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Scott McGillivray on How to Market Your Rental to Attract a Dream Tenant

Scott McGillivray on How to Market Your Rental to Attract a Dream Tenant

Scott McGillivray is a real estate expert and host of HGTV Canada’s Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays.



When it comes to finding tenants you need to be proactive. Don’t rely on luck. Put yourself in the driver’s seat when searching for tenants. Never discount the fact that there are good people out there looking for good places – it’s just up to you to find them.


The Space

I firmly believe that the better the condition your place is in, the easier it will be to rent, and the better the calibre of tenant you will find. With a high-quality property, tenants will be willing to pay more, stay longer and will be less likely to miss a payment. So make sure everything is clean, updated and of good quality.  Every place is a little bit different, but ideally you want the following:

  • Updated kitchen
  • Updated bathroom
  • Hardwood floors (above grade)
  • Quality windows
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Fresh paint

Where to Advertise

The process of advertising an apartment for rent has changed a lot in the last 10 or 20 years. These days the best way to advertise a property is on an Internet rental site. Unlike print ads (which are going the way of the Dodo Bird) and traditional bulletin boards, online rental sites allow you to post plenty of pictures – and that’s the number one thing that will help get your place rented.

Sites like Craigslist and Kijiji are certainly options, but I’ve always found that targeted rental sites are the most effective. Most cities have local rental search engines, and that’s where you want to be.



Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is always a great way to reach people, so don’t hesitate to tell family, friends and colleagues about your property. Put it out on social media and ask others to do so as well. However I always recommend being cautious about renting to family, friends and colleagues. Your rental property, whether it’s an income suite or dedicated rental, is a business, and mixing business with personal can sometimes be tricky.


How to Advertise

When it comes to advertising your property you want to make it sound as appealing as possible, but you also want to be honest. Make sure to include the following:

  • Availability date
  • Rent
  • Location
  • Size
  • Appliances
  • Parking
  • Laundry
  • Amenities
  • Neighbourhood
  • Proximity to public transit


Don’t be afraid to show off a little. If there’s a lot of natural light, say so. If the unit has high ceilings, say so. If there are special extras like Quartz counters or frameless glass shower doors, say so. And please, when taking pictures for the ad consider hiring a professional, or at the very least using a good camera. Dark photos of messy rooms will not appeal to the kinds of tenants you want.

Check the Competition

Before you write an ad make sure you’ve checked out the local competition. Find out what other similar units are going for, check out what they’re offering and have a look at how they’re writing their ads. How do other rentals describe the neighbourhood? What features are they calling out? Take note of what ads stand out to you and try to emulate them as best you can.


Schedule Showings

I always recommend including a date for showings in the ad. I find it works best to set aside a few hours (2-5pm for example) for all the appointments so that you can control your schedule. (As opposed to running back and forth as people call and ask to view the unit.) That said, make it clear that people should book an appointment. Otherwise you get an “open house” style free-for-all. Booking showings for 10 or 15 minutes apart means you can take the time to meet people and give a quick tour, but also, potential renters will see others coming and going and it will create a sense of urgency and a bit of buzz about the property.

Images courtesy of Getty Images


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