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An Expert Guide to Advertising and Listing Your Rental Property

Key Takeaways

  • There’s more to your rental listing than a couple of paragraphs and random images. Creating an engaging ad and listing it on the right platforms are skills that will help attract quality tenants and fill your vacancy faster.
  • A persuasive rental ad requires a few key ingredients: a catchy title that commands attention, a brief but informative description of your property's offerings, and captivating photos that highlight its features and perks.
  • List your rental ad on platforms that fit your needs and budget. Leverage social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to help spread the word about your property. Once your ad goes live, review it periodically for engagement and make changes as necessary.

Published on May 23, 2024 | Updated on May 23, 2024

A screenshot of the first step in creating an online rental listing. There are photos of an apartment's kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, empty fields to fill in rental unit details underneath, and an online navigation of menu items to one side, with "Rental unit details" checked off.

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Several steps are involved in finding a solid tenant, but it all starts with getting your rental property noticed. And that means crafting a compelling, attention-grabbing ad that motivates potential tenants to line up at your door. 

Creating a rental ad that stands out among the sea of listings is no small feat—and as a long-time landlord, I can attest to that. How do I write a title that spurs renters to click on my listing? What details should I mention? How many photos should I include? These are just some of the questions you may have.

In this guide, I’ll share some of my proven strategies for creating a rental ad that gets noticed and sparks interest from quality tenants. 

Write an engaging title

The title is the most critical part of your rental property listing. It’s the first thing a tenant sees when searching for their ideal property. And it takes only a split second for them to decide whether to click on your ad or keep scrolling.

Therefore, make your title as inviting as possible. It needs to be memorable.

First, communicate your rental property’s most noteworthy features and benefits. Put yourself in the shoes of a renter: what matters most to them?

Second, keep it short. People aren’t reading rental ads for fun: they’re seeking confirmation that the property offers what they want. While there’s no optimal length, pay attention to any character limits on your chosen listing platform. 

Third, use evocative language that provokes positive feelings. Words such as “spacious,” “luxurious,” “charming,” “elegant,” and “picturesque” are all great choices. 

Lastly, read it out loud. Does it make sense? Does it accurately reflect your property? Does it make your place sound like it could be an amazing new home? If not, rework it. If so, well done: you’ve got a solid start to your rental listing.

Here’s an example: “Spacious 3-bed/2 bath detached home just minutes from downtown.”

Emphasize the most important property features

I’ve found that the following features matter most to the average renter, and in turn, incentivize them to view your ad:

  • The rent price
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Property type (apartment, townhouse, detached home, etc.)
  • Square footage
  • Property location
  • Key amenities and standout perks (e.g. nearby transit and high ceilings) 

It’s also worth mentioning if you’ve done extensive upgrades to your property. For example, when describing your space, you could say “recently renovated detached home” instead of “detached home.”

Correct your spelling, grammar, and punctuation 

Spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes will make your rental listing look less professional. Always proofread your ad, especially the title, before posting it on a rental listing platform.

Avoid excessive use of exclamation points and all-caps text. It’s a myth that this writing style attracts more views. In fact, these characteristics are often associated with scams, meaning people are more likely to skip your ad. I also don’t recommend using emojis, slang terms, and certain abbreviations (e.g., “thx” instead of “thanks”). You’re presenting a new home to a prospective resident who will hopefully take care of your property—not texting your friend.

If writing isn’t your strong suit, many online tools, such as Grammarly and Google Docs, can help you spot and fix these mistakes. You can also use AI chatbots like ChatGPT. The free versions of these tools are more than enough to help you create an error-free rental listing.

Craft a compelling rental listing description

The rental listing description is where you showcase your property and give renters a better sense of its offerings. Here, you can expand on the features highlighted in your title and add details about your lease terms. 

Be precise when describing each aspect of your property. For example, you can mention the flooring material in each room (hardwood, laminate, etc.) and the type of available appliances. You can also explain what renovations the premises have undergone. Local amenities, such as nearby schools, access to public transportation hubs, shopping districts, and dining options, are worth mentioning, too. 

As with your title, choose persuasive descriptors to paint a welcoming picture. For example, instead of writing “a large kitchen,” you could say, “a spacious kitchen perfect for home-cooked meals.” 

Keep your description brief and to the point. No one wants to read a wall of text when viewing a rental ad. 

The rental listing description is also where you should provide details about your lease requirements, such as:

  • The date the property is available for rent
  • The rent fee and whether it includes utilities
  • The security deposit amount, if required
  • Any additional fees
  • Whether your property accepts pets
  • Whether smoking is allowed in or near the property
  • The lease terms (12-month minimum, month-to-month, etc.)
  • Rental application and credit check requirements
  • Parking accommodation, if any
  • Your contact details

The goal behind a rental property description is to help you generate interest from renters who meet your criteria. Mentioning your stance on pets, lease term expectations, and credit checks will allow you to weed out unsuitable candidates early on, saving you time when screening potential tenants.

