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How to Write a Rental Reference Letter (Templates + Samples)

September 15, 2023
A rental reference letter speaks to your character and reliability as a renter. Whenever possible, reference letters for an apartment should come from a previous landlord, property manager, or supervisor.

It’s common for landlords to ask prospective tenants to provide a rental reference letter to move forward with their application. They’re straightforward to write, even if you don’t have any experience doing it.

Here’s how to write a rental recommendation letter and what to expect from the process.

How to Write a Rental Reference Letter (Templates + Samples)

What is a Rental Reference Letter?

A rental recommendation letter is written to a potential landlord by your previous or current landlord. They can also come from other sources that verify your reliability and work ethic.

Happy young woman reading paper letter at home workplace with laptop, getting good news, bank or insurance notice.

Who to Select as Your Rental Reference

It’s essential to choose the correct rental reference from the start. Otherwise, prospective landlords may decline your apartment application. Good references include

  • Previous landlords - Landlords prefer references from other landlords who understand who makes a good renter.
  • Property managers - If you have an absentee or hands-off landlord, you can ask a property manager to provide a rental reference letter instead.
  • Supervisors - Your boss, supervisor, or volunteer coordinator can speak to your work ethic, responsible nature, and ability to cooperate.
  • Colleagues - If you're not comfortable asking your boss, a colleague can write a reference letter for an apartment and describe your hard work and professionalism.

woman reading paper letter with bad news, stressed of getting bank debt or loan rejection notification, feeling confused of termination notice, sitting at table.

Bad Rental References

Even with the best intentions, a bad rental reference could deter your chances of securing an apartment. Here's who to avoid asking to be a reference.

  • Your best friend - Landlords aren't impressed by references from your best friend who aren't impartial to what you can offer as a tenant.
  • Family members - Your Mom will always say you're great, and landlords will see red flags and assume you can't find another rental reference.
  • People you can't read or understand - If you can't read your colleague or supervisor very well, you may end up with a lukewarm or vague reference letter that doesn't speak to your positive attributes.

You can ask more than one person to provide a renters reference letter. Just make sure they're the right choice for the job.

Rental Reference Letter Template from an Employer or Supervisor

[Your Name]

[Company name]

[Your phone number]

[Your email address] (optional)

[Your Current Address]

[City, State, Zip Code]

[Landlord’s Name Or Apartment Company’s Name] (optional)

[Landlord’s Address] (optional)

[City, State, Zip Code] (optional)

Re: Rental reference letter for [lessee’s name]

Dear [Landlord’s name/Property Manager’s name/Apartment Manager’s name] or To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you concerning [Lessee’s Name] and [his/her] credibility as a potential tenant at your rental property. I am [title/position] at [company name] where [lessee’s name] is currently employed, and act as [his/her] supervisor.

[Lessee’s name] has been employed with [Company name] for the past [Time Frame], and I have known [him/her] for [Time Frame]. I am writing to confirm that [Lessee’s name] is in good standing with [Company Name], and has a stable job and income. Consequently, [Lessee’s name]'s earnings are sufficient to provide for [his/her] needs.

It is without hesitation that I write this letter of recommendation for [Lessee’s Name]. [He/She] continuously demonstrates responsibility and accountability and performs required tasks on time. [He/She] is trustworthy and honest. [Optional: Add an example]. Additionally, [Lessee’s Name] hasn’t been involved in any conflicts and demonstrates a high level of emotional intelligence.

Finally, I believe the above qualities will make [Lessee’s name] a good, responsible tenant.

If you have any questions regarding my recommendation, please don’t hesitate to contact me via [Phone and/or Email].

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Signature]

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Sample Rental Reference Letter from an Employer or Supervisor

Leslie Smith

Apartment List

(000) 000-0000

creative_producer@apartmentlist.com

475 Brannan St

San Francisco, CA 94107

Apple Hill Apartments

1 Apple Hill

San Francisco, CA 94104

Re: Rental reference letter for Anne Williams,

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you with regard to Anne Williams and her credibility as a potential tenant at your rental property. I am a Creative Producer at Apartment List, where Anne is currently employed, and I act as her direct supervisor.

