Landlord Reference Letter Guide

By PropertyClub Team
Aug 30th 2023
If you want to move into a highly selective apartment community, you will probably need a landlord reference letter. But, of course, getting a reference is not always easy. Here's what you need to know about landlord reference letters. 

hash-markWhat Is a Landlord Reference Letter?

A landlord reference letter is a letter from a previous landlord who rented to you. In the letter, the landlord generally explains what you are like as a tenant. Sometimes, this can include notes like "pays on time every time" and "makes sure to call when they notice something awry."

Your reference letter should be positive if you weren't evicted or caused problems with your landlord. If you are on good terms with your landlords, then it can act as a letter of recommendation for a high-end apartment.

hash-markHow To Select a Landlord For a Reference Letter

Generally speaking, you should try to get a reference letter from your most recent landlord. If you use a previous landlord, it might lead to questions as to why your last landlord wouldn't vouch for you. 

If you never moved out of your parents' house, they would be your reference. The only time that you should not use your most recent landlord is if you are in a lawsuit with them. In that case, they are probably not going to be willing to give you a good rating. 

Now that we know what a reference letter is, it's important to know how to write one properly. 

hash-markHow To Write a Formal Landlord Reference Letter

  1. Start With an Introduction
  2. Write the Body Paragraphs
  3. Conclude the Reference Letter

1. Start With an Introduction

The first thing that a landlord needs to do in a reference letter is to introduce themselves and the relationship that they have with the potential renter. This includes basic information about the person in question, how long you had them as a tenant, where they lived, and how much rent they paid. 



I'm writing in regards to John Johnson. John has been a tenant of mine for the past four years. At the end of his lease, his monthly rent was $1,500. I wanted to confirm that he did, in fact, live at 1313 Mockingbird Lane, Apartment 23, in Buffalo, New York. 

2. Write the Body Paragraphs

The body of the reference letter should include any additional details that the new landlord should be aware of. This can include things like payment timeliness, calls about domestic violence, or the reason why the lease was ended—if there was a worrisome reason.

Positive Example

As far as John's behavior goes, he's been a model renter. His payments are always within the grace period, and he occasionally even paid in advance. When there was a leak in his apartment, he immediately notified the landlord. 

John never made too much noise, and we often were able to get a great rapport going. When repairs needed to be done in the building, he made no objections and even laid out lemonade for the workers. We at Mockingbird Lane are sad to see him go. 

Negative Example

John was our tenant, unfortunately. He was far from a good tenant. We had to issue two written warnings related to noise, and he never mentioned the leak in his bathroom until the water had poured through our other tenant's ceiling. 

Though he did pay his rent on time every month, that was where his good behavior generally ended. We were actually debating evicting him after we caught wind of a rumor regarding him threatening a neighbor. 

3. Conclude the Reference Letter

The conclusion basically sums up whether or not you would recommend bringing this tenant to a new apartment. It's a fairly simple and easy conclusion. All you have to do is offer a "yay or nay" answer to whether you'd want to have your ex-tenant again. 

It's also a good practice to include contact information should the new landlord want to reach out for additional information. 


All things considered, I wholly recommend/do not recommend having John Johnson as a tenant. If you need more information or have any questions you can reach me at 212-222-3344 or via email at [email protected]. I hope this helps.


Eric Erikson

hash-markDo All Apartments Require a Landlord Referral Letter?

Most apartments won't require a landlord reference letter, but requirements will vary from building to building, at times even varying from person to person. A referral letter is optional for some and mandatory for many. Even if the letter is not required, it never hurts to have a positive letter accompanying an apartment application. After all, you only have one chance to make a good impression. You might as well use it to your advantage.

hash-markLandlord Reference Letter Bottom Line

While getting a landlord reference letter can seem inconvenient, it's relatively easy to do if you're on good terms with your last landlord. If you're renting in a competitive rental market and foresee a lot of competition, it's a good idea to get a reference letter from your most recent landlord before you start your search. Even though many apartments won't ask for a reference letter, it's better to be prepared and have one ready.