The question on everyone’s lips, the thought in everyone’s mind… Can Landlords really find quality tenants online for free?
Well, actually there are a couple of questions people have. Sorry for the misleading intro.
Other questions include but are not limited to:
- Do landlords need to go through a letting agent?
- Are the tenants acquired from free sites any good?
- What other options should Landlords be considering?
The short answers:
- We’ll get to that later.
In this article, we thought we’d outline some of the best free websites that you can list your properties on, as well as help you think outside the box. Our aim is to help give you a broad oversight of acquiring tenants for free.
5 Top Free Rental Listing Websites
Open Rent – Free trial
Open Rent is currently the UK’s largest online letting agent and for good reason. They have made online listing accessible to – well, everyone. And they’ve made it affordable. When you sign up for their free trial you can push your listing to websites like RightMove and Zoopla (for free).
You won’t need to reach for the plastic until the trial is up. At which point you should have a pretty good idea whether or not you’ll want to carry on using their service.
There are a number of people we’ve talked to who found a tenant within that first 5 days – and more than a handful who claimed it was within 24hours.
After the free 5 days, prices start from £29 for 3 months (which is still damn reasonable if you ask us). If you decide not to carry on with Open Rent they automatically pull your listing from their site and partner sites.
Well worth taking them for a test drive.
If you’re anything like me you’ve bought all sorts of unnecessary items from Gumtree over the years. And just like me you probably wondered what truck these things feel off the back of.
For these reasons we’ve stuck Gumtree up here, but with a cautionary word.
I’ve found apartments through Gumtree in the past so know it works (never personally listed on it though). The website gets millions of unique hits every month and the renting section is pretty popular on it.
Our cautionary word though is that there are a few time-wasters on there and Gumtree is well known for generating leads from scammers. Whilst it is always vital that you thoroughly screen any and all prospective tenants – for Gumtree this is especially true.
Everyone has a Facebook account. It’s almost impossible not to. And Facebook marketplace has been encroaching on the trade market pretty slyly over the last couple of years. Their more recent updates have subtly changed the UX to point users towards the marketplace and make it a more central part of their offering.
They allow you to list properties directly on the site and it’s a pretty seamless experience.
Plus, there is one more thing that may be worth just keeping in the back of your mind, is the introduction of Facebook’s Libra some point mid next year.
One reason we particularly like using Facebook is that it speaks directly to the generation who has fast become the largest ever rental market. Millennials. There are more millennials renting now than any other generation and they spend a lot of time browsing their social media. Getting your property on Facebook’s marketplace then means you will get it in front of them.
Like Gumtree you need to be careful with the quality that you get off Craigslist. However, it’s a huge site with millions of monthly hits, so it’s well worth dabbling if you need to fill your property quickly.
SpareRoom is another big ol’ website. However, there’s a bit of a misconception – possibly because of their name – that they only allow people to list their spare rooms. For that reason, it appears that a lot of the users on the site are in fact looking for a room to rent. They’ve cornered themselves into this niche with their name, but they do actually allow people to list more than just rooms on their website.
All that being said they get some 7 million monthly hits so even if only 20% are interested in whole properties for rent that’s still around 1.4 million potential property views.
A Word on Paid Listing Websites
In true “get what you pay for” style there are a number of paid options like Upad.co.uk which offer great services that just cost a little more.
When it comes to websites like Rightmove, these options open up to you if you go through an established estate agent. They will likely put your property on websites like Rightmove; OnTheMarket; Zoopla; & Prime Location.
With any of these, it’s well worth doing your research and very carefully considering if the fees are worth the services you get.
Going through an agent reduces the hassle and stress of finding tenants and you will likely get good, and fast results. However, the fees can quickly eat into your bottom line. And personally, we prefer to maintain control over the tenant selection process. I’m probably going to be pickier than the letting agent who just wants to get paid.
Your Own Website
Especially when you have a portfolio of properties its a great idea to set yourself up your own website. This becomes the central hub for your online property portfolio. You can feature photos, detailed information and easily connect with your property management team.
You will want your site to be attractive, easy to navigate and informative. Plus make sure it’s mobile-friendly!
You can build a website pretty quickly these days, how much it costs will depend on the service you use.
- Professional build – The most expensive option by far, however, if you have a large property portfolio this could be the best solution.
- The free version of a website builder – i.e. WordPress
- Pay for a website builder – Personally, I like using Squarespace – it has a very easy interface that allows even a novice to build a beautiful, easy to use, clean looking website. However, web builders like WordPress or Wix are also good options.
Additional Costs to Consider:
You will need to get photography of your property for any of your listings. For your website though you may need additional imagery. You can get a great selection of free stock imagery on websites like Unsplash or Pixabay, but you may find you want something specific created that you may need to pay for.
Again, you can probably get away without branding your website unless you have a large portfolio. A good brand is a very valuable commodity and will give your website a focused visual identity. If you do decide you want to hinge your property portfolio of a brand identity, it’s worth getting a professional to do this
Check that your domain is free and purchase it ahead of time somewhere like GoDaddy. These are inexpensive and can be set to renew annually.
You will likely need to pay a website hosting fee. This is essentially a fee for the space that your website data takes up on a server. For many website builder sites, like Squarespace, this is incorporated into the monthly costs.
Our final thoughts on this topic are about the more traditional methods for reaching potential renters. These are generally either free or low cost – you will have to do a bit of research though.
These methods will likely reach a different audience going and receive a different character of the enquirer. That being said a lot of people find these methods to be effective.
3 Alternative Methods:
Your Local Corner Shop
Alright so this sounds like something from the 1920s – and it is. But we’ve all seen those cork boards up in the corner of the local shop, and we’ve taken a moment to satiate our curiosity with a quick peruse of the collection of notices on it. For that very reason, these are often still quite effective places to post adverts for your property.
If you can bear the thought of letting a bunch of rowdy 19-22 year olds into your rental property then you have a stronger stomach than us.
That being said, as often as not, students are pretty good tenants, there are a lot of them – and they need places to sleep. Getting an advert onto the University campus is a pretty sure-fire way to get a load of student enquiry.
One note we would make though is to time when you make the effort with the University terms. Ie. don’t put up your advert after they’ve all gone home for the summer!
Yup. Hot off the press this revolutionary new… wait… sorry, wrong blog.
All jokes aside, this listing idea is thoroughly underrated. Check out how much it might be to get your property listing in the local newspaper, it might just catch the eye of the perfect tenant!
A Final Word
None of these methods or websites will guarantee you find a great tenant – as always it’ll take a little bit of work by you and this leads us to our sign-off and final conclusion.
ALWAYS make sure you put your tenants through a rigorous referencing process to help avoid any problematic tenancies which could end up costing you an arm or a leg (or any other body part for that matter).
I’m sure we’ve missed plenty off this article and we’d love to hear how you find great tenants in the comments section below!