It can be a daunting task to write a letter attesting to the good character of your friend or even a former tenant. You want to say the right things about them and make darn sure that they get their dream apartment. If they don't get it, and they suspect that your letter was even remotely to blame for their refusal, there'll be trouble.
Character reference letters don't have to be tricky if you follow a few basic rules. First, place yourself in the mindset of the reader, in our case a land lord or a property manager. Ask yourself what qualities might they be looking for in terms of an ideal tenant? Make a list of ten or so ideal qualities and then compare your friend's character with the list. Be honest about it. Ask yourself if you were the landlord, would you rent to this person?
Don't answer your questions with a simple yes or no answer. Use a show and tell approach and you will soon have a well written letter that your can be proud of and will be certain to impress your friend's good character upon the landlord.
Here is a shortlist of items that you might consider asking yourself about your friend:
1. Does your friend have a good record of paying their rent on time?
2. Does your friend get along well with the neighbors?
3. If there were ever any complaints made, were they resolved amicably and quickly?
4. Has your friend kept their apartment and its appliances in good condition, not being damaged through neglect or abuse?
5. Has your friend always cooperated with the landlord during an inspection or repair?
6. If any repairs were necessary as a result of your friend's actions, were they accomplished quickly and without complications?
7. Has the housekeeping practices of your friend been acceptable?
8. Has your friend kept up with monthly utility payments?
9. If you are a landlord, would you rent an apartment to this person again?
If you are a landlord, answering the last question can be tricky. Some landlords might be tempted to say "gladly" in an attempt to ease the departure of some tenants. After all, if the prospective landlord sees a negative response, it's not likely that they will want to rent to your friend.
Using the show and tell response method in answering these questions you might say something like "Mary Jo always kept her appliances clean and in good working order. She handled any the minor repairs completely on her own, not troubling our service staff with unnecessary service calls. Our records show that last year she had fewer service calls than most other tenants."
Above all, be truthful about your friend's character. Answering these questions will give the landlord a pretty good idea about how your friend measures up against their idea of a perfect tenant. Give your friend the benefit of your honest opinion and they will be sure to get that dream apartment, and you will get the warm fuzzy feeling of being a true friend.