The proof of residence letter, also called the proof of residency letter or the affidavit of residence, is probably the least stressful letter a landlord can write. In fact, this letter is a piece of cake.
You, as a landlord, don’t need to vouch for your tenant in a proof of residency letter. Although your tenant may be great, this letter just doesn’t need to get into that. You merely confirm that a tenant lives in your rental property.
This begs the question as to why you would be asked to write a proof of residence letter in the first place. And once you understand why, you might wonder how to go about writing this sort of letter.
Here’s what to say in a proof of residency letter, and how to carry out the request on behalf of your tenant if asked.
What a Proof of Residence Letter Is (and Is Not)
A proof of residence letter from a landlord is simply a factual statement. It provides a third party proof that your tenant does, indeed, live in your rental unit. It’s a very straightforward communication process from you, so it should not produce any hand wringing or sleepless nights.
If your tenant rents from you, and if your tenant needs you to affirm this fact to a third party, there is no downside to verifying this — assuming it’s true. You should never lie and tell someone that a person rents from and lives in your unit when they don’t. Not only is this unethical, it can land you in legal trouble.
The proof of residence letter is nothing more than what its title suggests. There is no need to embellish such a letter with any information as to what sort of tenant you have, the tenant screening reports you might have used, the results of any screening process, or anything other than providing proof to the requesting party that your tenant lives where they say they do.
What Information You Should Include in an Affidavit of Residence
The best course of action to take when starting to compose your affidavit for proof of residence letter is to determine what information is being asked of you. It’s good practice to take a personalized approach when writing this type of letter whenever possible, simply answering the questions asked of you.
If that is not possible, such as when the request comes from your tenant who isn’t sure of the exact information the recipient needs, you can take a general approach by providing information the recipient would likely want to have. If you don’t know what information to include, you can feel safe by incorporating the following:
- A statement that your tenant resides in your rental property and the address
- The term of the lease: the date your tenant moved in and the date the lease terminates
- Who else is on the lease
- Who else lives on the premises
- How much rent your tenant pays
The Difference Between a Proof of Residence Letter & a Landlord Reference
The proof of residency letter differs from a reference letter your tenant might ask you to write. If your tenant is reference worthy —meaning a terrific tenant who always pays rent on time, follows all the lease terms, and treats the rental as their own home — you would probably be delighted to write a credit reference for this tenant. But if your tenant is problematic in any way, you have a sticky situation on your hands.
You (hopefully) would not want to lie simply to get rid of a bad tenant. For example, say your tenant is always late with rent, but you say in the letter that they always pay on time. Lying by omission is no better. Maybe you simply don’t mention the awful rent payment habits in the letter, even though that is a pretty important detail to omit in a reference letter, and you know it.
Besides being unethical, you effectively perjure yourself by signing an untrue statement.
You might not want to write a reference letter, depending on the tenant you have, which then leads to another problem: telling your tenant you wish to decline to write the letter. As you can see, the reference letter could be a conundrum for a landlord, but the proof of residence letter is usually not.
Fortunately, the proof of residence letter is not a reference letter. It is stating your tenant really does live in your rental unit. Period.
Get Written Permission from Your Tenant
Sometimes you might receive a proof of residence letter request from a third party and not from your tenant. Some people who might request such a letter would be the following:
- A court
- An assistance program
- An employer
- A lender
- A notary
- The DMV
- A school
- A financial institution
If you do receive a request from anyone other than your tenant, you should let your tenant know you received the request and then get written permission from your tenant to provide the information to that third party. This protects you from any lawsuit your tenant might file against you for providing personal information about them to a third party without their consent.
Although you could get assistance from an attorney on drafting a release form, you can make one yourself, saving yourself the attorney fee. Type up a release, such as this one, and get your tenant to sign it.
Tenant Release Form
(Landlord’s phone number)
(Landlord’s email address)
(Tenant’s address, your rental property)
(Tenant’s phone number)
(Tenant’s email address)
Re: Proof of Residence letter
I hereby authorize the release of my residence information from (landlord’s name) to (recipient’s name). (Landlord) is allowed to verify the following:
- Address of rental property
- The lease term
- Persons on the lease
- Persons who live on the property
- Rent amount
*Note that the above is a generalized list to use if you don’t know the specific questions to answer. If you do know the specific questions the recipient wants you to answer, the list can change to reflect that.
Tenant Signature Date:
You would then send this form to your tenant. You can pre-fill in the parts in parentheses. Your tenant would then just need to sign the form, date it, and send it back to you. You should keep a copy for yourself and attach a copy of the release form with your proof of residence letter that you will send to the third party.
How to Draft a Proof of Residence Letter as a Landlord
You may be a wonderful communicator and pride yourself on your letter-writing skills. That may be well and good, but there is no place for embellishment of any sort on a legal form, which this proof of residence letter (or form) will be.
The best practice is to just stick with the facts. Write no more and no less. You have two choices on how to draft this letter: letter or template. A letter allows you to write in prose if that is what you prefer, and a template will be a fill-in-the-blank document.
Proof of Residence Letter Sample
Here are two examples of a proof of residence letter: one in letter form and one in template form. You could attach a copy of the lease agreement as proof to go along with your letter or form, but unless the third party specifically asks you to attach the lease, you do not necessarily need to attach it.
You might, however, need to notarize a proof of residence letter or form. You can ask your tenant or the recipient if this step is necessary. If it is, take the letter or form to a notary, sign in front of the notary, and the notary will then sign the letter or form and put their stamp on it.
Proof of Residence Letter Sample
To Whom It May Concern:
I am the landlord of (tenant’s name), and I’m writing to confirm that (tenant’s name) resides at my rental property, (address of the rental property: street number, street name, unit number if applicable, city, state, ZIP code). (Tenant’s name) lease term with me began on (start of lease) and will end on (end of lease). (Tenant’s name) lives in the home with (list people who live there). (Tenant’s name) pays me (rent amount) each month on the 1st of the month (or whatever your term is). You can contact me for more information at (phone number).
(Your signature and date)
(Your typed name and date)
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Proof of Residence Letter Template
Proof of Residence Form
Landlords’ Name ____________________________________________________________________
To Whom It May Concern:
Tenant’s Term at Address (e.g. May 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021) _________________
Landlord’s Signature ________________________________________________________________
Other Considerations for Landlords and Real Estate Investors
When you get any sort of letter-writing request from your tenant, you should respond to it as quickly as possible. You don’t always need to act on the request, such as writing a reference letter for a bad tenant. But when a tenant who rents from you asks you to verify that information to a third party, there is no reason not to honor this request.
If you do receive a request to write a proof of residency letter, get all the information you need before you start. Find out why you are receiving this request, who will receive the letter, and what sort of information they need from you.
Then get the job done in a timely manner. Ask when your tenant needs this letter, and deliver it to them on or before the date they need it. If you are late fulfilling this request, your tenant is likely to become anxious and probably won’t have any warm and fuzzy feelings about you as a landlord. If you deliver on time, however, your tenant will probably appreciate your effort. If you respect your tenant, your tenant will, in turn, be more likely to respect you.♦
Have any tips for writing a proof of residence letter? What other form letters do you keep on hand as a landlord?