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

By: Sania Tran
March 20, 2019

When it comes to securing an apartment, having good references can make or break it. Landlords and property managers consider rental reference letters a part of the prospective tenant’s background check. Whether you are applying for an apartment yourself, or have been asked to be a rental referral, it’s important that you know how to write a quick and impactful rental reference letter.

What is a rental reference letter

A rental reference letter is a document written to a potential landlord by a previous or current landlord, property manager, supervisor, colleague, mentor or roommate. Furthermore, it is designed to confirm that a prospective tenant is a responsible, reliable, financially stable individual. It should confirm that they can adhere to rules and regulations, respect deadlines, pay rent on time, and keep a rental property in good condition.

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.

How to write a rental reference letter

The content of a rental reference letter will vary depending on who writes it. For instance, landlord reference letters tend to be shorter and more concise. They should contain factual information about a potential tenant’s rental history, timeliness of rent payments, and any outstanding disputes or obligations. On the other hand, when it comes to a letter written by supervisors, colleagues or friends, they are more of a character reference than anything else.

Follow these simple tips when writing this letter:

  1. Keep it short and only reference information relevant for an apartment application. If you are a landlord or property manager, outline your rental history and your experience with the tenant. For example, talk about their stability, cleanliness and the condition in which they left the rental property. If you are a friend, manager or colleague, describe situations in which the potential tenant acted as a responsible person. For instance, mention time when they fulfilled their financial or professional obligations in a timely manner. You want to make them sound trustworthy and reliable. It’s especially important to include these details if the person you are writing the rental reference letter for has bad credit. Your reference might play a crucial role in helping this person secure an apartment.
  2. Know what you can or cannot say. If you are an employer, you may not disclose any personal information such as your employee’s salary. You can mention that their employment and income are stable and sufficient to support their needs. Make sure to check company rules before writing this letter.
  3. Be honest and accountable. Tell the truth and be ready to support your claims with evidence if needed.
  4. Never lie.  If you are writing a reference letter for a friend and are tempted to lie to help them out, don’t. One seemingly insignificant lie can destroy their chances of securing that apartment. Talk about things you know first-hand and are sure of. Additionally, be ready to elaborate or provide evidence to support your claims. If you aren’t sure about their outstanding obligations to their previous landlord, don’t mention them
  5. Keep emotions at bay. Above all, you want to sound professional and unbiased. Even if you want the world to know how awesome your roommate is, you have to keep your emotions to yourself and stick to the facts. The only thing that’s worse than a negative reference is an obviously biased one. If you are a landlord and you have something negative to say, describe the situation as factual as possible. In other words, reference letters are not a place to express anger or resentment.
  6. Keep it structured. To avoid writing too much or too little, stick to the following structure: your name and contact information, addressee or “to whom it may concern”, greeting, introduction, body of the letter, conclusion, sign off, signature.

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.

Rental reference letter template from an employer or a 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 with regards 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 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 earning 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 that the above-mentioned 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]

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 regards to Anne Williams and her credibility as a potential tenant at your rental property. I am Creative Producer at Apartment List where Anne is currently employed, and 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. 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, is a team player and demonstrates a high level of emotional intelligence.

To sum up, I believe that the 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 regards 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 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 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 regards to Mary James and her credibility as a potential tenant at your rental property. I am 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, that always meets deadlines and helps others to do so as well. She is easygoing and friendly. She hasn’t been involved in any conflicts to the best of my knowledge.

Finally, I believe that 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 regards 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 is written with the intention 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 a good condition.

It is without hesitation that 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, 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 regards 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 is written with the intention 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 peacemakers. Emily easygoing and friendly.

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

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

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