What information should be included in a rental listing?

The purpose of a listing is to advertise your vacancy in such a way as to attract the attention of a prospective renter and encourage him to call the listed contact for more information and a showing of the unit. Your listing should be descriptive and informative while providing the must-have details of your rental unit which will allow a potential tenant to determine whether the unit meets his (the potential tenant) rental wants and needs criteria. By including additional details of unit features and shared amenities, the potential tenant can compare his would-like-to-have wish list to the provided features and services.

By including relevant information for the property itself and details of the application process, deposits and fees, a potential applicant can self-evaluate his qualifications to the landlord’s rental criteria for tenancy.

While a basic classified ad will seldom contain much of the following information, other types of advertising, particularly websites, can provide many of the following items:

Potential renters and renters looking to move to a new unit are scanning rental ads for as much information as can be found regarding the following items:

  • Location of the rental unit – property address, zip code, neighborhood designation, or rental community name
  • Type of rental housing – single family, duplex, apartment building, or condo unit
  • Size of unit – number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, total square footage, floor plan
  • Rent – stated amount of monthly rent
  • Availability of the unit – move-in date ready
  • Lease agreement – term of lease or month-to-month agreement
  • Security deposit amount – accounting and return of funds
  • Fees and other deposits – application fee, pet deposit, etc.
  • First/Last Month Rents – amount that will be due at lease signing
  • Utilities – Landlord responsibility or Tenant responsibility
  • Pets – allowed, not allowed, type, breed, rules, restrictions, fees and deposits
  • Smoking/No smoking policy
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program – Section 8 accepted
  • Rules and regulations – noise/disturbance violations, guest stay, etc.
  • Parking – assigned parking spaces, garage, or street only

The above listed items are the must-have details that potential tenants search for in listings. Providing these basic details allows for renter confirmation of interest and consideration of the rental unit.

The items listed below are examples of must-haves for some tenants and certainly could appear on many tenants’ wish lists for would-like-to-have features.

  • Features – upgrades such as hardwood floors, granite countertops, tile backsplash, upgraded kitchen appliances, large windows, walk-in closets, pantry, in unit washer/dryer, internet service, cable TV, individual unit patio or balcony, fenced yard, key card security access, etc.
  • Amenities – pool, fitness center, walking trails barbecue area, tennis courts, etc.

A potential tenant may consider property management and online services important in his decision making process. Providing information of what types of tenant screening will be done is also important in a decision to apply for tenancy.

  • Management – onsite resident manager, property management company, landlord
  • Tenant portal – online services for rent payment, repair/maintenance requests, customer service
  • Credit/Background checks required
  • Employment verification required
  • Landlord references required

Your listing information should provide a variety of contact methods to encourage would-be renters to respond to your listing and schedule a showing.

  • Contact information – name, telephone number, email address, website address

It is important that you respond to calls in a timely manner. When potential renters scan your listing their immediate attention is on your property. Take advantage of a call, text, or email from a potential renter wanting more information to help move the caller forward to a decision for application. Rather than considering calls asking for the same information as provided in the listing as a nuisance, think of the calls as confirmation of interest for your unit and an opportunity to fill a vacancy.

As a reminder, a landlord must be knowledgeable and compliant with applicable Fair Housing laws. Of particular importance to landlords in their advertising is being sure that they comply with federal Fair Housing requirement Section 804(c).

Section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act specifically makes it unlawful to make, print, or publish, (or cause to be made, printed, or published), any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling, that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

The rule is that a rental listing should always describe the property, not the tenant who will live at the property.

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