How to Fill Apartments Quickly

for-rent-148891_1280-PDThe rental market has been very, very good to me…  My properties have performed well over the past month (and years); getting 100% rent collected (25 for 25) by May 2, once again.  One person, who paid on the second, apologized to me for being late.  Try that with low credit score renters, who generally always pay late.  But since I have a vacancy coming up, this is how I fill apartments quickly.

I do have one vacancy coming up for 7/1.  I started advertising my rental just a week or so ago.  I advertised exclusively on this time.  Postlets blasts your ad to several other major websites, and the majority of responses from Trulia and Zillow.

I had several of people that called directly off the ad, but most people just click the link in the ad, and expect a response.  I often let calls go into voicemail, if I am not sure who is calling, so I am not sure of the exact number.  All my renters are set up in my contacts, so they always come up as a known person.

Some people call off the ad, and do not leave a message, so I am not sure exactly how many calls I may have missed.  Some are quick calls asking of I take Section 8, which I do not.  I wish them luck and I move on.

I had 23 emails from people responding to the ads via the email link in the ad.  I typically send the following response to them, so that I can weed out the renters that do not qualify.  There is no sense wasting my time on them.  Remember, most tenants that are looking for an apartment rental are unqualified.  I send this email out as a reply to their email, and wait for a response.

==> “Thank you for inquiring.  The unit will be available ~7/1, It will not be available any earlier.  There are tenants currently in the apartment; the video and pictures were taken just prior to them moving in.

I generally show the unit between 6 PM and 7 PM during the week, and on weekends between 11 AM and 4 PM.  I have tenants in the unit, so I need to give notice.

I do not take Section 8.  If you have had an eviction, or you have had recent criminal activity including DUIs, I generally will pass on you.  If you are not a legal resident of the USA, I will not be able to rent to you.

I will be looking for tenants with a 625+ credit score, and a solid household income of at least ~$46,000 per year.  If you are marginal on both of these items, I will generally decline you.  Your criminal and rental history must be clean.

If you still want to look at the apartment, please let me know.

Additional Pictures

Virtual Tour   <====

Once I get a qualified tenant, I set up a showing and add a calendar invite to my Google calendar.  I invite both the current tenant, and the prospect. I tell the prospect to call me ~30 minutes prior to arriving to confirm.  That way, if I forget, or if they are a non-show, I am not inconvenienced.  Once I get the text, I text my tenant that the showing has confirmed.  It seems there is a 50% no-show rate for tenants.

I showed the property a total of three times.  All tenants that I showed the property to were qualified to live there, or at least they said they were.  With one tenant, I received an application and a $1,000 deposit with the application immediately after the showing.  She came prepared, and had everything in order.  I had her sign a Holding Fee Agreement, which guarantees me $1,000 if she does not move in.  If she moves in, it is applied to the rent and/or deposit.

Another tenant wanted the property, and dropped off another application.  She will be the backup tenant, or perhaps she can get an apartment if I get another vacancy fairly soon.  I process the applications in order, once I accept one; I do not process the other following applications.

Another tenant that looked at the apartment might have been great, but they had other issues.  Here is a tip.  If you are a renter, do not have a 200 lb. English Mastiff.  And don’t have another dog, a boxer.  Most places would not take either dog, both are over 40 lbs.

I like dogs, and this one might have been great, but with so many qualified tenants I do not need a 200 lb. dog in the apartment.  It could scare other tenants that might be afraid of dogs.  In an extreme instance, it may get aggressive with another tenant, their dog, or child.  Or just bump into a person and tip them over.  It would have been an extra $25 per dog, which they were willing to pay, but I passed.

I charge more money in the deposit than one month’s rent.  This apartment is $1050, the deposit is $1250.  If someone doesn’t pay, a month’s rent is not enough.  If they do not have the $1250, I do not want them.  If they don’t trust me with $1250, I don’t trust them with a $100K apartment.

So, that is how you fill apartments nearly two month’s before you have a vacancy, and do it without any down time.  The apartment will need a touch up paint, and carpets cleaned, and that is it.

What is your process to turn an apartment, or if you are a renter, do you like the showing process when a landlord shows your apartment?


