Tenant Rejection Letter

In our experience, landlords reject tenants over the phone and keep the paper trail at home.  If you feel that the situation warrants sharing the rejection in writing, then you can use the tenant rejection letter below.

We strongly recommend you support your rejection with our objective point scoring system.  This helps you defend yourself against charges that you discriminated.  The letter below was written with this in mind.

Some things to consider:

  1. The "immediate disqualifications" refer to the top of our applicant qualifier.  You should write in the disqualification and check the box.
  2. When a tenant fails because they don't get enough points, you should have already discussed alternatives with them.  In particular, encourage them to get an additional roommate (if there's capacity for another unrelated person) or a cosigner to score more points.
  3. "Other reasons" is meant to give you the freedom to write something here, but it might be just enough rope to hang yourself.  Stick with reasons that you apply objectively across all prospective tenants, like "immediate disqualifications" and "point score".
  4. If you reject for credit or bankruptcy, you must also provide the adverse action letter in that format and with that wording.
  5. If rejecting an applicant for pets in a no-pets apartment, be sure the animal is not actually a service or support animal (don't ask, just be aware if they have ever mentioned this). Sometimes applicants will volunteer to remove an animal from the household to get an apartment. This is not a credible offering, and you would not ask someone to give up living with a chosen roommate just because they had bad credit or another disqualifier. So stick to your decision and decline. This will ensure your renters do not move in an unexpected pet.

We have long urged landlords to use a formal scoring system such as our applicant qualifier to evaluate potential renters. This creates an even playing field for every applicant, allows you to objectively analyze qualifications, and helps protect you against discrimination allegations.

A screenshot of the top portion of our application status form is bordered by a bright blue background. The visible portion of the form reads: “Notice of Application Status” with fields for the sender and recipient names, the rental address and the date of the notice. It states “Thank you for participating in our application process. At this time your application is not approved.” A checkbox is beside the words “Your application has an immediate disqualification. A disqualification means that either you or a co-applicant had a serious problem with your application. If anyone is disqualified, the whole household is disqualified. We cannot reconsider your household’s application, any individual application or any combination of applications unless you can show we made an error.”

While most landlords prefer to reject rental applications over the phone, our new application status form is available should you need to put your reasons in writing. (Image License: CC by SA 4.0 MassLandlords, Inc.)

When someone is not qualified for a rental, most of us prefer to keep our paperwork at home and make a phone call to reject the applicant. But there are times when you may want or need to provide a decision in writing, and that’s where our notice of application status letter comes in.

Also known as the tenant rejection letter, this form was written with our objective point scoring system in mind. The first page of the letter includes a list of “immediate disqualifiers” that are straight from our applicant qualifier form. If this section applies to your applicant, simply select the reason from the list.

The second page is for applicants who simply did not score enough points to qualify for the rental, based on our applicant scoring system. If your applicant does not score enough points, you can encourage them to get a cosigner or roommate if that will help boost their score enough to qualify.

Note that the “other reasons” section can be filled in on either checklist, but you should be careful using it, as this also opens the door to discrimination charges or other allegations. If you reject an applicant for credit or bankruptcy reasons, you must also provide an adverse action letter, using the provided format and verbiage.

The notice of application status form, along with many others, is available to all MassLandlords members in good standing.

Latest Version: 3
  • v3
    • Internal revisions
  • v2
    • Starting verion

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Sample of Massachusetts tenancy at will rental agreement

MassLandlords is a nonprofit dedicated to helping owners rent their property. We try our best, but we can't guarantee these forms will always work. We provide legal information but never advice particular to your situation. Nothing on this site is meant to create an attorney-client relationship. We advise you consult with an attorney.

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