Most landlords request one or two reference letters from potential tenants before approving a lease. They are attempting to establish that you will be a good tenant, look after the unit, pay your rent on time and not cause the neighbors or the landlord any problems. They will also confirm your ability to pay your rent, maybe do a credit check and even ask for a letter from your previous landlord. This is all part of deciding who will be the best tenant and pose the least risk to the landlord.
In many rental markets, there is a lack of rental units available for rent. Competition may be fierce, with many people hoping to rent the same unit you are considering. You may feel pressured to make a decision quickly about renting a particular unit, and you may be requested to provide tenant reference letters from a friend. Having a tenant reference letter from a friend available can make a huge difference in whether you are selected in a tight rental market. There are some do’s and don’ts to consider, and some tenant reference letters from a friend will have more creditability than others. We will explore all of these details and more in this post.
What Is a Tenant Reference Letter for a Friend?
A tenant reference letter from a friend is a short letter prepared by a friend for a new landlord confirming that you, a potential tenant, a responsible person, reliable, stable financially, and someone who follows the rules, pays the rent on time, meets deadlines, gets along with the neighbors and keeps the rental unit in good condition.
The person preparing a tenant reference letter on your behalf must have credibility with the recipient, usually the landlord. Not all of your friends will be good candidates. If you choose the wrong person, your landlord may select someone else with better references.
For example, one of your drinking buddies who still live at home may be a great person; however, they will have low credibility as a reference for any landlord.
In life, networking and building friendships are important. Establishing friends where you work, donating your time, playing team sports, and volunteering is important. These friends may have a great deal more credibility for tenant reference letters than your school chums.
Friends that fall into the following categories may be good references to draw on:
- Your employer
- Your professor, coach, or supervisor
- Previous landlords and property managers
Select people who can write and provide personal examples about you that illustrate:
- Your behavior, e.g., roommates and co-workers
- Financial responsibility, e.g., your employer
- Complying with rules, e.g., professors, supervisors, coaches
These folks also carry credibility based on their positions in industry, education, and team sports. Family members and casual friends carry less credibility. While they will be willing to provide you with a tenant reference letter, the landlord may discount these letters in favor of other applicants who have more credible references. Landlords may assume you do not have more credible references and may not be reliable.
Time is also important. Look for people you have known for several years. Someone who you have known for only a few months will not have the same level of credibility.
How to Write a Tenant Reference Letter for a Friend?
If you have been asked to write a tenant reference letter for a friend or someone you know on a professional level, take a moment to consider who the audience is and what they need to know about your friend.The landlord wants to understand if the person is reliable, someone who will make their rental payments on time and look after the unit and not cause problems for neighbors or the landlord. The following attributes should be considered and emphasized if applicable:
- Absence of criminal convictions
- No history of evictions
- Good credit history
- Financially stable
- Has a good personal reputation
- Your friend is organized and keeps their home clean
- A reputation for being trustworthy and honest
- Communicates well
All letters of this type should be written in business letter format and include your address and contact information. The landlord may want to contact you if they have any questions. Include the date and the landlord’s address or make the letter to “whom it may concern”. Indicate your friend’s name and mention why you think they would be a good tenant. Include space for your signature and print your full name.
Business letters should always follow these guidelines, and your letter should follow these same guidelines:
- Keep it simple and to the point
- Keep it professional
- Be honest about your friend
- Include your friend’s name
- Identify your relationship and the length of time you have known them
- Include the reasons you are recommending your friend
- Avoid mention of race, religion, color, disabilities, or medical conditions
- Always include your contact details
The format of the tenant reference letter for a friend is as follows:
- Your address
- Current date
- Recipients address
- Initial opening paragraph
- One or two paragraphs recommending your friend
- Closing paragraph
- Printed name and signature
Tenant Reference Letter for a Friend (Template)
The following can be used as a template:
[Your full name]
[Your full address]
[Your mobile number]
[Landlords name or property managers name]
[Full address of landlord or property manager]
[To Whom It May Concern]
Reference Letter for [Friends name]
Dear [Name of the person the letter is addressed to]
I am writing this reference letter on behalf of [Friends name]. I have known [Friends name] for [Years, months] as a [Roommate, co-worker, employer, coach, etc.]. [Friends name] will make an excellent tenant for the following reasons:
[List one or more reasons]
Please feel free to contact me by email or phone regarding any questions you may have regarding the details of this reference letter and [Friends name] as a potential tenant.
Sample Tenant Reference Letter for a Friend
The following is a typical example of a tenant reference letter for a friend:
1234 Brown street, My City, Ohio, 12345
1000 Grace Street, My City, Ohio, 123456
To Whom It May Concern
Reference Letter for Jennifer Brown
I am writing this reference letter on behalf of Jennifer Brown. I have known Jennifer for 3 Years and 6 months as a co-worker at Green Scape Lawns. Jennifer will make an excellent tenant for the following reasons:
I have worked with Jennifer at Green Scape Lawns for the past three years and found her to be very responsible, always on time for work, and a person who can be counted on to do their share of each project. Customers appreciate her and regularly provide the company with positive reviews concerning her work.
This recommendation is provided without hesitation. She regularly demonstrates responsibility and dependability and is always conscientious on the job. To my knowledge, Jennifer is not involved in any conflicts within the company or externally.
Please feel free to contact me by email or phone regarding any questions you may have regarding the details of this reference letter and Jennifer as a potential tenant.
The following are some of the frequently asked questions many readers have about tenant reference letters for a friend.
A friend can be a character reference; however, some friends have more credibility with landlords compared to others. Friends you work with, work for, coaches, professors, and co-workers tend to carry more credibility with landlords than people who are not close to you in a professional manner. A reference letter from an employer you have worked for several years can vouch for your income, professionalism at work, dedication to the job, dependability, and more.
Base your comments on personal experience with your friend that would help convince a landlord your friend will be a good tenant. A landlord is looking for attributes that indicate stability financially, employment, care for the unit and the neighbors, and meeting all rental payments on time. Not all friends are good references. They may not have personal experience with these attributes and may not have credibility. A former landlord or an employer will always have more credibility than someone you have been friends with for many years but have not shared work, volunteer, or educational experiences.
Landlords often require reference letters from potential tenants to help them decide to who they should rent their apartments/homes. A strong reference letter can help you secure a lease over other people without references or weak letters of reference.
A tenant reference letter written by a friend with little credibility will not usually assist in securing your lease. There will be other people with stronger references for the prospective landlord to choose from. The landlord may interpret your letter as indicating that the applicant does not have good references.
The reference letter written by an employer, a co-worker, a professor, or a coach can provide personal details that support your application for a lease. They also have credibility since they are in positions that allow them to observe many of the attributes landlords are looking for when they are reviewing an application.
Your letter should be professional, follow a business format, and be no more than one page in length. Provide your contact details for the landlord to reach out to you if there are additional questions. Emphasize personal stability, financial stability, organization, and responsibility with examples supporting these attributes.
The landlord wants to know that the rent will be paid on time, that the tenant will take care of the unit, will get along with the neighbors, and not cause any issues for the owner or the property manager.
Low vacancy rates introduce a competitive situation for anyone seeking to lease an apartment/home. A strong tenant reference letter from a credible friend will increase your chances of securing a tenant lease.