13 Replies to “How to Fill Apartments Quickly”

  1. I looove the Holding Fee Agreement! I didn’t know you could do that. I have had people say they want to write me a deposit and take the condo if their spouse approves, but then I would say. if they don’t approve, I might lose out on another potential tenant.

    The Holding Fee Agreement solves that:)

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      It is a great idea that I always use. Why take an application if the tenant is not serious. Why let them continue to shop for a better deal, while you are potentially vacant for another month. Put the risk on the tenant, not yourself.

      Never sign a lease until move in though. The lease obligates the landlord, the holding fee agreement obligates the tenant. In your case, take the money and give them 24 hours to cancel if their spouse doesn’t approve if you want. But better to just get the deposit and hold it until they move in.

  2. Good tips. I’m still a renter so I can’t put them to good use yet. As a renter in NYC, I generally look on craigslist…never heard of Postlet, it sounds useful. Many apartments here also have brokers who find tenants and they often charge one month’s rent!! Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay one as the landlord paid it but many don’t.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      I use Craig’s too, but my postlet’s ads are easy to just re-run. They are already set up. Craig’s generates a lot of calls too, but I have not used them on the last few rentals and it worked out OK. When I really get serious, I use, and pay $109, then I am listed on every website there is.

  3. I ran mine through Zillow and this fed to Craigslist, I might have to try the Postlets. I like the email response with the conditions of what you are expecting, credit score, income, etc, I might read this one again come September.

  4. I love your stories. You kick ass at the landlord game. Keep it coming.

    Quick question/suggestion: Ever tried the Google Voice service? Google will give you a proxy phone number that automatically forwards to your real number. So, you never have any need to give your actual number out. You can set rules to block specific numbers or send them right to voicemail. Ste do not disturb for hours you choose and it will go right to voicemail as well. Seems perfect for a landlord. Best of all, it’s free,

    Anyway, give it a try if you haven’t already:

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      I was going to get Google Voice, but never actually got it set up. I rarely get calls from tenants late, and I can turn down my volume. It is once of the things that I should get set up.

  5. The thing I hated most about being a renter was having my apartment showed. I think we got in a crappy situation, though. We were part of a big apartment complex and the new management that took over halfway through did not get along with us, for whatever reason. I think it was more us not liking them because they were completely incompetent. But anyway they would just leave a piece of paper that said the date/time of a showing, often only about 24 hours in advance. Our apartment was showed probably 12 times. I do not believe it took that many showings to fill it. I believe they showed our apartment because we cleaned it up really nice. I considered telling them that the time wouldn’t work, but I decided to let it go and just finish our time there and then get out. I have no way of proving that our apartment had not been rented, though, so I had no legal way of proving they were using our apartment as a “show” apartment. I’m getting upset just thinking about this again!

    1. I think apartment complexes do that quite a bit. Pick a nice unit, and show that as much as they can.

      I always try to make sure the tenants I am showing the apartment to are qualified. No sense in wasting everyone’s time for someone that will not be able to get approved.

  6. Can you give me more of the details of the logistics on how you turn around the lease? Did you end one lease on 6/30 and start the next one on 7/1? Or do you have a whole 30 days without a tenant so you have time to clean, paint etc.? Thanks

    1. Thank you for reading!

      If a tenant leaves on 6/30, I put a new tenant in on 7/1, 80%+ of the time. A great previous tenant is what it takes. Start showing 6-8 weeks before it is vacant. Take a holding fee. Make sure you have the day off to get in and clean up what the existing tenant did not. Know what needs to be completed, and be ready. Hire out help if needed too.

      Any damages, make sure you deduct out of the damage deposit. You DO NOT have to paint between each tenant. Use semi-gloss paint, and wipe the walls rather than paint. The tenant should actually do that.

      If you have a hoarder, it is not possible. If you have a low-quality tenant, it is not possible. That all goes into the cost of having low-quality tenants.

      My average tenant stays just over 2 years. If they move out after two years, often the place doesn’t need much work.

      1. Thanks for the quick response! Very helpful. I am looking to get started here in the next few months and have found your blog very helpful! Thanks again!

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