Recommendation letter when applying for rental apartment

After living in my apartment for 16 years, circumstances have changed and I have to move.

I assume that a recommendation letter from my current landlord wouldn’t hurt my chances when I apply for my next apt, so I’m asking:

Landlords/managers: What specifics do you like to see in such a letter? Anything in addition to the usual pays-rent-on-time, adheres strictly to the lease, is cooperative, etc?

Tenants: Have you used such a letter? What did yours include?

I didn’t even know they were a thing. Maybe in urban areas?

I’d ignore it, I have to check with previous landlords anyway, and I wouldn’t trust any such letter.

I work for a property management company in Chicago, and I’ve never heard of such a thing (although that’s not my department). If someone passes the criminal background and credit checks, and makes enough money to afford the apartment, then we will approve their application. After all, each application we reject will cost us money as that apartment sits vacant until the next person comes along.

Sure, if there’s only one application. The problem is what if there’s multiple applicants?

In order to avoid any semblance of housing discrimination, most property management companies have clear criteria for how they determine the “best qualified” applicant. Those are going to be things like length of employment and rental history, provable income, credit score, etc. They want to be able to document why they approved one applicant and rejected another, so a heartfelt letter from the old landlord isn’t going to help. Of course some management companies don’t even want to take that risk and operate on a strictly first come, first serve basis where the first approved application turned in gets it period.

On the other hand, a letter like that might sway a private landlord. I certainly recall back in my renting days having to “audition” for a few places.

All “landlords” (and/or their agents) are supposed to follow Federal Fair Housing rules and practices, so regardless of how many people are wanting to apply, the LL/agent will accept the first applicant who meets whatever their stated qualifications are.

A “Letter of Recommendation” (which could have been typed by your great-aunt and signed by your best friend of 10 years and printed on some slick computer-generated “letterhead”) isn’t going to matter; getting a positive referral when asked for a reference and typically on the LL’s/agent’s pre-printed form, will.
Good luck to you!

where do you live? if you need recommendation letters from previous landlords, I’d like to know so I can avoid living there.

That’s not what the fair housing rules say, though. Landlords just aren’t allowed to discriminate based on certain explicitly named factors like age, race, gender, etc. They are free to discriminate for reasons not listed. Like I mentioned, some professional rental companies have decided the best way to avoid any accusations of discrimination is to simply adopt a first come first serve policy, but not all of them.

Of course that’s not what the Code says; the government can not limit themselves to less than 10 words TO express a concept. Where did you get that I was quoting/citing EHO, when I was merely referring to it?

Most people engaged in the business who ARE ethical and follow both the letter - and spirit - of the law, utilize pre-determined guidelines when selecting residents; to most, a letter of recommendation from a prior landlord is a moot point. If you’re dealing with someone who *isn’t * part of the “most”, you might want to reconsider renting from them, as if they’re willing to bend/ignore the law on one issue to work IN one’s favor, they’ll be willing to do it on others…

…which might not work TO one’s advantage.
But what the fuck do I know? I’ve only been successfully advising others in the business (and getting paid well to do it) for over 30 years, in over 5 states.

(bolding mine)

That’s pretty much what I said in my first post. But “utilizing pre-determined guidelines when selecting residents” can also mean selecting the best renter based on quantifiable (and non-protected) criteria, not just first come first served. When you said this:

That pretty strongly implies that the “first come first serve” model is required either legally or ethically by the fair housing standards, which is not the case. (If you think it is, let’s please have a cite.)

Granted, I’m sure there are places where “first come first serve” is normal operating practice, but in rental markets with higher vacancy rates that’s usually moot anyways since there aren’t often multiple applicants. Where I live, we have a very competitive market and virtually all the rental companies have some sort of “best qualified” applicant procedure.

As I HAD written (which is vastly different from what you believe you saw when choosing to NOT read my words, but instead to ‘read between the lines’) MOST ethical companies who comply with the law and with the spirit of the law, regardless of the competitiveness of the market, subscribe to a “first-come, first-served” methodology when selecting a qualified candidate to avoid any potential of discrimination.