Stay within the letter of the law

When writing your rental ad, always consider the tenant screening regulations in your jurisdiction. In particular, you must comply with anti-discriminatory laws, which prohibit landlords from favoring one tenant over another based on certain protected traits. Some examples are religion, place of origin, age, gender, gender identity, physical disability, marital status, and sexual orientation. 

In Canada, anti-discrimination regulations are outlined in the Canadian Human Rights Act and provincial Human Rights Acts. Similar laws exist in the United States under the Fair Housing Act (FHAct) and state and local legislation.

Violating these laws can lead to fines and lawsuits, so become familiar with them. Even seemingly harmless comments, such as noting that your rental is “perfect for a family,” can be construed as discriminatory. So, avoid mentioning or alluding to these characteristics entirely.

To learn more about tenant screening laws, check out these guides for Canada and for the U.S.

Invest in high-quality photography

I always recommend that landlords invest time and money into taking high-quality photos that showcase their rental in the best possible light. The right images will make a solid first impression with renters, so much so that they can’t help but request an in-person viewing.

So, how do you take stellar photos of your rental? Here are some tips:

  • Tidy up before starting. Dirty laundry on the floor and paint peeling off the walls are simply unappealing. Clean the premises to ensure your property looks presentable. When people view these images, they’re subconsciously visualizing themselves living there.
  • Stage the space wisely. Use high-impact decorations, such as plants, pillows, throw blankets, rugs, and artwork, to create a homey and inviting atmosphere. 
  • Capture all the rooms in your unit. Your property’s photos should offer a complete view of your unit, including the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Remember to include the laundry room, balcony, hallways, and closet spaces. 
  • Use proper lighting. Take the photos on a sunny day to make them look bright and pleasant. Ensure each room is well-lit and open the curtains and drapes to let the natural light shine through.
  • Choose wide angles. Take photos from wide angles so that renters get a clear perspective of the space’s dimensions, size, layout, and features. 
  • Use a tripod. A tripod will keep your camera steady, helping you avoid taking blurry photos.

How many photos should you take? That depends on your property type and size. However, anywhere from ten to twenty is a good target.

Taking first-rate photos requires a lot of skill and patience—it’s definitely harder than it looks. If you’re not confident about doing the job, consider hiring a professional photographer.

Where should I list my property for rent online?

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to rental platforms. When evaluating your options, there are several criteria to take into account, including the following:

  • Price. Can you post an ad for free? If not, do you have to purchase a monthly subscription, or can you pay a one-time fee for every ad you wish to list?
  • Images allowed. How many photos can you upload with your ad? In general, the more, the better, especially if you’re renting out a sizable property. 
  • User base. How many people access the platform on average during a month? Is the platform catering to a specific audience (students, families, retirees, etc.)? How likely are you to attract your ideal tenant from the platform?
  • Flexibility. How easy is it to update your rental ad? If you anticipate tweaking your ad regularly, avoid platforms that require you to submit formal requests to make changes.
  • Rental fraud protection. Some platforms are rife with dishonest tenants, including those looking to commit fraud. Research a site’s reputation through online reviews and assess its security measures before posting your ad.
  • Ease of use. Take the site for a test drive to see how intuitive it is and whether it’s prone to glitches.

If you’re new to the rental industry, selecting the right platforms to list your ad can be daunting and time-consuming. We’ve reviewed some of the top online rental platforms to save you time and effort. 

Pro strategies to advertise your rental successfully

Leverage social media

Consider sharing your listing on various social media platforms to maximize your odds of connecting with quality tenants. It’s a convenient way to market your rental to a broader audience and hold conversations with prospective tenants. And it won’t cost you anything to get started.

Social media also offers more flexibility and opportunities to showcase your rental. You can upload as many photos and post as much content as you wish to emphasize your property’s perks. You can also create engaging graphics and short-form videos.

Using strategic hashtags is another way to spread the word. Choose hashtags that are relevant to your property. For example, if you’re looking to rent out your lavish condo downtown, you could use the hashtag #luxurycondo or #downtownluxurycondo.

In addition to free posts, you can use paid advertising to give your rental listing an extra boost. This means it’ll be displayed more prominently across the platform, and as a result, get more views. Many social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, offer paid advertising options.

Optimize your rental listing

Advertising is as much an art as it is a science. That means it’s impossible to know in advance which combination of words and photos will draw in the most renters and generate quality leads.

Continuously tweak your ad after launching it until you get a decent pool of applicants. Put it out there, measure its success, and brainstorm ways to improve it. This step-by-step guide to get a results-driven rental ad will help you improve your listing’s performance.

Our final thoughts

If you’re in the residential rental business, you need to master the art of advertising. It can take a little practice to do it well, so don’t get discouraged if your ad fails to amass views and generate leads immediately. Be patient, monitor your results, and optimize your ad.

If you already have a decent number of rental applicants, the next step is to find out more about them to see if they’re a good fit for your property. Use this list of questions landlords should ask potential tenants to ensure you’re covering all of the bases during your tenant pre-screening process. 

Learn more about Finding Tenants

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