A bad reference from a landlord can spell disaster if you are looking again to rent. A reference letter from a prior landlord is one of the most critical documents a potential renter can use as leverage to prove his legitimacy as a reliable tenant. While there is no official way to clear a bad reference from a landlord, you can take certain steps to eliminate the possibility of a bad reference. Additionally, you can use other forms of reference or take additional steps to hopefully outweigh the previous landlord's impression.
Negotiate with your prior landlord. Discuss any discrepancies or problems between you and do what you can to resolve the situation before you go house or apartment hunting. Taking initiative to clear up difficulties -- paying interest on back payments or offering to advertise the apartment in the local newspaper, for example -- are signs of good will and can help revise the landlord's opinion of you before he commits his judgments to paper.
Obtain a letter of reference from your employer. Combat a bad reference from a landlord with a stellar letter of recommendation from your boss or supervisor. Ask professional mentors, church pastors or teachers for letters of reference as well. Make sure these letters note your upstanding nature, reliability, conviction and honesty. The more support you can demonstrate, the better.
Show financial documentation to the new landlord. Financial documentation -- such as tax records or current account statements -- provides the landlord with proof that you have the financial means to cover your rent. Offer to pay an extra, upfront security deposit, if possible. While landlords have different requirements for securing a lease -- not all ask to see tax records, for example -- volunteering this documentation may help alleviate concerns brought on by a negative reference letter.