Do you need a Letter of Explanation?
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
Do you need a letter of explanation to turn in with your rental application? If you have something that needs to be explained on your rental application then the answer is YES! Writing a letter of explanation can go a long way in getting your application approved. The letter must be true — don’t over-exaggerate or lie. Simply state the facts, including your understanding at the time, the roles others played and, ultimately, why you were unable to pay your bills on time, why you broke your lease or got evicted, or you may need to explain your criminal history.
It’s important to take ownership and try not to blame others. Don't blame the apartment community because you broke the lease or were evicted - unless you have proof to support your claim that you followed the law. For example, if you stopped paying rent because of an unresolved maintenance issue - YOU VIOLATED your lease agreement and were evicted for not paying your rent. There were likely actions you could have taken to resolve your maintenance issue exercising your tenant rights under the law. (See Handling Disputes with Your Landlord) Whereas, if you were deployed for military duty and you notified the manager in writing including providing your government documentation and the community mistakenly reported a broken lease against you - you may be able to shed light on the mistake. Along with your letter Include documentation, show receipts, letters, contracts, dismissal orders and any other documents that will support your claims. Always send copies — keep the originals in a safe place. Promise to avoid further problems. To the extent you made avoidable mistakes, promise to never repeat them again. Additionally, demonstrate to your new potential landlord the lessons you learned —and the concrete steps you’ve taken to prevent problems from occurring again. Keep in mind landlords want to lease to people that will pay their rent on time and not cause any disruptions at the community.
Sample Letter (broken lease) To Whom It May Concern: I am sending you this letter and the attached documents to explain my broken lease at XYZ Apartments. Which happened in January 2015.
When this occurred, my father had a stroke. At the time, I worked for [company] and my employer graciously allowed me to take a leave of absence so that I could care for my ill father . Unfortunately, I expended all of my vacation and sick days I had saved up with my employer.
During this time I drained most of my savings, and I was unable to pay my rent on time. I informed my apartment manager in writing that due to my father’s illness and my lack of financial resources I would have to end my lease and move in with my father. I took care of my father until I could arrange for him to sell his home and move into an assisted living facility.
Although I did break my lease, I had paid rent on time for 10 months of my 12 month lease. I left the apartment in excellent move out condition. After getting back on my feet, I made attempts to make payment arrangements with the apartment community. However, the debt was already in collections and I was informed that to satisfy the debt it would need to be paid in full.
I have currently been living at an extended stay hotel for the past 12 months. I included a letter from the manager at the extended stay hotel where I have paid my weekly rent on time. My goal is to rent an apartment and continue to build up my savings so that I can satisfy my housing debt and have adequate funds in case of emergency. In addition to my full time job that I have had for the last 13 months. I also work part time as an Uber driver and have been doing this in my spare time for last 6 months.
I honestly did not fully understand how a broken lease could impact my ability to lease another apartment. I will not break a lease again. Thanks for the consideration. If given the opportunity, I will prove to be an outstanding tenant at XYZ Community. Sincerely, [Your Signature]
Sample Letter (Bad Credit)
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is in reference to our rental application at XYZ Apartments. We understand that our credit ratings are low and the purpose of this letter to explain the reason for this, and how we have remedied our financial situation.
On DATE, the company I worked for laid off 200 employees including myself. During the exit interview, I was told it was because the company needed to reduce spending due to the economic downturn. I was in good standing with the company and was given a letter of recommendation from my supervisor. Because of the economic situation, I was unable to get another job until DATE. During the time I was out of work, my family lived on my wife’s salary. We were unable to make payments on our credit cards.
Since I got my new job, we have resumed payments on all of our debts and plan to pay them off. We have never had a late payment or issue associated with paying rent. We do understand that you might find us to be at risk because of our credit score. We are willing to pay a higher deposit or risk fee.
We hope you take this letter into account when considering our rental application. You will be glad you agreed to lease to us.
Sample Letter (Criminal)
To Whom It May Concern:
I have applied to rent an apartment at your community. I anticipate that you may have some concerns about my criminal history, so I wanted to provide you with some explanation.
I was convicted of a felony offense in 2010 for drug possession. (Don’t go into extensive detail, just state the facts) I regret this period of my life and I take full responsibility for my actions. At that time, I struggled with addiction. After my 2010 conviction, I entered a residential drug treatment program for 90 days. I successfully completed the program and have not used drugs for 7 years. (Speak to your specific situation)
I have also moved forward in other areas of my life. I obtained my a degree in XXXXXX from XYZ College. (What have you done to improve yourself?) I am also taking online classes to further my education. I have been gainfully employed at XYZ company for the last 5 years. I have been given numerous promotions and salary increases during this time.
Due to my criminal background I have been unable to lease an apartment. I have rented a room for the last 4 years and I have proof of making on time rental payments to my landlord on my bank statements. If given the opportunity I will make on time rental payments to your community.
Thank you for considering this information. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX .
At Texas Apartment Locating, we are non-judgmental and feel everyone deserves a second chance. We have your back and we want you to be approved! We are only paid for our locating service if you are APPROVED and you list us as your referral source on guest cards and applications. Your locator will be happy to take a look at your letter of explanation before you submit it and give you honest feedback. We will search for apartments that will consider your application. Not all apartments offer second chance leasing.
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