Can landlords REEEEEEALLY find tenants “effectively” on the free tenant-marketing services & websites available? Operative word being “effectively”
In a word: yup!
The thing is, it’s already dirt cheap for landlords to find tenants thanks to online letting agents (approx £50). For all intents and purposes, that’s a bargain. So how much cheaper do you want to go?
The reality is, no matter how cheap, there’s still always an unsavoury itch that pushes us to find a better deal. I don’t know if it’s just a Brit thing – that inherently makes us cheap bastards – but the one thing we crave more than a bargain is bettering a bargain.
There’ll be no judgement from me, because I like a bargain as much as the next guy who looks for loose change in-between the sofa seats in Star Bucks.
Now, generally speaking, I’m a firm believer in ‘getting what you pay for’, so I realise that ‘free’ rarely equates to great value, but instead, flimsy tut that falls apart a mile down the road after leaving the showroom. So, I try to stay clear of endorsing “free” or “cheap” crap when it doesn’t make sense (i.e. when you’re likely to end-up paying through the ass in the long-run). That’s why I often share premium tenant-find services like Upad.co.uk, who aren’t necessarily the cheapest, but definitely provide the service and value you’d expect, plus more.
But there are exceptions, and incredibly, there are plenty of FREE landlord services out there that aren’t totally useless. I know from experience they work; they can generate enquiries from quality tenants very quickly… in return for ZERO financial investment!
Yes, it’s entirely possible [and easy] to efficiently find tenants for free…
Free websites to find new tenants for your BTL Property
You’ve probably heard of the websites below, but maybe you’ve never utilised them before. So perhaps they’re worth bearing in mind next time you’re on the prowl…
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Advertise on Rightmove & Zoopla for Free
OpenRent have been causing havoc in the online lettings world for quite some time now, and for all the right reasons- their marvellous 5 day free trial, which remarkably includes advertising your property on Rightmove, Zoopla & Prime Location. Yup, for free! And that probably explains why they’re currently the UK’s largest online letting agent, with almost 3,000 properties up for let [at the time of writing this blog post].
I know, I know! Free “trials” always sound sketchy, because there’s a looming fear of the legal small-print keeping us locked in and screwing us over. But there really isn’t a catch; no hidden fees and no credit card details required to get going. If you wish to continue advertising after 5 days you will be subject to a fee (at which point you’ll need to reach for your credit card), starting from £29 for 3 months (still totally reasonable). Otherwise, your advert will be automatically pulled from the portals.
“5 days?!? is that really enough to have any impact, it takes me longer to clear my bowels?”
I managed it (to find suitable applicants with in 5 days, that is), and unsurprisingly, too, because i know how potent advertising on Rightmove & Zoopla can be! But even if you don’t, at least you’ll get a taste of the service they provide, at which point you can determine whether you want to continue.
If you haven’t given them a spin yet, I can only recommend that you do. I’ve used them a few times, and I know thousands of you also have.
For more details, read my OpenRent review, along with a bunch of feedback from other real landlords who have used their service.
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Advertise on TheHouseShop.com for Free
The easiest way to describe TheHouseShop is by comparing them to the likes of Rightmove & Zoopla i.e. they all list properties for sale and let on their websites.
Of course, TheHouseShop is no way near as popular as Rightmove or Zoopla, but they are growing exceptionally fast, and they are more than capable of generating leads (which many satisfied landlords can attest to).
Listing your property on TheHouseShop is 100% FREE, and unlike their rivals (Rightmove & Zoopla), who strictly deal directly with estate agents only (i.e. you have to go through an agent to get listed on Rightmove), TheHouseShop have their doors open for private landlords to advertise on their website directly.
Disclaimer: While I 100% recommend listing your property on TheHouseShop (because you have nothing to lose), I personally wouldn’t rely on them as a standalone means of generating leads from prospective tenants – they probably don’t have enough fire-power just yet – so I recommend using an online letting agent to get listed on Rightmove (just like OpenRent) and then listing on TheHouseShop! Just my humble opinion.
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Advertise on Gumtree for Free
You’ve heard of ’em. You probably bought your towels and mattress from there, just like I did.
Gumtree is the most popular classified website in the UK, attracting tens of millions of unique visitors every month, many of which are on the prowl for a rentable home.
I’ve had huge success with Gumtree in the past – and so have many other landlords – so I know it works! While it’s completely free to list on Gumtree for private landlords, they do offer a bunch of chargeable upgrades to make your ad stand out more. I’ve never personally made the upgrades and I did just fine.
My only word of warning the murky waters are infested with sharks! Gumtree is notorious for generating leads from scammers and tenants on benefits (I’m not saying the latter is necessarily a bad thing, so please don’t bust my chops)- and while it’s ALWAYS imperative to conduct thorough tenant referencing– it’s especially important when processing Gumtree applicants! You’ve been warned.
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Advertise on Facebook Marketplace for Free
Unsurprisingly, Facebook Marketplace has become massively popular among Facebook users (which is pretty much everyone on the planet with an internet connection).