Anne Williams has been employed with Apartment List for the past three years, and I have known her for two and a half years. I am writing to confirm that Anne is in good standing with Apartment List and has a stable job and income. Anne’s income is sufficient to provide for her needs.

It is without hesitation that I write this recommendation letter for Anne. She continuously demonstrates accountability and responsibility and performs required tasks on time. Furthermore, Anne is honest and trustworthy. In addition to that, she handles contractor budgets on our teams and always pays their commissions on time. Additionally, Anne hasn’t been involved in any conflicts. To my knowledge, she is a team player and demonstrates a high level of emotional intelligence.

To sum up, I believe all of these aforementioned qualities will make Anne a good, responsible tenant.

If you have any questions regarding Anne’s employment or my recommendation, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email.

Sincerely,

Leslie Smith

Rental Reference Letter Template from a Colleague

[Your name]

[Company name]

[Your phone number]

[Your email address] (optional)

[Your Current Address]

[City, State, Zip Code]

[Landlord’s Name Or Apartment Company’s Name] (optional)

[Landlord’s Address] (optional)

[City, State, Zip Code] (optional)

Re: Rental reference letter for [lessee’s name]

Dear [Landlord’s name/Property Manager’s name/Apartment Manager’s name] or To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you with regard to [Lessee’s Name] and [his/her] credibility as a potential tenant at your rental property. I am [title/position] at [company name] where [lessee’s name] is currently employed, and am [his/her] colleague.

[Lessee’s name] has been employed with [Company name] for the past [Time Frame] and I have known [him/her] for [Time Frame]. I am writing to confirm that [Lessee’s name] is in good standing with [Company Name] and [his/her] colleagues.

It is without hesitation that I write this recommendation letter for [Lessee’s Name]. [He/She] continuously demonstrates responsibility and accountability, and performs required tasks on time. [He/She] is trustworthy and honest and possesses high levels of integrity and emotional intelligence. [Optional: Add an example]. Additionally, [Lessee’s Name] hasn’t been involved in any conflicts and is friendly and cooperative.

Finally, I believe the above-mentioned qualities will make [Lessee’s name] a responsible tenant and a good neighbor.

If you have any questions regarding my recommendation, please don’t hesitate to contact me via [Phone and/or Email].

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Signature]

female graphic designer pointing with finger on laptop computer during collaboration

Sample Rental Reference Letter from a Colleague

Angela Smith

angela_smith@apartmentlist.com

475 Brannan St

San Francisco, CA 94107

Underhill Luxury Apartments

1 Underhill Ct

San Francisco, CA 94101

Re: Rental reference letter for Mary James

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you with regard to Mary James and her credibility as a potential tenant at your rental property. I am a Content Specialist at Apartment List where Mary is currently employed and am her colleague and teammate.

Mary has been employed with Apartment List for the past two years, and I have known her for one year. I am writing to confirm that Mary James is in good standing with Apartment List and her coworkers.

It is without hesitation that I write this recommendation letter for Mary James. She continuously demonstrates responsibility and accountability and performs required tasks on time. She is helpful, trustworthy, and honest and possesses high levels of integrity and emotional intelligence. Additionally, Mary is a great teammate who always meets deadlines and helps others do so too. She is easygoing and friendly. She hasn’t been involved in any conflicts to the best of my knowledge.

Finally, I believe the aforementioned qualities will make Mary a responsible and reliable tenant.

If you have any questions regarding my recommendation, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email.

Sincerely,

Angela Smith

Rental Reference Letter Template from a Current or Former Roommate

[Your name]

[Your phone number]

[Your email address] (optional)

[Your Current Address]

[City, State, Zip Code]

[Landlord’s Name Or Apartment Company’s Name] (optional)

[Landlord’s Address] (optional)

[City, State, Zip Code] (optional)

Re: Rental reference letter for [lessee’s name]

Dear [Landlord’s name/Property Manager’s name/Apartment Manager’s name] or To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you with regard to [Lessee’s Name] and [his/her] credibility as a potential tenant at your rental property. I am [Lessee’s Name]’s [current/former] roommate and have known [him/her] for the past [Time Frame].

