Just as you should screen potential tenants, other landlords should too. One of the key components of tenant screenings is getting information from past landlords.
The easiest way to help your fellow landlords is by writing a landlord reference letter for your tenant. The landlord can always call you directly if they have further questions.
Why Write a Landlord Reference Letter
There is no requirement for you to write a reference letter for your tenants. However, if your tenant is good to you, it would be nice to return the favor. The world needs more quality tenants, and you do not want to be responsible for making one of them angry. Being nice to a tenant that was nice to you encourages their good behavior. Your tenant will expect that being good to a landlord causes the landlord to be good to them.
You want to help your fellow landlords. A letter of recommendation you write for a great tenant might convince them to rent to that tenant. You are helping to convince the landlord of your tenant so that they can have a great experience with them too.
Additionally, you may want to get your tenant out of your unit. Maybe, you have another tenant lined up or you plan to move into the property. Regardless, if your landlord has lined up their next place to live, they will leave quickly and without a struggle. A tenant that doesn’t have a place to go is more likely to give you trouble.
A Landlord Reference Letter Should Include
There’s no need to worry about what to include in your reference letter. As long as you hit all of the points on this checklist, your letter will be thorough and complete.
- Include the date at the top right corner of your letter.
- Below the date, include vital information about yourself, like your name, business name, business address, city, state and zip code.
- Address your letter to: To Whom It May Concern. Your tenant may make copies of your letter for different applications and you wouldn’t want to send over a new signed version every time the name of the landlord changes.
- Open your first paragraph with pertinent information about your tenant, including your tenant’s name, the address they stayed at and the dates of tenancy. You can also include important information about your unit here, like how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has.
- A landlord’s first concern is whether your tenant paid rent on time each month. Discuss that in the second paragraph.
- A landlord’s second concern is how your tenant treated your property. Discuss the state of the property when the tenant returned it to you and whether you needed to use the security deposit to make justifiable repairs.
- A tenant’s behavior and temperament affects the landlord directly and indirectly through neighboring tenants. Describe how your tenant behaved and if you had complaints from neighbors. If your tenant had a pet, you may also want to include information about whether the pet caused trouble or damage.
- Landlords want good relationships with their tenants. A future tenant may look to your relationship with your tenant to verify the tenant is reasonable and easy to get along with. Include whether your tenant’s requests and complaints were logical. Why are they leaving? Did your tenant communicate openly with you about their reason for leaving? Include whether your tenant followed the lease properly. Also, let the landlord know if you would rent to this tenant again.
- Conclude your letter with an invitation for the prospective landlord to reach out to you and your phone number. This way an interested landlord can follow up with additional questions. You would want the same courtesy.
- Write your preferred closing, for example, “best,” “sincerely,” or “appreciatively,” and then, sign your name in ink.
Tips for Writing a Landlord Reference Letter
There’s more to writing a reference letter than checking check boxes off your list. You want the letter you give your tenant to hold value with a future landlord. You should write a letter that is positive, professional, and clear of typos.
Keep it Positive
Generally, reference letters are positive because if you give your tenants a negative letter, they likely will not pass it along to their prospective landlords. Additionally, they might get angry and publish your letter on their Facebook page, which isn’t beneficial to you when prospective tenants look you up.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should write a glowing letter of recommendation for a bad tenant. It’s better not to write anything at all for a tenant that gave you trouble. Even if it helps get the tenant out of your unit, writing false things about your tenant can get you sued by their future landlord.
Hopefully, the landlord will take the lack of a letter as a bad sign. You can learn from it too. Think twice about renting to tenants that do not have landlord reference letters. While they may have had a lazy landlord or are new to the renting scene, it could indicate that they did not have a good experience with their past landlord.
By the same token, be careful about singing too many praises for your tenant. It is important to be professional.
Keep it Professional
Your tenant may have been the best you ever had. They always paid on time and in full. The home was left in perfect condition. You only heard from them when there was a serious problem with the unit. They might have even raised your property value by making repairs or upgrades to your property free of charge.
However, if you sing too many praises for your tenant, it could raise some red flags for the potential landlord. Tenants are becoming sneakier. So, if you give your tenant a glowing letter of recommendation, the prospective landlord might think it is a fake. Lots of tenants write fake letters of recommendation and put down family and friends as the landlord claiming to be their reference.
By keeping your letter professional, you give the prospective landlord confidence that the opinion in the letter is credible and true.
Additionally, it is important to make sure you are following applicable state laws and federal laws. For example, to comply with the Fair Housing Act, you should avoid making any statements about race, ethnicity, gender, disability, etc., in your letter.
Keep it Neat
Typos are a fact of life. Whether your computer is auto correcting words into other words or you hit the wrong letter on the keyboard by mistake, they are a regular occurrence. However, you should work hard to steer clear of them in your reference letter.
If your letter has typos in it, a landlord will second-guess its credibility. You and other landlords are – and should always be – skeptical of whether the letter is written by a real landlord or a friend of the prospective tenant.
A letter clear of typos helps the prospective landlord believe that the letter comes from a landlord.
Use This Sample Landlord Reference Letter
If you need more guidance, you can use this sample landlord reference letter to base yours off. Feel free to copy and paste it into your own document and modify it to reflect your tenant.