How to Write a (Great) Rental Listing Ad

Updated Nov 29, 2020

A great rental listing will help you get potential renters to check out your unit. 

It can also lay the foundation for a positive relationship with your tenant. That’s because a rental ad isn’t just advertising your property; it’s promoting your services as well. 

Follow these tips for a winning rental listing ad. 

1. Aim For Transparency

By providing an accurate description of your property, you save yourself and your potential tenants time. So, describe things exactly as they are; the number of rooms, the square footage, the amenities, etc. And get granular: flooring, countertops, appliances, and everything else. 

Avoid superlatives like “phenomenal” or “amazing.” Your text and photos should speak for themselves. Instead, explain what makes your property an excellent place to live: 

  • Is it close to public transportation? 
  • Is there ample parking? 
  • Does it have an open floor plan? 
  • What’s the neighborhood like? 

Terms that communicate utility are far more helpful, like “spacious” or “conveniently located.”

Writing rental listings for your investment property

2. Make the Case

Your heading is where you should put your best foot forward, so put those qualities front and center. But don’t do so at the expense of being informative. Instead, follow this format: 

  • Monthly rent
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Type of unit
  • Stand out features (this can be the neighborhood, something about the unit, etc.)

For example, $2,000 Per Month 2 BDRM 1 Bath Renovated Loft in Historic Downtown. 

3. Be Professional

Typos and poor grammar will stop your reader dead in their tracks and make them ask, “If they couldn't be bothered to run a spell check, how can they be trusted to run a property?” So, make sure everything is just right before you publish it. Read it over out loud to make sure it sounds right too.

Use high-quality images. Make sure the rooms are clean and well lit. If there’s a time of day when the light is best, that should be when you take your photos. Make sure your reflection and shadow aren’t visible. And when your potential tenants arrive, make sure the place looks nice.

An ad is also about quality over quantity, so mind the word count. 

Finally, consider adding a video tour of the space to entice visitors further. 

4. Don’t Omit the Truth

Lying by omission is still lying, so be upfront about everything. Let your potential tenant know exactly what the rent is, the fees and deposits, and roughly how much they should expect to pay in utilities. 

Make clear any problems that you can’t repair so that your tenant’s expectations are appropriately calibrated. A disappointment the moment they step through the door will color their entire experience of the property and yourself. Ensure you know what your state and local laws are about disclosures so that you also know what you’re legally obligated to share. 

Finally, highlight your policies on pets, smoking, and subletting. 

Writing your rental listing to increase prospective residents

5. Mind the Body

Every part of your ad is important. The body should contain the following information: 

1. Rent, Utilities, Fees, & Deposits

2. Bed and Bath Numbers and Details 

3. Square Footage and Floor Plan

4. In-Unit Amenities 

  • Dishwasher
  • Washer + Dryer
  • Garbage Disposal

5. Storage and Parking

6. Neighborhood and Location 

  • Amenities
  • Popular Destinations
  • Public Transportation

7. Group Amenities 

  • Pools
  • Patios
  • Roof Access
  • Backyard 
  • Play Areas
  • Fitness Centers

8. Management Information 

  • Onsite Superintendent
  • Online Payment

9. Security Features

  • Keyless Entry
  • Security Systems
  • Door Person
  • Privacy Fence

10. Year Built

11. Lease Length

12. Pet Policy

13. Smoking Policy

Using bullet points is a great way to write an ad because it makes it easy to skim and highlights to jump out at the reader. It also makes it easier to copy and paste key information into the body of a text or email. Avoid all caps, exclamation marks, and vague language.

6. Lay the Foundation

Knowing how to build a positive and healthy relationship with your tenants is key to getting your tenants to resign their lease. It starts before you ever even meet your tenants by outlining the screening process, including any fees your potential tenants may have to pay.

The following criteria are indispensable:

  • Creditworthiness
  • Employment and income
  • References
  • Personal
  • Employer
  • Past landlords

7. Follow the Rental Laws

Don’t forget The Fair Housing Act when writing your ad. It’s never acceptable to mention:

  • Familial status
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Color
  • Race
  • National origin 
Follow the law when writing rental property listing ads

What About Pets?

While you can forbid pets, landlords need to know about service and support animals because they cannot be prohibited under the law. A service animal is a working animal rather than a pet. It’s even the legal right of people with disabilities to bring a service animal into their home after signing a lease that stipulates that pets are forbidden. 

In such instances, an eviction is against the law unless overwhelming proof can be provided that the animal is a threat to others. 

What About Smoking?

You should make your smoking policy clear, particularly if you have a tenant with a disability related to difficulty breathing, because it’s your legal responsibility to provide habitable accommodations.

What About Criminal Activity?

Finally, one of the landlord liabilities that may surprise you is criminal activity. A landlord may be liable for failing to protect their tenants from crime adequately, mainly if the landlord knew the crime or similar crimes have previously occurred on or near the property. 

So, while you may want to avoid renting to people who have been convicted of violent or dangerous crimes, make sure everything you do is within the bounds of the law. For example, Oakland’s Fair Chance Housing Ordinance prohibits criminal background checks during the tenant screening process. 

So, consult with local and state laws when writing your ad.

8. Be Responsive

One of the surest ways to help you avoid vacancies is by being a responsive landlord. You can begin with your initial introduction by responding quickly to any emails, texts, calls, or voicemails about your ad. 

Bottom Line on How to Write a Rental Listing

The ad is just the beginning, but it also sets the tone for what follows. 

By writing a professional and honest ad, you’ll be setting the tone for the relationship to come, which will be vital in keeping your tenants for years to come.


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