Having good people in your life comes in handy for many reasons. They're especially nice to have around when you need a personal reference for an apartment.
Adding that extra dimension to your rental application can make all the difference in the daunting process of getting an apartment. With all the time property managers spend verifying your income and employment, looking at your rental history and scrutinizing your credit score, they need a reminder you're an actual human being.
Submitting references from people who really know you make your rental application stand out. A solid reference can even push you to the top of the list and get you that apartment.
Your family is the perfect place to start when looking for a personal reference for an apartment. Who knows you better? They can be especially helpful if you're a first-time renter since your parents would have served as your unofficial landlords leading up to this rental application.
Start with your parents, but then branch out if need be to more distant relatives. If you spend summers with your grandparents, they could help. If you've ever worked for an Aunt or Uncle, ask them to write a reference. You never know who's going to be able to illustrate why you'd make a good tenant.
Your family loves you and wants to help, but make sure they don't go too over-the-top. You may even want to give them a template to follow to keep their referral focused and not too emotional. It wouldn't do you much good for Grandma to say you'd make a great tenant because you call her every week.
As with family, your close friends will know you really well. They'd also say anything to help you get that dream apartment. This means they're not always the most reliable source from a property manager's perspective.
Your friends know you in a social sense. They may have observed you being responsible, or know because you told them that you pay your bills on time, but they've no stake in the game.
As a straight character reference, a friend can be great, but they're not really ideal when it comes to illustrating whether you possess the characteristics of a good tenant.
If this person is planning on moving in with you, don't use them as a reference. They'll need references of their own. But, if your significant other is still newly significant, you can consider using them as a personal reference.
Most other references are going to get taken more seriously by a property manager, so you should probably put them lower on your priority list.
Enlisting a professor to write a reference letter is a good move when coming right out of college. Their feedback can prove helpful when filling out your first rental application. Even though you don't work for them, they can speak to your work ethic and responsible nature.
Ask a professor from who you took multiple classes, or whose office hours you frequented. You'll be more memorable to them than a professor whose classes you just attended.
Make sure you're not planning on using them as a reference while school is out though. Many academics use that as their vacation time to unplug. They may be much harder to reach.
Picking a mentor means finding someone whose life and/or work you admire. It's a person who you believe can help guide you on your own path. This is a person you look up to, but also someone you communicate with effectively. They'll get to know you through your aspirations and professional and personal goals, making them a great option to write a reference letter about your drive, responsibility and focus.
Mentors can provide an unbiased look into your values and strengths and pass that information on to your potential property manager.
If you don't already have a mentor, don't run out and find one just to get a personal reference for an apartment. You won't have the time to build the relationship necessary to get a genuine letter. It will make you seem like you have an ulterior motive to seeking them out in the first place.
If you played sports in college, or even as far back as high school, coaches are another good source for a personal reference. As a mentor, they'll have seen you in an unbiased environment where it's possible to observe your true strengths and weaknesses. If you excelled in your sport as a strong team member in any way and know you have a good report with a particular coach, feel free to reach out.
Using a coach as a personal reference will backfire if you were only part of a team for a short while or a large amount of time has elapsed. They may not remember you well enough to recall specific traits about you as a person, and you need your references to feel genuine.
Having a strong connection with your local religious leader may make them a good reference source for you. They'll have gotten to know you and should approach a referral without too much bias. However, they'll also only know you in a limited capacity. You don't typically work with a religious leader, and they don't get to observe you in your day-to-day life. If you taught at the religious school or helped around your place of worship, it might be a different story.
Additionally, using clergy to write a personal reference for an apartment can open you up to religious bias. Although it's not legal to refuse you access to an apartment based on religion, among other things, it may be enough to put you lower on the list of applicants if there's a lot of interest in the apartment.
If you have a solid rental history, asking a previous property manager to write a personal reference for an apartment can hold a lot of credibility. After all, they speak the language of property rentals.
A previous property manager can validate your reliable rent-payment history, confirm you left your past apartment in stellar condition and talk about what makes you such a great tenant.
The only drawback to going this route is if your previous property manager doesn't remember things the same way you did. Even worse, if they don't remember you at all. It's great if they can look back at their records and prove you pay your rent on time, but if they can't vouch for what a mature and responsible tenant you were, their letter may not help that much.
It's also not so great if they remember situations from your tenancy that were less-than-stellar, like that one time you left a bag of trash outside your door for a week or the one night you got a noise complaint.
You don't have to go to the top when asking someone from work to write a personal reference for you. Managers are great, but co-workers are OK, too. Both can showcase your responsible nature. Your manager can even pull double-duty, talking up your qualities while verifying your employment at the same time.
Make sure they talk about your attention to detail, your ability to meet deadlines and your courtesy to others. All these characteristics can translate into those of an excellent tenant.
The trick to asking someone from work to write a reference is making sure it's someone who really knows you. Going for someone in the office with the flashiest title won't do you any good if they can't talk to the specific work you do.
You're also asking a work connection for a personal favor. Understand that they may not have time — or feel comfortable — doing this for you. If so, be gracious, but have a backup plan.
Regardless of who you line up to write your personal references, you must ask each person first. Even if they don't need to write a letter but you would like to add their name to the group of people OK to call, they need advance notice.
To keep things organized, make a master list of who's willing to write you a reference letter and who's willing to field a phone call. Include a few back-ups in case you need to provide more options than you'd planned for or your property manager can't reach someone.
Apartment applications as a whole don't have to be intimidating. Having a quality list of the people in your life who can vouch for you can make all the difference. Giving yourself an arsenal of positivity to unleash on waiting property managers as you start your search can set you apart and get you that apartment.