How To Advertise Property For Rent


You have just received that dreaded message from one of your long-term tenants. They love the place, but unfortunately, they have decided to move on at the end of the month. Maybe they are now buying a home of their own, or they are relocating to new location for work. You congratulate and thank them for being a good tenant, schedule a move-out inspection, and then realize that you now have to start the lease-up process all over again. In addition, you will need to determine where and how to advertise property for rent to attract the best tenants for your home or apartment.

Finding a new tenant for your rental can be a painful and exhausting process. This is true whether you are a new landlord or you have done this many times over. Add the pressure of minimizing downtime between tenants when you do not receive any rental income, and many landlords feel overwhelmed.

From experience, we all know filling vacancies with high quality residents is one of the top sources of stress among rental property owners.

First, you inspect the property and have it ready for rent. Then, how do you attract the best potential tenants? How can you let them know it is available to them?

Ways to Advertise Property for Rent

There are a wide variety of options for advertising your property for rent. Some are traditional, while others leverage new advances in technology. In other words, it is a rapidly changing landscape. Therefore, getting your rental listing in front of the right audience determines how easy or difficult it is to find your new tenant.

Newspapers & Classified Ads

In the not-so-ancient history, landlords advertised their rental property in the classified ads of the local newspaper. Due to space constraints and listing fees priced by the number of characters, creating rental property advertisements looked like a jumble of words and characters. Tenants would scour these cryptic messages filled with abbreviations to determine location, price, size, and any features or amenities.

Additionally, the local newspaper was the main resource for matching landlords and tenants. Landlords would field dozens of phone calls, answering the same questions repeatedly before even showing the unit. Having never seen the property before, tenants would often be disappointed when they eventually did see that the rental did not meet their needs, meaning back to the drawing board for both parties.

Apartment for rent Shutterstock_427488781 For Rent Signs

Often used in conjunction with a newspaper advertisement, and still sometimes seen today, is the For Rent sign. This is placed on or in front of the property itself. Because only people nearby see the sign, the landlord reaches just a small group of potential tenants. Additionally, many of the people may not need an apartment to rent at that moment. As a result, this type of advertising works best if the rental property is where many people can see the sign. Additionally, yard signs don’t funnel leads through an online software platform. As a result, it is more difficult to pre-screen, take applications, and receive screening reports.

Rental Listing Sites And Services

Today, landlords and tenants are more likely to advertise property for rent on the internet. There are also numerous rental listing sites where you can advertise rental property. Some of these also let you advertise rental property for free. Similarly, property management software offers listing services through their platforms to their own as well as partner websites. These products also offer other property management and rent collection tools. Above all, these help streamline management – from advertising and tenant screening all the way through lease signing and rent collection.

The most common listing sites and services include:

  • Craigslist: One of the most used classified ad websites, Craigslist includes a section for posting ads for apartments and housing for rent. Craigslist is widely used by both landlords and tenants alike. Unfortunately, there have been reports of rental scams on Craigslist, so proceed with caution.
  • Network: The network of listing sites claims to be the platform most visited by renters each month with over 70 million combined visitors. Cozy, a popular free site for independent landlords, is owned by the same company, and the sites have merged under the banner. 
  • Network: Includes and Monthly traffic is growing, and they recently acquired Avail.  The partnership will combine’s market presence and traffic with Avail’s full-featured rental management software. Avail syndicates rental listings on ten different websites in addition to and 
  • Zumper Network: The Zumper network includes Zumper and Padmapper and boasts approximately 15 million visitors per month. Advertisements on this network also list on Facebook Marketplace which could generate a lot of interest to your property.
  • Zillow Network: The Zillow network consists of Zillow, Trulia, and Hotpads. All are highly visible, popular sites for tenants to look for rental property. Until recently, landlords could advertise property for rent here for free, but now only the first listing is free. 

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We will discuss rental listing platforms in more detail and evaluate which is the best rental listing site.

In addition to these platforms, most property management software products provide landlords the ability to create listing ads. While each is different, they also syndicate your listings to various sites in the,, Zumper, and Zillow networks.

Social Media: Advertise Rental Property For Free

Social media channels, such as Facebook and Instagram, are popular options to advertise property for rent. Therefore, take advantage of your social networks and post your listings where they can be shared and spread to a wider audience. You can also join relevant landlord and tenant groups and reach thousands of potential tenants there. Furthermore, if you can find a group specific to your rental property’s location, you might have access to a hyper-targeted audience to get your listing in front of. 

