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9 Tips For Giving Landlord References
If you have been a the landlording business for a while, you are going to run into inquiries from other landlords with friendly requests for tenant reference checks.
In some places, this is called a landlord reference. In others, it might be termed a tenant reference.
They mean the same thing.
It is the act of a landlord to seek more information about a prospective tenant from a previous landlord.
A wise-guy might insist that a tenant reference refers to a tenant seeking information from another tenant for detailed information about a landlord. But while these events do happen frequently, they are usually informal and does not carry a special label to describe the act.
If you feel that it is too much trouble to help another landlord out, do consider re-thinking that mentality.
Because it could be you one day who will be trying to reach another landlord for input.
So do pay it forward so that we can build a helpful community.
Landlord reference letter
The most cordial way to respond to reference inquiries is with a proper landlord reference letter.
You either can use a template or write one yourself.
When going DIY, consider including the following information.
- State the date of the letter
- Provide the full name of the tenant in question
- Mention the address of the rental property and the tenancy period
- Whether the tenant regularly paid rent in a timely manner
- Why there were occurrences of delayed rental collection and how the issue was resolved
- Condition of the house when the tenant moved in and when it was vacated
- How well the tenant got along with you and other residents
- A final summary of your relationship with the tenant
- Your contact information (e.g. email, phone number)
Also be mindful that when you are putting things into writing, it’s all documented in black and white… with possibly the fair housing laws looking over your shoulders. So don’t mention anything you might regret later about the tenant in question.
In view of the possibility of letter exposing you to potential liabilities, I find it better to give tenant references over the phone with a voice call.
Phone conversations create a genuine interaction between 2 people.
You will be able to sense the tone of the caller on the other end of the line, and hear about the other party’s opinions and views.
Other than that, making more landlording friends can only help enhance your real estating activities… unless you have the unhealthy practice of viewing every other property investor as competitors.
With the convenience of SMS and instant messenger apps taking over our smart phones these days, it would be no surprise of you prefer using text messages to provide information.
But like using a rental reference letter, text messages keeps a record of what you say.
Even if you didn’t mean something, the way the receiver interprets your message might be something totally different.
So I still advocate actual conversations over the phone.
How to approach reference requests
There is no right or wrong ways to share information. Some landlords love to share while others are just jerks.
Do keep these things in mind when giving reference.
Tell the truth. If something is your personal opinion, do state that it is your opinion.
Do not discuss your personal opinions as if they are the whole truth.
Back up claims with facts
You might loathe your tenant and wish him the worse.
But those are your personal feelings.
If you make glamorous claims and statements about your previous tenant, you must be able to back it up with facts.
Don’t get personal
Letting emotions take over you and describing your previous tenant as a loser is really not the gentlemanly thing to do.
keep things to the point.
Or else… you will just be another grouchy landlord who cannot let go of the past.
Finally, it’s worth noting that most landlords would prefer to obtain a landlord reference letter from you.
If you are doing that, don’t forget to use pretty letter heads and use formal language so that you look professional in the eyes of others in the same business as you.