Landlords often receive requests from their former renters to write reference letters to future landlords. Landlords aren’t obligated to provide references, but you can provide useful information to other landlords.

Whether you decide to call the landlord and speak over the phone, or write a more formal reference letter, here are some tips for information to include.  

1. Write a letter using a formal template

Use this template, and make the letter look professional: include the date at the top, followed with the full name and address of the landlord you’re writing to, and use a formal salutation. At the end of the letter, add your name and allow room for your signature.

Here’s the template:

[Your Name]

[Company Name]

[Street Address]

[City, State, ZIP Code]

[Date]

[Future landlord’s name]

[Title]

[Company name]

[Street address]

[City, State, ZIP code]

Dear [Future landlord name]:

This renter reference is given to verify tenancy of [renter’s names] at [rental property address]. They were our renters from [first day of lease] to [last day of lease].

Their last monthly rent was in the amount of $[rental amount]. They were responsible and timely in their rent payments, which were due the first day of each month. There was only one late payment and it was paid within five days of default without any reminder from us.

There were never any complaints from their neighbors and they had kept the rental unit and its surrounding area clean and tidy. We refunded their security deposit of $[deposit amount] in full within 14 days of their move out.

They were respectful and helpful tenants. They never made any unreasonable demands or complaints during the duration of their tenancy. They had a pet dog, who was quiet and well-behaved with no complaints from neighbors or us.

We did not serve any eviction notices. In addition, they complied with every aspect of their lease, and they provided us with the required advance notice of leaving. We have been informed that their reason for leaving is the need for a larger rental unit.

If given the chance, I would gladly rent to them again. Please feel free to contact me at [phone number] or [email address] and I will be glad to answer any other questions you may have.

Sincerely,

[Your Signature]

[Your Name]

[Title]

2. Ask about their concerns

Ask the landlord about the information they’re looking for and the questions they have about your previous renter. The other landlord will know that you’re open to having a conversation that will be thoughtful and helpful.

3. Be honest and stick to the facts

Above all, tell the truth. You may be tempted to say anything to a future landlord to get a problematic renter to move out of your property. However, if you provide false information, the future landlord can sue you for misrepresentation, and the renter could take action, as well. Stick to the facts, and provide information that you can support with documentation or evidence.

4. Don’t get emotional

There can be times when landlords have renters who have been problematic in some way or other, or ones that were hard to get along with. But a reference is not the place to air old grudges or grievances. If conflicts or problems came up, tell that to the future landlord without being biased or emotional.  

5. Provide specific information

Broad, sweeping generalizations—such as “they were great!” or “they were fine renters”—is not useful to landlords. Provide specific, detailed descriptions of your experience with the renter, including how long they lived at your rental, whether they paid the rent on time every month, and if they took good care of the space.

6. Be available

Always let the future landlord know they can contact you again for more information or clarification. Include your name and phone number on your reference letter.

Bonus: requesting references

Landlords requesting references from applicants can automate the process with Cozy. Our free online rental application automatically emails references, soliciting feedback on potential renters. You will get a more complete picture of your applicants, because the rental application, references, tenant credit reports and eviction and background checks, will be in one place.