This letter intends to confirm that [Lessee’s name] is in good standing with [his/her] roommates and is a good tenant. To my knowledge, [Lessee’s name] has always paid her rent on time and performed household chores assigned to [him/her]. Furthermore, [he/she] followed community rules and kept the rental property clean and in good condition.

Without hesitation, I write this recommendation letter for [Lessee’s Name]. [He/She] continuously demonstrates responsibility and accountability. [He/She] is trustworthy and honest and possesses high levels of integrity and emotional intelligence. [Optional: Add an example]. Additionally, [Lessee’s Name] hasn’t been involved in any conflicts with other roommates and is friendly and cooperative.

Finally, I believe that the above-mentioned qualities will make [Lessee’s name] a responsible tenant and a good neighbor.

If you have any questions regarding my recommendation, please don’t hesitate to contact me via [Phone and/or Email].

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Signature]

Sample Rental Reference Letter from a Roommate

Stephen Lee

(000) 000-0000

steven_lee@email.com

1 Cherry Blossom Ct

San Francisco CA

John Smith

2 Blueberry Ave

San Francisco, CA 94103

Re: Rental reference letter for Emily Tran

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am writing to you with regard to Emily Tran and her credibility as a potential tenant at your rental property. I am Emily’s current roommate and have known her for the past three years.

This letter intends to confirm that Emily Tran is in good standing with her roommates and is a great tenant. Emily always makes her rental payments on time, performs household chores assigned to her, follows household rules, and keeps our rental unit clean and tidy.

It is without hesitation that I write this recommendation letter for Emily. She continuously demonstrates responsibility and accountability. Additionally, she is trustworthy and honest and possesses high levels of integrity and emotional intelligence. In fact, if any conflicts arise among other roommates, she always acts as a peacemaker. Emily is easygoing and friendly.

Finally, I believe that the aforementioned qualities make Emily a responsible tenant, a good roommate, and a good neighbor.

If you have any questions regarding my recommendation, please feel free to contact me via email provided above.

Sincerely,

Stephen Lee

Rental Reference Letter Template from a Landlord or Property Manager

[Your name]

[Your phone number]

[Your email address] (optional)

[Your Current Address]

[City, State, Zip Code]

[Landlord’s Name Or Apartment Company’s Name] (optional)

[Landlord’s Address] (optional)

[City, State, Zip Code] (optional)

Re: Rental reference letter for [lessee’s name]

Dear [Landlord’s name/Property Manager’s name/Apartment Manager’s name] or To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you with regard to [Lessee’s Name] and [his/her] credibility as a potential tenant at your rental property. I am [Lessee’s Name]’s [current/former][landlord/property manager] and have known [him/her] for the past [Time Frame].

I confirm that [Lessee’s name] resided at [Address] from [Date] to [Date]. During this rental period, [Lessee’s Name] has always paid rent on time. Furthermore, [he/she] complied with all rules and regulations outlined in the lease and always kept the property clean and in good condition. We [refunded/are going to refund][his/her]security deposit in full.

It is without hesitation that I write this recommendation letter for [Lessee’s Name]. [He/She] continuously demonstrates responsibility and accountability. [He/She] is a trustworthy and honest tenant and possesses high levels of integrity and emotional intelligence. Additionally, there were no complaints from [other tenants and/or neighbors].

Finally, I believe that the above-mentioned qualities will make [Lessee’s name] a responsible tenant and a good neighbor.

If you have any questions regarding my recommendation, please feel free to contact me via [Phone and/or Email].

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Signature]

Family taking loan in bank, listening advisor, real estate agent and customers negotiating concept

Sample Landlord Reference Letter

Jeffrey Andrews

(000) 000-0000

landlordjeff@apartmentlist.com

475 Brannan St

San Francisco, CA 94107

John Smith

1 Forest Street

San Francisco, CA 94104

Re: Rental reference letter for Jane Taylor,

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am writing to you regarding Jane Taylor and her credibility as a prospective tenant at your rental property. I am Jane’s former landlord.

