Tips For Getting Landlord Referral Letters

By Ashley Paskill on June 3, 2022

One of the most important parts of screening potential tenants is the landlord referral or reference letter. This lets you know what the potential tenant is like as a renter, from payments to the upkeep of the property. However, receiving these letters can be difficult as landlords are often busy with tasks associated with property ownership. Making it easy to send and receive these letters will help you, your potential tenants, and the referring landlords.

Use technology

Technology is useful, especially when it comes to conveniently collecting referral letters from tenants. Whether it is through email or an online application, collecting letters of recommendation has never been easier. There are even online platforms specifically dedicated to helping landlords accept applications and necessary documents. This will help you and any employees you have stay organized while screening your applicants.

Seek variety

When looking for referrals, you want to try to get a full picture of a potential tenant. This means that you will want to request a variety of different recommendation letters. These can include current and former landlords, employers, and banks that the tenant uses. Be sure to ask for specific references to include so that you get all of the information you need. This will ensure that you get a good feel for who the potential tenant is and will be able to make a more informed decision during the leasing period.

Keep things simple

As someone who will have to read through multiple applications, you will want to keep your referral letter questions short and easy to answer. This will help save you time and help the letter writer know exactly what they need to cover. Be sure to ask for contact information so you can follow up if you have any further questions, especially for applicants you are strongly considering. While you should avoid yes or no questions, it is still important to ask questions that can be answered concisely. Ask questions such as the person’s relationship with the potential tenant and why they would be a great tenant for the property.

Know what to look for

When looking through referral letters, it can be overwhelming to sort through the information that is presented. However, knowing exactly what to look for and red flags that can signify issues can help you navigate this process. The referral letter should be written in formal language, and letters that are not written in a formal manner may be falsified. The letter should also include things like contact information, the dates of the lease, the tenant’s responsibility, any lease violations, and information on pets. Things such as opinions and comments on things like race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected statuses should send red flags and cannot be considered in your decision.

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Honesty is best

While you may be happy to see a glowing review of a tenant, nobody is perfect all the time. Be cautious of letters that make a potential tenant seem more perfect than possible. This is why it is crucial to obtain multiple references for each potential tenant; you will get a different look from each letter and be able to decide what information is true and what information is over-praising the potential tenant. If any of the letters have contradictory information and you would like to pursue the candidate, reach out to those who wrote the letters to follow up and get some clarification.

Trust your instinct

Ultimately, you need to trust your instinct to be able to determine which tenant to lease to. If something seems off in the referral letters, move on to the next candidate. You are the one who knows exactly what you are looking for, and even if your employees are helping to process applications, at the end of the day, the decision comes down to you. Trust your instincts as they are usually correct and can sense things in people that you may overlook.

Provide templates

It is possible that those you are asking to provide tenant references have never written a landlord recommendation letter before. In these instances, it is beneficial if you provide a template of some sort and provide tips. There are plenty of websites that offer templates for free, but guiding the letter writers in the right direction can make the process easier for them.

Provide a deadline

Having an open-ended timeline for when to submit letters may seem like you are being approachable, but if you do not provide a date for when you need them, you may never receive the letters you need. Let your tenants know what the deadline is so they can get started on obtaining the letters right away and get them back to you with plenty of time.

Receiving referral letters for potential tenants can seem like a lot of work, but simplifying the process and knowing what to look for can help save you time and energy in the future.

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