How To Advertise Units
What are the best practices for advertising rental units?
There are five key components to effective advertising:
- Describe unit features/benefits.
- Set rental criteria. (Please see more information about Fair Chance Housing Ordinances.)
- Avoid discriminatory language.
- Determine market rate rent.
- Select listing methods (online platforms and other channels).
Include all features and benefits, including high-quality photos, that put the unit in the best possible light. This will attract the largest pool of applicants.
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Square footage.
- Ground floor, 2nd story, high rise.
- Outdoor space: Yard, balcony, deck.
- Parking: Street or off street, covered, secure.
- Laundry: Onsite, in-unit or near by.
- Storage: Interior and/or exterior, bike.
- Electric vehicle charging stations.
- Water and/or energy efficiency and other environmentally-friendly features.
- Walkability: Proximity to public transportation, schools, shopping/restaurants, theaters, parks, etc.
- Other desirable features: Wooden floors, gas stove, natural light, views, new paint, new appliances/fixtures, event space, gym, etc.
Standards that appear in your listing that every applicant must meet in order to be considered.
- Minimum credit score of 700 (recommended).
- No eviction history.
- Proof of legal and verifiable source of income that meets requirements, typically 3 times the rent.
- Positive references from last 3 rental property owners/managers.
- Government-issued ID.
Sample Advertisement with Recommended Rental Criteria
- Fair Housing is a complex, ever-changing topic. Use caution when advertising rental units or creating rental criteria. Please see more information about Fair Chance Housing Ordinances.
- If discriminatory language or criteria is found in a listing, a discrimination suit or Fair Housing complaint may be filed against the rental owner.
- Avoid language referencing ancestry, race, genetic information, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, handicap, familial status.
- All units in California (except senior housing) must be made available to families with children. “Steering” (putting families with children in certain units) is discriminatory and should be avoided, i.e., leasing only units on bottom floors to families.
Avoid this language in your listing:
- "No children or families allowed."
- "Perfect for young professionals or quiet, older couple."
- "Not wheelchair accessible."
- "No emotional support animals."
- Owners/managers cannot inquire or require information (written or orally) regarding immigration status of a rental applicant, resident or occupant (Civil Code 1940.3) in the rental listing or during the application process.
- However, this does not prohibit the owner from asking for government-issued photo identification.
Do not advertise your neighborhood as "safe" or "secure," as that could result in a lawsuit if there is a problem. However, you may advertise an alarm system as a feature.
Determining Market Rate Rent
- State law currently allows owners to set market rent after a resident vacates or if a unit is empty (CA Civil Code 1954.53).
- Factors to consider: neighborhood, unit size, parking, amenities, access to public transit and shops/restaurants, laundry service, etc.
- Look at similar listings on platforms like Craigslist, Zillow, Rent-o-Meter, NextDoor, etc. to compare rents.
- Consider attending open houses to see how other units compare.
- Look beyond Craigslist, as it is no longer the standard method of listing units. See listing platforms like Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Zumper, etc.
- For bigger units consider paid websites like Apartments.com.
- Listings on message boards, online networks, newsletters, bulletin boards, flyers or word-of-mouth offer additional exposure.