Free Landlord Reference Letter Template

A letter of reference for landlords serves as a recommendation for the tenant applicant and their ability to carry out his or her rental obligations. To confirm that you are selecting a good tenant a previous landlord can confirm key facts:

  • Monthly rent the tenant paid
  • The term of the lease the tenant rented the property for
  • Late payment history
  • Violations of the lease

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.

Who to select as your rental reference

 Landlords often receive multiple applications from potential tenants and will be comparing you to other applicants. That’s why knowing how make your apartment application stand out and having stellar rental references is so important. To help you maximize chances of getting that awesome apartment spent months hunting for, we put together a list of people that could be great rental references for your apartment application.

Good rental references

1. Previous Landlords

It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? If a potential landlord wants to know how good of a tenant you are, and whether you pay rent on time, they should ask the person you’ve rented from before. That’s why most of the articles on early lease termination will tell you to avoid breaking your rental agreement early to keep a good relationship with your landlord. You never want to burn bridges with them.

2. Property Managers

If you live in a large apartment community, you likely deal with property managers instead of a landlord. Similar to landlords, they can speak to your prior rental experience, shed light on your level of responsibility, and paint you as a good tenant if you are one. Management companies usually have rules and procedures around providing references, so check with your leasing office.

3. Supervisors

Your boss might not be able to talk about your rental history or financial responsibility. However, they can highlight your personal qualities that would make you a good tenant. For instance, they can say that you are always on time, good with deadlines, responsible, cooperative, and polite. Their validation can also assure your potential landlord that you are going to keep your job and a steady income. If you volunteer, a letter of reference from your volunteer supervisor can also be helpful.

4. Colleagues

Seeking personal references from your colleagues can also suffice, especially if you aren’t comfortable asking your boss. They can talk about your professionalism and accountability with a personal touch. Just make sure they are colleagues that are happy with your work ethic and know you well, not just a person from your office you  have a cooler talk with every morning.

Bad rental references:

1. Your best buddy

When it comes to tenant screening, best friends are not the preferred references for your landlord. A good rule of thumb is not to ask your closest people for references. If your best friend has never met you in a professional or volunteer setting, using them as a referral is not a great idea. They have to be able to talk about your financial responsibility, and “venmoing on time” won’t cut it.

2. Family members.

No matter how much your mom loves you, being the best son or daughter is not a rental qualification your potential landlord is looking for. Family members might be biased, and getting a referral letter from them could indicate to  your landlord that you are scrambling for references.

3. People you can’t read.

This category includes people that are nice and polite, but you can’t always tell what they think. They might be pressured to say “yes,” but feel uncomfortable talking you up. If you have to use them as a reference, don’t just give their contact information to your potential landlord, but rather ask them to write a letter that you can include with your application.

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.

  1. Include the date at the top right corner of your letter.
  2. Below the date, include vital information about yourself, like your name, business name, business address, city, state and zip code.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A landlord’s first concern is whether your tenant paid rent on time each month. Discuss that in the second paragraph.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Write your preferred closing, for example, “best,” “sincerely,” or “appreciatively,” and then, sign your name in ink.

Additional Tips

Most landlords and property managers try to fill their vacancies as soon as possible to avoid losing money, and will rent their rental properties to the first appropriate candidate. Therefore, you should be proactive and have all your paperwork ready in advance, especially if you are trying to find a place during the peak season.

2. If you are pressed for time, opt for contact information instead of letters of reference.

Not all people will be willing to spend their free time tailoring a letter for you. However, they might be more happy to have a quick phone chat with a potential landlord.

3. Work especially hard on securing good references if you have a bad credit score.

Most landlords will check your credit score or ask you to provide credit reports. If you have a bad credit score, it’s crucial that you have good references explaining your situation and talking up your financial responsibility and accountability. If just having “good-enough” references should be all that’s needed in most cases, in this situation they must be stellar.



These resources are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to seek specific legal advice for any of the issues as found in this blog.


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