Nothing is worse for your rental property profits than a vacancy. With each month that passes, your empty rental unit loses more than 8% of its earning potential for the year. Meanwhile, your lenders aren’t going to give you a break on payments just because you don’t have a tenant.
Whether your rental unit is vacant now, or your current renter is on the way out, you need to move quickly to find a new tenant. Let’s take a look at how to quickly find tenants for your rental property.
1. How to attract quality tenants?
Any tenant just won’t do. For the long term health and success of your rental business, you need quality tenants who will pay the rent on time, keep the unit clean and in good condition, and ideally stay beyond the term of their initial lease.
In order to find quality tenants, start by giving some thought to who your ideal tenant is. Things to consider include:
- Your property’s location. Your ideal renter is somebody who will appreciate the physical location of the property. A family with children probably won’t want to rent in a trendy downtown area, while a young professional probably won’t want to live in the suburbs.
- Your property’s characteristics. A condo apartment probably won’t appeal to a family; but it might be a perfect fit for I’ve retired couple.
- The neighborhood’s demographics. While a rental in an affluent part of town might attract students, it may not be the best fit for the neighborhood. Meanwhile, families with children or seniors are unlikely to be happy in an area that’s primarily student housing.
Once you have a clear idea of who your ideal tenant is, take steps to make your rental unit appeal to them – make it into a place they want to live:
- Staging: If your unit is vacant, consider staging it with the appropriate furniture and artwork. For example, attract families by staging the bedrooms with children’s furniture. Attract students with desks and workstations.
- Photography: If you have the opportunity to take photographs for your advertisements, make sure the pictures show your ideal renter the features they want to see. Attract families by showing off the large backyard, or attract a young professional by showing off nearby amenities.
- Advertisements: When advertising the unit, describe why your rental is the right fit for your ideal renter. Is it close to restaurants and entertainment, or is it within walking distance of the college? Does it have large bedrooms, or is it minimalistic?
No matter who your ideal renter is, send the signal that it’s a desirable place to live by ensuring the unit is clean and tidy, and in good repair.
2. Where to find tenants for your rental property?
When the unit is ready, it’s time to advertise. Start with places you’d expect to find rental listings:
- Paid rental listing websites, such as rentals.com and Zillow.com
- Free classified websites like Craigslist
- Multiple Listings Service (MLS)
Next, consider advertising the rental using media that’s more niche, or local:
- Local classified websites
- Facebook marketplace
Other social media like local buy & sell groups on Facebook and Reddit
For more info and ideas, take a look at our deep dive on the best websites to advertise your rental property.
Finally, look for your ideal tenants where you’re likely to find them and don’t limit yourself to online ads. If your ideal tenant is a student, try posting flyers around campus. If you’re trying to attract a family, look for them at the local community center or supermarket. Young professionals might be found at cafes or gyms. And retirees might be found at social clubs and golf courses.
Don’t forget you can deduct your advertising expenses on your taxes. Keep your receipts and track your advertising costs in your rental property bookkeeping software so you can find them easily at tax time.
3. Tips for finding tenants quickly
It’s impossible to squeeze more months into the year to rent out your property. That’s why it’s crucially important for profitability that you never go longer than you have to without a renter – your cash flow and other rental property analytics take a blow every month that goes by without income. Follow these tips for finding tenants quickly and avoiding vacancies:
- Advertise an upcoming vacancy as early as possible. If your outgoing tenant has given notice, don’t wait until they leave to advertise the availability and start showing the unit.
- Ask for referrals. Referrals from friends, family and other tenants are worth their weight in gold and can lead you to a tenant you might not have reached. Even people who view the unit but decide not to submit an application may know someone who might be a good fit for it.
- Price the unit competitively. Look at other rental vacancies that have similar characteristics to determine what the market will bear. Properties that have been listed for a long time are likely priced too high. It’s almost always better to have a tenant paying slightly less than market value than to have a vacancy.
- Offer an incentive. Sometimes offering a rent discount or an allowance for painting and decorating is all it takes to tip the scales in your favor and convince a prospective tenant to move in.
Remember, avoiding vacancies is just one of many ways to improve profitability. We’ve explored this, and other essential tips, in our exclusive guide on how to make more money on your rental property.
Final thoughts on quickly finding tenants for your rental property
Letting your rental property sit vacant is one of the worst things you can do for profitability. To quickly attract quality tenants, consider your ideal renter and target your advertisements to their needs, come up with unconventional ways to find them, and ask around for referrals from your network.
The best tenants come by way of referral. When an applicant is vouched for by someone you know and trust, they’re far more likely to be a good tenant than someone you have no connection to. Be sure to do your due diligence and check other references as well as the usual credit and background checks.
Look for potential tenants on rental listing websites, as well as niche and local media. Also look in places your ideal tenant is likely to be, such as bulletin boards at the local campus, community center or social clubs. And ask your network for referrals.
Pricing your rental unit competitively is one of the best ways to quickly attract applicants. The lower your unit is priced relative to similar availabilities, the more interest it will receive. In most cases, it’s better to rent for a lower price than it is to have a vacancy.