Facebook Marketplace is very similar to Gumtree, it’s an online marketplace where [Facebook] users can advertise items for sale.
Since its launch, Facebook has been slowly opening up the types of items you can shift on their platform, from clothing to toys. In late 2018 they opened it up to the UK rental market, allowing landlords to advertise their vacant properties to the Facebook community.
Again, similar to Gumtree, while Facebook can generate a TONNE of enquiries, the quality of leads can often be questionable, so it’s important to ensure you rigorously vet all prospective applicants, and be wary of scams.
I’ve written a guide for Landlords advertising on Facebook Marketplace which I highly recommend reading if you’re interested in using the platform to generate tenant enquiries.
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Advertise on SpareRoom for Free
SpareRoom is another huge website.
There’s a common misconception about Spareroom – one that is completely understandable given their name – which is that they only advertise spare “rooms” They actually allow landlords to market so much more. Yup, entire properties.
That said, SpareRoom will probably best serve landlords with individual rooms to let (because that’s what most people are looking for on there), but it’s still worth listing entire properties for let simply because of how much traffic they receive. Even if only 10% of their traffic is looking for an entire property, that’s still a whole heap of people.
Anyone had any luck/experiences with any of the above? I’d be interested to hear your feedback!
Right, so can anyone recommend any others? I’m all ears!
For the sake of sparing my ass from prosecution, I do want to make it clear that by no means am I implying that these services will guarantee a successful campaign.
Actually, I would never imply any service – free or otherwise – is guaranteed. I’m simply saying these websites are free, and they could easily find you tenants without having to spend a nugget. But for the sake of spending 5mins on each site to setup an advert, I don’t think there’s any harm in it, even if nothing comes from it.
Should you advertise on all the free websites listed?
It’s really up to you! If you want to stand the best possible chance of finding tenants as quickly as possible without dropping a dime, then logic dictates that you should list on all of them to maximise your exposure.
However, I do understand that listing on all may seem like a lot of admin/hassle (i.e a general pain in the ass). So if you want to be selective, I’d definitely recommend using OpenRent … coupled with…errr… probably Gumtree. Or maybe TheHouseShop. Oh, Lord help me, it’s a toss-up.
If you’re a live-in landlord looking for a tenant (technically a ‘lodger’ then, most likely) or looking to let a room-only, then I’d highly recommend shoving SpareRoom.com somewhere in your marketing arsenal.
Earlier on I said it’s particularly important to reference Gumtree applicants due to their reputation, but really, I can’t stress enough how important it is to conduct thorough referencing no matter how or where you source your leads from.
You should ALWAYS thoroughly reference every tenant applicant, but that’s especially important when you’re going it alone, without a letting agent. So please, before accepting any applicant, please read through the tenant referencing guide.
Other methods of finding tenants for free
While I believe listing vacancies on tenant-finding websites (like the one’s listed above) is the most effective means of finding a tenant in this digital age, and generally the only method you ought to need, there are a couple of other techniques that you may want to also try in conjunction:
- Social Media / Facebook – This has actually worked for me a couple of times in the past.
All I did was take 2 minutes to compose and share a Facebook post to my friends, which mentioned I had a property available for rent in the local area (I also mentioned a few of the specifics).
Both times I managed to generate enquiries – there’s usually always a friend of a friend that’s in the market. Facebook is usually very effective if your BTL is located in your local area, because friends and family are usually in the same area.
Of course, this is not advised for those that are unwilling to let to friends, which is totally understandable for the obvious reasons.
- Local shop advert boards – Oh, hello 1928.
I know, I know! Why don’t I just strap a note to a pigeon?
But surprisingly, adverts on local shops still work, especially in small villages and towns.
There’s actually a pretty active board at my local cornershop which has a random bunch of all sorts advertised. It’s worth a try.
When or why should you try any of the above methods? There’s actually no reason why you shouldn’t use them from the start, the only reason I typically don’t is because I tend to find tenants without having to.
However, if you’re trying to find tenants in a particularly small area (i.e. a remote village where everyone is everyone’s cousin) or on the flip-side, where competition is particularly fierce, you may find great benefit in using ALL the methods at your disposal – which includes all of the above.
Don’t forget… to only remove your advert/stop marketing once you have secured a tenant!
Unless you want to get swamped with enquiries even after you’ve found a new tenant, don’t forget to remove your advert from all the marketing services you’ve used.
However, more crucially, don’t remove your adverts until you have secured a tenant, which means the tenant has 1) paid a deposit & first months rent 2) signed a tenancy agreement 3) passed the referencing 4) moved into the premises.
Many landlords make the fatal mistake of removing all their adverts as soon as a successful applicant confirms they want the property. That can be a costly mistake, because many deals fall through!
On a final note, if you have any other suggestions on awesome resources for finding tenants for free, please let me know – I may whack it into the list. But please, don’t spam me with your personal junk projects to gain exposure :)
And, if you happen to use any of the services listed above off the back of this blog post, please let me know how you get on.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.