How To Advertise Rental Property

Once you have determined where you will advertise property for rent, it is time to craft your listing to attract the best tenants for your rental. Here we discuss the steps to create the best rental listing ad.

Market Research

Before writing your rental property ad, first determine what type of tenant might be interested in your space for rent.


  • Is the rental property near a business park or employment center?
  • Is your rental close to downtown or a central business district?
  • Can your tenants easily walk to shops, restaurants, and entertainment?
  • Is the rental property located near a college or university?
  • Is the rental property close to schools or parks?


Next, think about the amenities your rental property has to offer.

  • Does your rental have shared or common spaces?
  • Does the building have a fitness center or gym?
  • Is there ample parking available?
  • Does your rental have laundry, either in the unit or a shared facility?
  • Does your property have a children’s play area?
  • Do you allow pets in your rental?

The answers to these questions will help you understand who your potential renters are. You can advertise your rental property to attract them. As a result, the most successful rental advertisements match tenants to the apartments that are best suited to their needs.

Next, look at Craigslist to see how other rentals in your area are currently priced. You can also go to Avail to compare your rent with other local properties using their rent estimate tool.

It is also important to familiarize yourself with your local landlord laws and the Fair Housing Act. Housing discrimination is illegal in nearly all housing, including private housing, public housing, and housing that receives federal funding.

Optimize Listing Content

Once you are ready to write your rental property advertisement, you need to make your listing stand out from the rest of the crowd. Be descriptive and highlight the amenities that will attract the pool of potential applicants you have identified. Also use language that engages your audience and allows them to imagine themselves living in their new home. Of course, be realistic. You do not want to waste time showing your rental to applicants who will not be interested once they see your place.  

Include Pre-Screening Criteria

While you would like many potential tenants to see and love your rental listing, not everyone is going to be a good fit. You can reduce the number of unqualified applicants by including some pre-screening criteria in your rental listing. Document your screening criteria and include some of them in your ad. Examples include:

  • No pets allowed
  • No smoking in the unit or on the premises
  • Income to rent ratio of at least “X” times the monthly rent
  • 12-month lease required
  • Credit score of at least “###” and employment verification required
  • First month rent and security deposit required at lease signing

Just make sure the criteria applies equally for everyone. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status
  • Disability

Create Your Rental Criteria Checklist

As a landlord, you already have a lot to take care of. When it comes to screening prospective tenants, be prepared with the right questions so you can seamlessly move through the process of determining if the applicant is qualified. Creating and using a rental criteria checklist will ultimately save you time, money, and frustration. You’ll be glad you undertook the task when you discover how effective it is in finding the right tenants for your rental property.

While your rental criteria checklist will help you select the best applicant, you should prepare your criteria before you even begin to advertise your rental property. This ensures fairness through the entire process, including the pre-screening of applicants in your rental advertisement. Additionally, some jurisdictions (like Seattle) require your rental criteria be included in the listing advertisement.

Reasons to Have A Rental Criteria Checklist

Your rental criteria checklist is a guide to help you streamline the approval process. It can also protect you in the event of a discrimination claim, and it ensures your tenant selection process is fair and consistent across all properties and applicants.

Some landlords will share their rental criteria checklist upfront with prospective tenants. As discussed earlier, this may be required in some places. This allows them to communicate key criteria before meeting and screening prospects who won’t qualify. Generally, if a prospective tenant understands your expectations up front and realizes they cannot meet your minimum criteria, they will focus their search on other places that may be more suitable.

Of course, the goal of any landlord is to find and retain great tenants. But the Fair Housing Act means landlords must exercise caution when screening applicants.

Having a clear guideline helps you choose predictably good tenants while avoiding discrimination in tenant screening and selection. Being clear, detailed, and concise in your tenant screening checklist means every potential tenant is held to the same standards.

No Exceptions

Additionally, the key to having a rental criteria checklist is to apply it to everyone. This means that you should make no exceptions. Specifically, you will use the tenant screening criteria list to determine if a prospective tenant will:

  • Take care of the rental property.
  • Pay their rent regularly and on time.
  • Will follow property rules, processes, and procedures.

The way to do this is to incorporate an in-depth, thoughtful rental criteria checklist that helps you narrow down the number of applicants to only those that are qualified. 

