You're a property owner or leaser and have a space to rent — an apartment, a house, or an extra bedroom. Your rental property can be an amazing investment and a sizable source of income, and finding tenants is a key part of your success. Thankfully, you don't have to be an experienced property manager or hire a property management company to find the perfect renters for your space.
After spending so much time creating an amazing space (see the below property in San Francisco), it's time to find quality tenants who will take care of your property and pay bills on time.
Where to Post
Years ago, you could find potential tenants by submitting an ad that included your rental property and phone number in the newspaper. As the world becomes more digital, posting online makes getting new tenants much easier. While there are dozens of websites that help with this, here's a list of the most popular websites, including some that provide support with tenant screening, credit checks, and collecting payments.
Like the digital version of newspaper classifieds, Craigslist is great because you can find anything on there, and it's free. However, Craigslist is also challenging because you can find anything on there. Also, anyone can post anything, which means your real property may have to compete with properties that are actually scams. Additionally, there’s no screening for prospective tenants on Craigslist, so you will have to spend more time to find potential renters who are the perfect match.
Kopa is a marketplace specializing in furnished rentals for 1-12+ months. Kopa makes finding good tenants easier by requiring a rental application that includes proof of employment and income, as well as eviction history, smoking habits, and pet information. Kopa allows previous landlords to write reviews of each tenant, so you can see references all in one space. Landlords only pay a fee when they get new tenants from Kopa, and renters send all payments, including their security deposit and all monthly rent payments through the website for easier bookkeeping.
Furnished Finder specializes in sourcing furnished housing for traveling medical professionals. The service costs $100/year to list your property, but you're not guaranteed any bookings for that fee. Furnished Finder partnered with Cozy, a background check company, to verify tenants and notify you of any eviction history. Since Furnished Finder doesn't allow you to collect payments through the website, you'll have to do that via Cozy or another method.
Popular real estate website Zillow is free to post on for landlords who have just a few properties. When you post your property on Zillow, your listing will also appear on Trulia and HotPads. The downside of Zillow is that you'll be competing with large property management companies who pay for their listings to appear at the top of search results, so tenants will have to scroll through many website pages to find your listing.
Apartments.com is the most visited rental property website in the United States and is free to use for people with just a few properties. When you post your property, it's automatically posted on ForRent.com, Apartment Finder, and apartmenthomeliving. Like Zillow, your listing will appear below all the sponsored listings. These websites don't conduct any tenant screening, help with background checks, or enable you to receive payments through them.
Share your property listing with your friends on your own Instagram or Facebook feed, in a housing-specific group on Facebook, or on Facebook Marketplace. Social media websites are the best place to find a sublet. Similar to Craigslist, these websites don't offer a screening process, but you never know when a friend-of-a-friend happens to be looking for a place to live.
What to include in your post
Potential tenants are looking for their dream space, and they're looking for lots of information to determine which rental property is best for them.
Lots of photos
Photos are crucial for a successful rental property listing. Renters are looking for at least one clear picture of every room. You want potential tenants to be able to picture themselves in your rental property. Aim for eight or more photos, and your property will stand out to quality tenants.
Pro Tip: Take your photos from the corner of the room and in natural daylight. This will help make all of your rooms look spacious and inviting.
Provide as much information as possible to renters. Consider the questions you had as a renter and make sure to cover the basics:
- Location: We recommend not sharing the exact address for safety reasons. However, you can share the cross section to give potential tenants an idea of where the space is located.
- Size: How many square feet is the entire space? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? How much storage space is there?
- Price: What is the monthly rent price? Are you willing to offer a discount for a longer stay?
- Specifics: What direction does the property face?
- The best parts: Does the property have a great view? Does it have amazingly tall ceilings? Did you recently renovate the rental property?
- Neighborhood: What's the vibe of the neighborhood? Is there a great coffee place right around the corner? How far away is the nearest public transit stop or grocery store?
To help weed out renters that might not be a good fit, include information about the next steps in the screening process for prospective tenants. Let renters know if they need to submit a credit check and rental application, sign a lease agreement, what contact information you need from them (like a phone number or email address), and if first or last month's rent or a security deposit is required before move-in.
Note: For most online apartment marketplaces like Kopa, you won't need to ask for contact information or provide yours. Those websites typically have profiles for all renters and hosts and make it easy to communicate via the website.
Renters are wary of scams, so adding information about you will tell them you're a real person with a real property. Let them know what type of host you are — whether you're a real estate agent, realtor, private homeowner, or someone with an extra room. Don't forget to include your contact information — especially your phone number — so potential renters can contact you.
Post and be ready for inquiries
Once you post your listing anywhere online, be ready to respond to any website, email, phone, or text inquiries from people who might be the right tenants. In some instances, finding the right tenants might take a day or a few weeks depending on your location and property. If you aren't getting enough inquiries, consider lowering the monthly rent price, adding more photos or information, or posting on a different website. You'll find great tenants in due time!