand, dishonesty can mislead landlords into making poor decisions they might regret later. In this context, it is helpful to understand the importance of a tenant reference letter to the rental community before writing it.
Keep a positive tone
Since your reference letter is a professional document, maintain a positive tone to foster clarity and facilitate objectivity. A negative tone can be seen as judgmental, reducing the quality and trustworthiness of your letter.
Check your letter for spelling and grammar errors to maintain a professional tone. Check that all sections of the template are correctly filled out and that your address and all names are correct.
Follow fair housing and local laws
As you write a tenant reference letter, take care to adhere to the local housing laws in the area. You can do this by requesting a lawyer to review the letter before issuing it to the tenant.
Be brief and direct
While there is no stipulated ideal length for such a letter, always write a brief, precise, and direct letter of about two or three paragraphs. This should not, however, stop you from including whatever pertinent information you believe could be useful for the new landlord.
Use a template
A template provides you with the consistency and professionalism you need for all reference letters. Besides, it acts as a guide, which ensures you include all relevant information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Avoid mentioning subjective feelings and opinions about the tenant. Instead, concentrate on factual history and evidence-based conclusions.
A reference letter is not mandatory, but it is a useful document. While you can evaluate a potential tenant based on their application, a reference letter will give you a better idea of the kind of experience you can expect if you accept them as tenants. Therefore, it can be very useful when it comes to making the final decision about rental agreements.