How to Politely Reject a Potential Tenant

It’s not easy to deliver hard news or to tell someone they haven’t been successful in achieving something they wanted. This is especially true when it comes to property owners and potential tenants.

When landlords and property managers have to reject an applicant for a rental property, it’s important to keep the conversation polite, respectful, and honest. After all, the applicant may still need the landlord’s help in finding a rental property in the future.

Sending a Professional Rejection Letter

When rejection comes in the form of written communication, be sure to remain as professional and polite as possible. Consider the following tips for sending a rejection letter to potential tenants:

  • Personalize the rejection letter as much as possible.
  • Use non-judgmental language that isn’t overly critical.
  • Explain why they were not accepted and make sure the reasons are consistent.
  • Provide additional resources that may help them in their search.
  • End the letter respectfully.
  • Proofread the letter to make sure there are no typos, extra spacing, etc.

Have the Tenant Sign a Rejection Notice

In the rental application process, the applicant may sign and acknowledge they are aware of the landlord’s criteria for selecting potential tenants. They may also sign an agreement that states the landlord can choose to reject any applicant at any time, regardless of the reason.

Having the tenant sign a rejection notice is a great way to show that the rejection wasn’t done with any malicious intent. This puts the tenant on notice that they have been officially rejected and cannot appeal the decision.

Delivering the Rejection News in Person

It’s easier for some people to talk to the tenant via phone or in-person. But when having a face to face conversation, landlords must take extra steps to ensure the conversation is handled politely. Consider the following tips when speaking to a tenant:

  • Remain calm and polite throughout the conversation.
  • Provide adequate reasoning for the rejection.
  • Listen to their concerns or grievances without interrupting or becoming defensive.
  • Offer as much help as possible to assist them in finding a rental property.
  • Don’t apologize for the rejection.
  • End the conversation on a positive note.

How to Handle Complaints

Tenants who are rejected for their rental application might be angry or upset. It is the landlord’s responsibility to handle these complaints in a professional manner. The following tips may be useful when resolving tenant complaints:

  • Defuse the situation with kindness.
  • Remain professional and polite throughout the conversation.
  • Never take the complaints personally.
  • Explain the legal implications of filing a false complaint.
  • Ask the tenant to state their desired solution.
  • Give the tenant a direct number to reach out in case of any other issues.

Consequences of an Unprofessional Rejection

When landlords handle rejection in an unprofessional manner, it can result in a variety of consequences. For example, an unprofessional landlord may be liable for a discrimination lawsuit if they were to provide false or unfair reasons for rejecting a potential tenant. Such a lawsuit can result in financial penalties, damage to the landlord’s reputation, legal fees, and more.


It’s important for landlords to remain professional and polite when rejecting a potential tenant. Although this may be difficult, especially in emotionally charged situations, focusing on politeness and respect is essential to maintaining relationships with potential tenants and avoiding legal consequences. By following the tips mentioned in this article, landlords can make sure the rejection process goes as smoothly as possible.

No matter what the reason for the rejection, landlords must remember that it’s their responsibility to handle these conversations in a manner that is respectful, professional, and legal. Doing so will ensure the tenant’s resentment is minimized and that the landlord is fully protected in the event of a discrimination lawsuit.

What steps should I take before rejecting a potential tenant?

1. Conduct a background check: This includes a credit and criminal check to make sure the tenant can be financially responsible and can be trusted with the premises.

2. Verify references: Contact past landlords to check on the tenant’s rental history and behavior while living in those units.

3.Make sure the tenant can afford the rental: Request the tenant’s most recent pay stubs or tax returns to make sure they can actually pay the rent reliably.

4. Carefully review the lease agreement: Make sure the rental agreement is complete and clearly states the terms and conditions of the rental.

5. Consider any applicable fair housing laws: Respect tenants’ rights and make sure all rules and regulations in your area are followed.

What criteria should I consider when screening potential tenants?

1. Credit History: Collect information about current and past credit activity, such as whether payments have been made on time.

2. Income Verification: Make sure tenants are financially responsible by requiring them to provide proof of income, such as pay stubs or bank statements.

3. Past Rental History: Obtain references from past landlords to assess tenants’ rental history.

4. Job Status: Review evidence that tenants have stable employment, such as recent pay stubs or job offers.

5. Background Check: Request criminal and eviction history reports from a reputable screening service to protect yourself from unsafe tenants.

6. Application Review: Carefully consider the information provided in the application and ask questions to get additional information.

What is the best way to evaluate rental applicants?

The best way to evaluate rental applicants is to do thorough background checks, credit checks, verify references, and require proof of income. This will give you as the landlord the most accurate information to make an informed decision about the applicant. You may also want to review past rental history, if available, and request a copy of the prospective tenant’s driver’s license.

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