During this rental period, Jane always complied with all rules and terms outlined in the lease agreement. She also made rental payments on time without any delays. Jane always kept the property clean and tidy and her unit in good condition. I refunded her security deposit in full.

It is without hesitation that I recommend Jane Taylor as a tenant for your rental property. She was always friendly, conscious of other tenants, and continuously demonstrated responsibility and trustworthiness. Additionally, there were no known complaints about Jane from other tenants.

In conclusion, I believe that the above-mentioned facts qualify her as a good tenant and neighbor.

If you have any questions about her tenancy, please feel free to call me at (000) 000-0000.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Andrews

7 Steps to Writing a Rental Reference Letter

Save time by providing previous landlords or supervisors with a sample rental reference. Then, they can customize and edit it as they see fit.

Most landlords and property managers try to fill their vacancies as soon as possible and offer leases to the first appropriate candidates. Stay proactive and have all your paperwork ready in advance, especially if you are trying to find a place during the peak season.

2. Keep it Short and Only Reference Information

A rental reference letter isn’t a plea to offer you a lease. Instead, it’s to the point, straightforward, and sticks to relevant information about your reliability as a tenant.

3. Know What You Can or Cannot Say

If you are an employer providing a reference letter, you cannot disclose personal information such as your employee’s salary. However, you can mention their employment and income are stable and sufficient to support their needs. Make sure to check company rules before writing this letter.

4. Be Honest and Accountable

Don’t over-embellish the details. Always tell the truth and be ready to support your claims with evidence if needed.

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5. Never Lie

Even the smallest lie could backfire and destroy someone’s chances of securing an apartment. Don’t assume or mention unnecessary details in a rental reference letter. Stick to the facts and what you know.

6. Keep Emotions at Bay

References for landlords should sound professional and unbiased. The only thing worse than a negative reference is an over-the-top biased one. Keep to the facts and relevant information and skip the rest.

7. Keep It Structured

Your rental reference letter needs structure to avoid too little or too much detail.

  • Your name and contact information
  • Addressee or “to whom it may concern”
  • Greeting
  • Introduction
  • Body of the letter
  • Conclusion
  • Sign-off
  • Signature

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Additional Rental Reference Letter Tips

In addition to taking the steps above, here are a few other things to keep in mind when writing a great rental reference letter.

Suggest an Over-the-Phone Conversation if Time’s Limited

Not everyone will spend their free time tailoring a renters reference letter for you. However, they might be happier to have a quick phone chat with a potential landlord.

Be Sure to Secure Good References if You Have Bad Credit

Most landlords will double check your credit score or ask for a copy of your credit report. However, if you have a bad credit score, you must have good references explaining your situation and talking up your financial responsibility and accountability.

Looking for a New Rental?

Securing a rental reference letter is a necessary part of securing an apartment. Make the process easier by asking suitable references to provide a letter early with relevant details and information. Remember to return the favor and provide references for employees and colleagues who need some help!

Are you getting ready to move? Get matched with a great apartment today!

Rental Reference Letter FAQs

What Makes a Great Rental Reference Letter?

A great rental reference letter comes down to choosing the right person who can speak clearly and honestly to your character as a tenant. Whether that's a prior landlord, roommate, or supervisor, this person should be able to reassure your prospective landlord that you will take your responsibilities as a tenant seriously.

What Makes You Stand Out to a Landlord?

Great references with a solid credit and rental history will make you stand out to a landlord. Landlords are chiefly looking for tenants who will make on-time payments and respect the property. If you can reassure them you will do those things with a strong reference letter that speaks to your good character, you have a great shot at becoming a tenant.

How Do You Get Past a Bad Landlord Reference?

If you know a previous landlord won't give you a favorable reference, then reach out to a different landlord if possible. If you don't have another landlord you can contact, then try a roommate or an employer, both of whom will be able to speak to your responsible character.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
CONTENT EDITOR
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Sania Tran
AUTHOR
Sania is a highly skilled content manager and author with a wealth of experience in the apartment rental and real estate markets. As a valued member of the Apartment List team, Sania brings her expertise and insights to a wide range of content, including blog posts, guides, and research reports. Read More

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