write rental reference letter

As a landlord, you may receive a request from a tenant to provide a rental reference letter to help them secure a new rental property. Writing a landlord reference letter or tenant reference letter is a quick and easy process. Still, it’s important to know what to include to provide the necessary information on prospective tenants to the new landlord.

What Is A Rental Reference Letter?

A rental reference letter, sometimes called a reference letter for a tenant or a letter of recommendation for a tenant, is written by a landlord to a potential new landlord of a former tenant. This letter helps the new landlord assess the reliability and trustworthiness of the rental applicant.

How To Write A Rental Reference Letter

As a tenant, it’s so much easier to provide a template to your previous landlord to help save time; this way, they can customize or edit it as they want. However, not all tenants may think to do this, which is perfectly okay in today’s world of modern technology, considering how many templates you can find online nowadays. Here are a few starter tips on how to go about writing a reference letter for a tenant.

Honesty Is Key

When writing a reference letter for a tenant, it’s crucial to be honest and straightforward. Avoid exaggerating or sugar-coating the tenant’s history. It’s best to stick to the facts and provide examples of the tenant’s payment history, length of tenancy, and rental property maintenance. It’s also essential to keep the letter short, typically at most one page. 

Keep It Structured

A rental reference letter typically includes the date of writing, the landlord’s contact information, addressee or address, introduction, body, conclusion, sign-off, and signature if desired. In the body of the letter, include the tenant’s full name, rental property address, rental dates, payment history, and any relevant information about the tenant’s behavior or conduct during the tenancy.

What Should A Rental Reference Letter Include?

We went over the structure of the letter, but let’s break it down to the bare minimum and in simplest terms. Here are the steps in order and what to include when creating the rental reference letter:

#1 Date:

Be sure to put the date at the top of the letter. An out-of-date letter is going to lose credibility.

#2 Contact Information

Your first and last name is usually included, but sometimes people will even include their email address and direct phone number. If you’re a landlord receiving a recommendation letter and need assistance on how to contact the previous landlord, check out this video:

#3 Addressee

If you do not know the potential landlord’s name, a formal “to whom it may concern” will do just fine here.

#4 Introduction

A simple introduction of who you are will work great here; we’ll get down to more details below.

#5 Tenancy Information:

This should be in the body of your letter. Be sure to include the tenant’s first and last name, the address of the rental property, and the dates that the tenants were on the property. If the tenant paid on time, be sure to include that. If the tenant took care of the property and maintained everything properly, include that.

If the tenant owned a pet, previous landlords will include information like how well they handled the dog while living on the property, any noise complaints, yard mishaps, etc. Remember, as mentioned above, it’s essential to stick to the facts and not insert your opinion anywhere. Landlords sometimes point to specific lease clauses and acknowledge whether the tenant followed the terms correctly.

#6 Care And Condition Of The Property :

It’s crucial to note how the property was maintained. If there were any damages, mention that. If the tenants left things in perfect condition (per lease terms, etc.), note that as well. Remember, your rental reference letter should not violate fair housing laws, many of which relate to discrimination. It’s important to keep in mind that you can inadvertently violate such laws by mentioning a person’s race, sexual orientation, etc., even if you are being complimentary.

Depending on your local laws, you may have additional protected classes to consider when writing this letter. It’s always a good idea to have a legal review of your letter before you send it out.

#7 Tenant’s Behavior:

If there were any neighbors to the property or anyone else other than the tenant living at the home, note if there were any disputes or difficulties for any reason. You should never reveal personal information about the tenant either; stick to the facts.

#8 Landlord-Tenant Relationship:

As mentioned above, keep things simple in the conclusion. Be sure to include whether or not you would rent to the tenant again. When the future landlord can evaluate all the facts, they can make the final call on whether to rent to the tenant.

#9 Sign Off

A simple signature or signing of your name will do here.

Landlord Reference Letter Sample

Sometimes, it’s easiest to see what a rental reference letter should include with an example or a starter template you can customize.

July 15, 2023

To whom it may concern,

I’ve been asked to write a rental reference letter for James Kitts, who rented an apartment from me at 2202 Elm Street from June 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.

During the 1-year lease, James always paid the rent on time except for once, when he contacted me in advance about a family emergency and made arrangements to pay in full by the 15th of the month, plus late fees. He fulfilled that agreement.

James kept the apartment in good condition and promptly alerted me to any maintenance issues. At the move-out inspection, there were only two minor damage charges. I have no complaints about him on file from other residents and found him to be a quiet and respectful tenant.

If given the opportunity, I would rent to James again. Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about his tenancy at 555-5555.


Ms. Landlord

Create The Best Reference Letter

When writing a landlord reference letter or tenant recommendation letter, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Be honest and straightforward.
  2. Keep the letter concise.
  3. Stick to the facts and avoid inserting personal opinions.
  4. Use a professional tone and format.
  5. Check for any spelling or grammar errors.
  6. Provide examples of the tenant’s payment history, length of tenancy, and rental property maintenance.

Writing a rental reference letter is a simple process that can help a tenant secure a new rental property. As a landlord, it’s crucial to provide an honest and thorough reference to the new landlord while also protecting the privacy and rights of the former tenant. Let the facts speak for themselves, and do your duty as a landlord in creating a simple, informational letter for your tenant to use. Make sure to share this article and leave a comment below!