Take Great Photos

Pictures are a great way to show prospective tenants what your rental is like before they schedule a showing. Cameras on most mobile phones these days are so good, there is no excuse for not including quality photos when you advertise property for rent. In addition, open the blinds, pay attention to lighting and composition, and you will be able to snap plenty of representative shots for your audience to have a good idea what your property looks like.

3D and Virtual Tours

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sudden shift from in-person to virtual hit nearly every industry. Residential real estate was no exception. Renters depended on in-person tours to help visualize their life in the home and measure it against other options. Now these same potential tenants expect 3D and virtual tours to replicate, or at least supplement the live tour.

Property owners often invest money into the amenities of their buildings with the expectation that these spaces attract potential tenants. With the rise of virtual showings, the same effort needs to be put into presenting this experience online. Failing to do so chips away at the value of your listings and diminishes the potential renter’s impression of the space. 

The pandemic has accelerated innovation and forced widespread and immediate adoption of new technologies in how you advertise property for rent. It has also opened the door for new and creative ways to reach potential renters. As a landlord or rental owner, you need to ask if you are best positioning yourself for these changes now and in the future. If not, it’s time to make some changes. In conclusion, be proactive and don’t fall behind the curve!

Should You List a Rental on Zillow?

Zillow Rental Manager is a popular real estate platform for property owners to list rentals on Zillow and its partner sites. The properties are often well-presented using photos, 3D videos, descriptions, location, and price. Some landlords consider it the best rental listing site for those reasons, though there are several alternatives to Zillow, each with unique offerings that garner the attention of both landlords and tenants alike.

Zillow receives an average of 34 million monthly views across its three listing platforms: Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads. Zillow Rental Manager previously offered free listing services, but it has recently implemented listing fees for all properties. As a result, landlords and property owners may be asking if they should continue to list a rental on Zillow. They may also be looking for a better alternative to Zillow Rental Manager.

Why You Should List a Rental on Zillow


When you list a rental on Zillow, your property is syndicated to three different sites (Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads). Many renters in the US look to one or more of these top rental listing sites when searching for their new home.

Zillow claims a database of more than 110 million homes in the US, including those for sale, rent, and homes not currently on the market. With over 34 million visitors each month, Zillow’s popularity guarantees excellent exposure to your listings.

Listing Tools

Landlords can list a rental on Zillow relatively quickly and easily. It takes just a few minutes to create a listing. You just add property details, write a great description, upload photos and videos, and publish.

Zillow also offers a free 3D home tour app that is useful in boosting your listings. The app is free to use, and you have the freedom to upload as many listings as you like. You can also capture videos using your iPhone or any other camera, download the video on the app, and the app will create 3D tours. 

Additionally, the site can help you list your rental at the best price with their “Rent Zestimate” tool. Simply enter your property’s address to begin. The tool will look at the property’s physical attributes and amenities, comparable properties in your market, plus any other property facts and public data to come up with a useful starting point for your ideal rental price.

How widely is your vacancy advertised?  “Syndication” refers to how property management software companies post your vacancy ad on rental listing sites. There are many such sites, and each software service selects which ones to partner with.  Most services automatically post your listing on the Zillow network, including HotPads and Trulia, though a paid Zillow Feed Connect account is now required. We have used Craigslist to advertise property for rent for many years. While new, flashier sites are gaining usership, we believe that many prospective tenants still search for rentals on Craigslist.  For this reason, we awarded higher scores to services that integrate with Craigslist.  We also look at whether units are advertised through in-house marketing, where a site gets applicants to sign up on their site in order to search for rentals. A trend we anticipate growing is the use of social media to reach potential tenants.


Professional-looking advertising both helps a vacant unit look attractive and lends credibility to the landlord offering it.  Here we evaluate the how easily each service helps property owners and managers present properties in an appealing way.


We look at costs from the perspective of a property owner or manager who runs a small portfolio of properties. We assume this landlord will be looking for free or very low-cost means to advertise property for rent, and that extensive financial, reporting, and communication tools are a lower priority. Highest scores go to the products that allow landlords to advertise rental property for free.


Reaching and appealing to the maximum number of prospective tenants is the first important step in keeping your properties fully occupied with great residents. There are many ways to advertise property for rent, and we’ve evaluated the best rental listing sites and software products in order to help you solve the problem of how to advertise rental property. We encourage you to examine what your most important needs are for advertising your rental and test out the best rental listing site that is right for you.

Source: Adapted from an article by Landlord Gurus