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Guide to Being a Landlord #1: Creating a Rental Advertisement

This article is an edited extract from
By Michael Drouillard,Self-Counsel Press Feb 2, 2016

Landlording in Canada Kit by Michael Drouillard, published by and reprinted here courtesy of Self-Counsel Press. To download the full e-book or for more information, click here

Creating a rental advertisement is a very important undertaking. Poorly constructed advertisements may get little response, making the job of renting a unit all the more difficult. Your advertisement needs to answer as many questions as possible, without being too long and boring, to let you zero in on people who are looking for what you are offering. If it’s a website listing, make sure you include good quality photos.

You want a prospective tenant to circle – or click on – your advertisement when they see it (or better yet, call you right away), not pass you by to see what the next landlord has to offer. The more prospective tenants who see your advertisement, the better your chances of renting your unit to your ideal tenant.

You will have to convey a lot of information with as few words as possible. So keep in mind the following details when you are creating your advertisement:

  • Price: Some landlords do not list the price of the unit in the advertisement at all, though you are strongly advised to do so. If you do not include the price, prospective tenants will likely go on to read the rest of the “for rent” advertisements, ignoring yours.
  • Type of unit for rent: Most prospective tenants know what size of accommodation they are looking for. If you tell them in your advertisement what size of rental unit you have available, you’ll avoid calls from people looking for a three-bedroom house when you are trying to rent a one-bedroom apartment.
  • Location: Stating in your advertisement where the unit you wish to rent is located will also help you avoid unnecessary telephone calls. You may list the exact address, basic area (e.g., downtown area), or something in between.
  • Available facilities: Examples of facilities you could list include: furnishings (or none – see part two of this series), fridge and stove, four-piece bath, coin-op laundry, parking, view of the lake, fenced yard, on-site superintendent, and so on. If a unit shares a bathroom, kitchen or other room, you should say so in your advertisement.
  • Included/not included in the rent: If you pay for the heat and hot water, but the tenant is responsible for paying the electricity, say so in your advertisement. If the tenant pays for heating, list the type of heating system (e.g., electric, forced air, gas, etc.). List in your advertisement either what is included or what is not included in the rent, or both.
  • Preferences: You may prefer to rent to non-smoking tenants or have a no-pets policy. You may prefer to rent to couples only, families only, or one tenant only. If you have specific preferences, say so in your advertisement. And of course, ensure your chosen rules on smoking, pets and other restrictions adhere to your strata bylaws.
  • Telephone number: The telephone number is by far the most important part of your advertisement. If prospective tenants cannot get in touch with you, you may have increased difficulty renting your unit. List all telephone numbers at which you can be reached while your advertisement is running. If you wish to receive calls only at specific times (e.g., evenings or weekends), say so. Many prospective tenants will not leave messages on answering machines, so try to tell them how and when to get in touch with you. Do whatever it takes to be there to answer all calls.

Fitting all this information into your advertisement is an art. Check local publications and websites for examples of rental listings in your area. If publishing in print, don’t be afraid to be creative with your advertisement: the more eyes that are attracted to your advertisement, the better your chance of successfully renting your unit. Try borders, headlines, or anything else that may attract more attention to your advertisement. Avoid listing the negative aspects of the unit, but never be deceitful. Always be honest when advertising and when answering questions about the unit or building.

Next time: To rent your unit furnished or unfurnished?

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