How to Write a Proof of Residence Letter for a Tenant

Your tenant leaves you a message stating that they need to document their residential address. They weren't specific, and you're left scratching your head. You wonder, What's proof of residence? Can't they just use a utility bill? Are they confusing me with the Bureau of Consular Affairs?

Your tenant leaves you a message stating that they need to document their residential address. They weren't specific, and you're left scratching your head. You wonder, What's proof of residence? Can't they just use a utility bill? Are they confusing me with the Bureau of Consular Affairs?

There is a number of reasons why your tenant needs to produce proof of residence. These might include: 

  • To obtain a driver's license
  • To prove compliance with a court order
  • To renew a visa
  • To apply for benefits and other social assistance programs
  • To apply for a loan
  • To open an account with an online or physical financial institution

In most cases, a proof of residence letter is simply another layer of identity verification, used in conjunction with that utility bill, a photocopy of their identification, and other application materials. While a proof of residency letter is unlikely to expose you to legal trouble, it's still important to provide accurate information in the correct format. 

Laying the Groundwork

Laying the Groundwork

In your case, the tenant requested that you provide them with the letter which they will then present to the necessary persons. It's more common to receive a request directly from the agency seeking verification of your tenant's residency. Before you respond with your proof of residency letter, you'll want to clarify the information you're requested to provide.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Do they want the exact date your tenant signed their lease, the date they took possession of the property, or both?
  • Do they want to know how much rent the tenant pays each month? 
  • Are they requesting information about other household members, i.e. housemates or family residing on the premises?
  • Are they requesting any information other than the above typical data? 

Never confuse a proof of residence letter with a landlord's reference or a character reference. The former binds you to your written testimony of the tenant's qualities as a renter. The latter provides your endorsement of the tenant's personality, ethics, and values. Each of these documents has its own set of considerations and providing more information than what's requested for a proof of residence letter can leave you liable to both the tenant and to the party receiving the letter. 

Request a Release From Your Tenant

Request a Release From Your Tenant

Once you know exactly which information you're asked to provide, ask your tenant to give permission, in writing, for you to share their personal information. Now more than ever, unauthorized sharing of sensitive information is cause for legal action; you have an ethical duty to protect your tenant's information, and it's in your best interest to protect yourself and your rental business from an expensive lawsuit. Make sure your bases are covered. If you don't have legal services on retainer to assist you in drawing up documents, you can send your tenant a simple authorization letter such as this to clearly specify the information you're allowed to divulge:

Dear (Landlord):

I, (tenant's full name) allow (landlord's full name or name of agency) to provide their responses to the following questions to (name of recipient or to concerned parties i.e. 'to whom it may concern') in response to their request for proof of residency at the following address: 

(Full address).

  • Dates of tenancy
  • Amount of rent paid each month
  • Ages and number of household members
  • Who is listed as the responsible party on the lease
  • Which household members are acknowledged on the lease

I do not issue permission for sharing any information beyond what is specified above. (OPTIONAL): This authorization is valid though (specific date) after which time I revoke permission to share the above information. 

Sincerely,

(Signature, date)
(Tenant's typed full name and date)

This document is formatted as correspondence sent by your tenant to you, so be sure this letter is addressed accordingly and written in a formal business format. The tenant's address will be above the date in the header, and yours below. 

It's perfectly acceptable to request this signature either on paper or in legally-recognized digital formats (eSign, DocuSign, or AdobeSign, for example). Just be certain to keep both your request and your tenant's response on file. 

If your tenant requests a copy of your proof of residence letter, there's no reason why you shouldn't comply.

Drafting Your Tenant's Proof of Residence Letter: Just the Facts!

Drafting Your Tenant's Proof of Residence Letter

As with any legal correspondence, it's wise to confine your response to the questions asked. Don't embellish the facts, guess, or offer your opinion unless it's specifically requested, and only then when it's in your best interest to do so. (Hint: It usually isn't.)

Using a business format as outlined above (or from a template), you might write your letter like this: 

Your Address
Date
Recipient's Address

Dear (Name, or To Whom it May Concern):

This letter is a response to a request for Proof of Residence that John H. Doe resides at the following address:

123 Doe Meadows, Unit 321
Deerland, Doelaware, 23232

Mr. Doe took occupancy of the unit on 23 July, 2016 and his tenancy remains in effect as of today's date. He resides with his wife and two minor children, and is named as the responsible tenant on the lease.  As per the terms of the lease, Mr. Doe is required to pay a rental fee of $1500.00 on or before the first of each month.  If you have any questions about the above information, please reach me during business hours at (555-222-2222). 

Sincerely,

(Your Signature, Date)
(Your Typed Full Name, Date)

Note that in the above letter (which, again, is only roughly formatted), you do not indicate whether or not your tenant pays his rent in a timely fashion. Nor do you say "to my satisfaction" or "to the best of my knowledge". This isn't an endorsement or a request for financial background information; it's simply a statement that your tenant lives where he says he lives. Period. 

Need More Help? Join VerticalRent!

As a landlord who deals with any number of tenants, you'll find yourself stepping in to resolve squabbles, filling out paperwork and referrals, wrangling contractors, and marketing your property to your ideal tenants. You want to do everything in your power to remain compliant with tenant-landlord legislation.

"Passive income" is a buzzword, and it's mistakenly applied to your job... but you know there's nothing passive about it. We at VerticalRent know that, too, which is why we're proud to provide information and resources to help you earn the best returns on your efforts. Join us for access to the widest collection of letter templates and rental industry information!




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