The first application received is either qualified (per the LL’s/agent’s written criteria) or it’s not. If it is, no further applications are reviewed, so there is no such thing as “better” qualified or “less” qualified. If it’s not, the process moves on to the 2nd application which was received in chronological order.

Citation to fact? Empirical data. 20+ years of advising clients (i.e., getting paid - well - TO do it) as to the legalities of such matters in the extremely competitive San Francisco/Bay Area real estate market.

Other than your argumentative nature, where’s your citation-to-fact that I am incorrect?

My landlord is in his mid-80s, in declining health, and recently moved into a senior care facility. When I last spoke to him, he sounded very weak.

Should the worst occur, he would unavailable as a reference.

His current wife, whom he married 4-5 years ago, has not been involved in the management of this bldg, and while she could confirm my tenancy using the landlord’s paperwork, she might know little about the more “qualitative” aspects of my tenancy.

I work at home and have helped landlord with tasks that otherwise would have required him to visit. So I’ve saved him alot of hassle. We have a great business and personal relationship.

But he might not be around long.

Firstly I realize you’re a little new here, but in general saying “I’ve been doing such and such for such and such years” is what we call an argument from authority, which is fallacious in any circumstance, but especially so on the internet where there’s not really any way to verify one’s status as an authority. I don’t doubt what you say about your experience, but would still much prefer a more tangible and verifiable citation.

Anyways, where exactly do you think I misinterpreted your words? I understand that you contend that the “spirit” of the equal housing opportunity laws requires ethical landlords to be first come first serve, I simply don’t agree.

It seems pretty clear to me that the “spirit” of the EHO laws is exactly what they say-- to prevent landlords from discriminating based on the specifically enumerated classes. I don’t see how forcing the landlords to accept a worse-qualified (in terms of income, rental history, etc.) applicant just because they got their application in earlier in any way furthers the goal of preventing discrimination against those protected classes.

Now, maybe your own personal code of ethics says that doing the “most qualified tenant” thing is kind of a scummy thing to do. I certainly understand that, since I have been on the wrong side of the process before and it is immensely frustrating from the renter’s perspective. But I have never, ever seen any suggestion that it is generally thought to be unethical. I can’t find you a cite disproving that claim because I can’t even find a cite where someone is making the claim other than this thread!

Since we’re arguing from authority today, I’m a lawyer, and you’re incorrect.

Selecting the first qualified applicant may be a smart practice, but it’s because it avoids the appearance of discrimination, not because of “the spirit” of the FHA or any implementing regulation.

I never said it’s a “scummy” thing to do; I inferred it’s flirting with a Fair Housing lawsuit. I advise clients so they DON’T face Fair Housing lawsuits.

Sorry, but you’ll get no citations; citations would include my real name, which would include my real profession, which would include my real contact information. THAT doesn’t go on online social sites as - while it’s true I’m new here - this is NOT my first online rodeo.

Besides, this was posted in the “IMHO” forum…so, it really doesn’t matter who does or does not believe me; factually-speaking, I was responding with an informed and educated and professional opinion to the OP’s question. I wasn’t really posting my original or subsequent replies in this thread to bolster your ability to argue online over matters you’ve proven you know very little about, to simply exercise your mettle.

Best of luck to you in your future landlording endeavors.

And, best of luck to you, OP, with your attempts to secure the rental housing you most desire.

If the citations “have to include your real name”, everyone will presume you don’t have anything to cite other than yourself.

Then, their presumptions would be correct. YOU figure it out from there.

So you made it up.

If “you made it up” is code for “your decision stands”, then yes…you DID figure it out. I do not believe for one second you were speaking in code, though.
Thank goodness there’s only two of us participating in this thread, now. Next, there’ll be only one, as the OP appears to have received the answer, pages ago.