Writing a tenant reference: How to do it

Writing a tenant reference: How to do it

When your tenants move out, there’s a strong chance they’ll ask their landlord for a reference – unless they know they’ve been awful tenants, of course.

If they’ve been a joy then you should absolutely write a reference to let other landlords know that they are great tenants.

But what is a tenant reference and where do you start when writing one?

A tenant reference is essentially used to provide guidance for a landlord on a tenant’s suitability to rent their property.

Think of it like a review – you wouldn’t use a tradesperson without some knowledge of their ability to do the job you require, either from reviews or recommendations, and tenants are no different in that respect.

As a landlord, you want to know, as best you can, that your tenant will pay the rent in full and on time and they’ll look after your rental property.


How to write a tenant reference

More often than not, the request for a reference will come from either your tenant’s new landlord, a letting agent or, most commonly, a tenant referencing company.

In the case of the latter, usually simple responses to questions set by the referencing firm will be adequate enough.

But in many cases providing a tenant reference means starting from scratch.


Any tenant reference should include basic information to begin with.

You should include:

  • The tenant’s name
  • The dates of their tenancy with you


Tenant reference letter sample

Usually only a paragraph or two is required when writing a tenant reference, so we recommend the following opening paragraph style:

Dear {First Name} / To whom it may concern,

Regarding your request for a tenant reference for {First Name} {Surname}, I can confirm {First Name} rented my property at {Address} between {Date} and {Date}.

If your tenant was good and there were no issues with them at all, usually one more paragraph should suffice:

{First Name} was a good tenant, paid his / her rent in full and on time throughout the tenancy and left the property in the same condition at the end of the tenancy as it was in when the tenancy commenced.

If your tenant was generally good, but there were some issues during the tenancy, you could amend your second paragraph to read, for example:

{First Name} was generally a good tenant, but on occasion paid his / her rent late…

{First Name} was generally a good tenant, but there were some issues with the property on check-out for which I had to deduct some of his / her deposit…

Finally, end the letter briefly outlining how the landlord, agent or referencing company can contact you should they require more information and then sign off with your name.


Proofread your reference before sending it

As well as looking out for errors, you should look at your reference through the eyes of your fellow landlord.

Have you been needlessly negative about your previous tenant?

Or, have you been overly positive?

Landlords can be a sceptical bunch and a reference that is glowing with praise and positivity could be seen as a reference aimed at getting shot of a bad tenant.

For example, {First Name} was an absolutely fantastic tenant, taking incredible care of the property and even going above and beyond in caring for the garden. I would simply love to have him / her back as a tenant in the future, could be seen as a touch over the top and too good to be true.

Keep everything factual, concise, to the point and remain neutral.


What to do if your tenant was terrible

While it might be tempting to warn off a fellow landlord about a terrible tenant, the reality is if their screening and vetting procedures are doing what they should, they should find out without a reference from you.

From your own perspective, providing an overly negative reference for a tenant could cause more problems for you, should they become aware of said reference.

In the case of bad tenants, usually a polite decline when asked to provide a reference is enough.

If you would like to discuss using Whitegates to find the right tenant for your property, contact your local Whitegates office today who would be happy to help.