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8 Great Ways to Find Renters on Your Own

in How to Find Tenants

Renters receiving key to rental unit.

For newly minted landlords, the do-it-yourself route can be incredibly appealing. This is especially true when it comes to how to find renters for your property. It will require more time and dedication on your part, but you can find great potential renters without the added cost of hiring a real estate agent or property management company. When you’re just starting out, and you maybe have fewer units to manage, the big initial savings here can make a huge difference.

Remember that the more you promote your available rental units, the wider pool of prospective tenants you’ll have to choose from. That means you’ll want to get the word out in as many ways as possible, using every tool at your disposal. Additionally, you’ll have to take all inquiries, show the property, run the paperwork, and screen potential renters to complete the process. To help you out, we’ve gathered eight great ways to find renters all on your own.

  1. Use “For Rent” Signs


Yes, we mean real life, in-person signs that you put up outdoors. It’s simple, it’s old fashioned, and it’s still effective. Many prospective renters are out there cruising around neighborhoods, looking for places they might like to live next, and they will see your signs if they’re visible. Even if they’ve done online research—and it’s very likely they have—they will want to check out possible neighborhoods in person and this is an opportunity for them to see your signs. Place them on windows, in yards, or on the corners of busy intersections near your property. Note: be aware of any local ordinances to ensure that you aren’t violating any signage laws.

Here’s a word of caution though: “for rent” signs in a yard can announce that the unit is vacant. In some locales this could potentially invite unwanted attention, such as trespassing, destruction of property, or theft. So be mindful of your neighborhood and keep an eye on the property if you are using signs.

  1. Local Print Media


One thing modern landlords may overlook when trying to find renters is the venerable local newspaper and its printed ilk. These outlets can still be a great resource when it comes to trying to connect with people. They may not have the flexibility and instant access of internet-based options, but they are an especially great way to get your rental property into the sight lines of older generations, who may not get online as frequently as younger folks. Plus, there’s nothing more official looking than an ad shown in the local newspaper.

Also, keep in mind that your local papers and community newsletters almost universally have online editions that supplement their print editions with extra space for classified. In many cities, these internet spaces are heavily trafficked by locals and can be a prime spot that many use to find renters for their properties.

  1. Craigslist


Now that we’ve mentioned print media and its online counterpart, it’s time to get to the big kahuna of classifieds: Craigslist. The site is omnipresent in almost every market, with categorized listings designed to get your rental ad in front of exactly the right set of eyeballs. The best part is that, despite its near-universal reach, posting to Craigslist remains absolutely free. It can certainly be hard to pass up this avenue for finding new renters on your own.

However, we must note that Craigslist has garnered a somewhat poor reputation for rental properties because the site does not offer any controls or oversight over who can advertise. This means that disreputable folks are able to harness its vast audience as well as honest, reputable landlords and property owners. Criminals have found ways to use the site to dupe unwitting would-be renters out of their money when it comes to deposits and first month’s rent. So, despite its ubiquity, approach Craigslist with caution and care if you’re going to use it—and understand that the potential for grifters means that your potential tenants may be too wary to find your property there.

  1. Social Media


Most popular social media sites feature groups centered on geographic connections—from neighborhoods, to cities, to counties, and even statewide groups. These are often a fantastic place to advertise real estate and rental listings. As a landlord, you could do well to research and join some popular local groups to list your properties to prospective tenants. The research aspect is important, because occasionally these groups will have strict rules about advertising, so check up before you start posting or you could find yourself banned.

One great thing about Facebook, in particular, is that it now features its own marketplace section. Like Craigslist, the Facebook Marketplace is organized geographically. This means that anything you are considering listing on Craigslist or local classifieds should be listed on the marketplace as well. Cover as many bases as you can when you’re online, because it’s as easy as copy and paste.

  1. Word-of-Mouth


Don’t forget that, outside of your online social networks, a real life social networks still exist! Using your personal social circles to your advantage can be a great way to spread the word about available housing, connecting you with potential renters. The biggest benefit to using your friends, relatives, and neighbors as resources is that you can find some of the most qualified candidates for rental—you know someone who can vouch for them. Of course, not every personal referral is going to turn out perfect, as even well meaning people are fallible, but the likelihood of a bad result is minimized. So keep in mind that you’ll still need to do your full due diligence when it comes to screening tenants.

  1. Rental Website Advertising


Nowadays, landlords have access to a large selection of real estate websites where they can advertise their properties to a focused pool of potential customers. These sites include Apartments.com, Trulia, Zillow, and many more you’re likely already familiar with. With a direct focus on property, real estate, and renting, these sites provide a great opportunity to get your rental units in front of the people who are most likely to be looking for them. They’re built for exactly this type of marketing and come with easy templates for getting your property listed. Many of these sites offer free or cheap advertising, too.

One distinct advantage of these sites is that they are all, at this point, optimized for mobile phone browsing—and most of them provide apps for even more streamlined shopping. This means that potential renters can have easy access to your listing through the devices they already own and likely have in their hands.

  1. Build Your Own Website


It might seem daunting at first, especially if you’re not the most tech-savvy person, but building a website to showcase your rental properties is one of the best ways to attract qualified tenants. More than a listing on Craigslist, social media, or a rental website, a well-crafted website will broadcast that you are a professional with a well-run business to back up your available properties. Even when you’re advertising on the aforementioned sites, it’s great to provide a link back to your own website to create a foundation of information about your properties.

Anyone can build a quick and easy website using free templates on WordPress, Squarespace, and other popular platforms—no special skills necessary. But even if you have a modest budget allowance, you can always pay someone, locally or remote, to build one for you.

  1. Property Management Software


Purchasing a solid property management software solution can be a tidy way to fold many of the above options into a single step, where you can craft your rental advertisement and then push it to various places on the web. These software solutions provide you with the tools to present and market your property, and then connect with potential renters, with less of the virtual legwork some of the aforementioned ideas require.

Some of the most highly recommended pieces of software include Buildium, Appfolio, TenantCloud, and Rentroom. Many of these make listing your property around the web a breeze by allowing you to create one advertisement and then push it to multiple spaces, including Zillow, Trulia, and all the other popular rental websites. However, the greatest advantage to using decent property management software is that it will allow you to manage other crucial landlord duties all in one place. From streamlining day-to-day operations, to keeping track of leases and rental agreements, to organizing your screening, maintenance, and tax functions, the best pieces of property management software will work as an all-encompassing digital toolset to help with your job.

If you’re a landlord going the DIY route to find renters, any of the above ideas can help to get you started. Just keep in mind that you’ll get the best renters with the widest net cast, so try to get the word out in as many places as possible.


Disclosure: This Knowledge Base article is accurate as of the last update. Laws and policies are subject to change. If you have any questions, please call the office. Click here for contact information.