Your tenant has decided to move on to another location and they have asked for a reference. Most reference checks are conducted over the phone or by written letter. Phone calls are pretty easy and straightforward, but if your tenant requests a written letter, it can be hard to think of what to write.
Here are some thoughts to keep in mind before you go ahead.
Are you familiar with the laws?
You need to be aware of the rules when it comes to writing a reference. You cannot reveal any personal information nor provide any negative details about the tenants. This can get sticky if you have had issues with them.
Are you telling the truth?
Tell the truth. If you say anything that is a lie, it will come back to you at some point. Stick to the facts and don’t let emotions come into it. If they paid late, say they paid late but don’t rant about it.
What specific details can you write?
Make it personal and specific about the tenant. Describe the tenant, but leave any emotions out. Remember to stick to the facts. Don’t just say they were great, say why they were great.
How long did they stay there?
Discuss how long they lived in your property and whether they paid their rent on time, every time. If there were issues, then state the facts.
Did they look after the property?
How good were the tenants at keeping the property clean and tidy? Did they treat the property with respect?
Can you stand by it?
Assume that the tenants will read the letter, (or find out about the conversation you have with future landlords). Don’t write (or say) anything that you wouldn’t want on the front page of the newspaper. Make sure you can back up anything you have to say.
Are you available for a follow-up call?
Provide your details so a future landlord can get in contact with you. If you are happy to provide a reference, then you do need to be available to discuss anything.
Does it look professional?
Make the letter look professional and not scribbled on a piece of paper. A text message also isn’t sufficient (unless the future landlord contacts you in this fashion). Try to remain professional in all aspects. Remember owning property is a business venture, so make sure that you continue that mindset.
When was the last time you had to give a reference for a tenant? Did you provide a verbal or written reference?