How to write a character reference to a potential landlord

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Renting a new home or apartment can be challenging, adding stress to your time, work, finances and relationships. One way to make things go more smoothly is for the renter to have on hand one or more letters that can recommend her as a responsible person with qualities that meet a potential landlord's approval.

Landlords release their properties into the hands of renters and want to feel trust in whomever they select. Character traits that will help are reliability, responsibility, trustworthiness, cleanliness, and promptness with payments. When a friend or loved one asks you to write a letter to recommend him for his new home, focus on the person's best qualities.

Think about the aspects of your friend that are strong character traits, and jot them down on a scratch pad. Consider personal and business qualities if you are aware of both.

Open your letter with a customary salutation, such as "Dear Sir" or "To Whom It May Concern." Introduce the purpose of the letter with a line about the purpose of your letter and how you know the person who hopes to rent: "Mary Mayson has told me she is looking for a new home and has asked me to write a letter of reference for her, and I am happy to comply. Ms. Mayson (Mary) and I have been friends and co-workers for 15 years." Keep it brief and clear as to your relationship to your friend. The landlord wants to know you have a real relationship that gives you enough knowledge about Mary. It's a bit more difficult to persuade someone else that Mary is a reliable person if you've only known her three months.

Structure the body of the letter by elaborating on your friend's qualities that will assure the landlord she's a good candidate to rent the property. Mary leads such-and-such a group, manages her resources well, volunteers for the Senior Center and never complains about anything. She's quiet and not up partying until 4 a.m. Her communication skills are extensive, and she's the go-to gal at the office. She has earned the trust of our CEO and all the managers. She's prompt and reasonable, etc. List the qualities you noted earlier, in sentence form. Try to avoid just a long list. Give examples, but limit it to two or three paragraphs.

Close your letter by saying something about how you are confident Mary will make an exemplary and responsible renter and that you recommend her highly. Offer to have the landlord contact you for any further comments or questions.

Sign the letter cordially and with your name. Add contact information if it's not at the top of a letterhead page. Keep the entire letter to one page.