This article was posted on Wednesday, Apr 01, 2015

How to Get More People to See Your Craigslist Ad

If you use Craigslist, be sure to include at the bottom of the body of the listing a string of keywords that people might use in their search. These words could include: 

The name of the local hospital
Names of other large area employers
Names of nearby schools
Train station, bus stop, subway stop names
Name of local park
Names of towns/sections of city within 30 minutes of your rental. 

For my last three rentals, I have gotten tenants who found my ad using search terms like that (yes, I make sure to ask how they found the rental, this helps to refine my marketing). Two of those tenants were hunting for a place during the late fall; one (a nurse) wanted proximity to the hospital, one worked for a large employer in a town 20 minutes away and wanted our school district.

FOLLOW-UP TIP AND WORD OF CAUTION: I don’t use a keyword string. Craigslist’s frowns on keyword strings and users might flag your ad for removal if you use them. Instead, I incorporate that information into the body of the ad. Here’s an example of how I might do it.

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“3 bedroom, 2 bath single family house located less than a mile from Camden Hospital and on the city bus route. City Park is located one mile from the house and children in this neighborhood attend Washington Elementary school, Jefferson middle school, and Lincoln High School. The home’s location is especially convenient for people working at Public Debt, Blue Cross, or working in the downtown area.” 

What is the Best Order of Photos In Online Advertising?

Put the most attractive photo first. If the kitchen is amazing, that should be it. If you have a 1950s house with metal awnings, never use the outside photo first. The first photo is key, because if it doesn’t grab them, they will never see the others.

Screening Tenants – The Importance of Middle Names and Initials

When screening applicants through online court records, it is often difficult to find the person you are searching for due to many people with the same or a similar name. When accepting applications, require middle names or initials. If it later becomes necessary to evict or obtain a judgment, be sure to include the middle names or initials on all paperwork related to the case. Doing so will make it easier to track your case as well as to locate records of applicants whose names and initials were entered by previous landlords. And, of course, it will help other landlords screen applicants whom you may have evicted.  

Should You “Hold” a Vacancy For a Good Applicant?

This question is asked in many different ways and often on our popular Q&A Forum. Most recently it was asked this way: “I have someone who wants to rent my place but doesn’t want to move in until November. 1st. I don’t want to leave it empty the rest of the month. What would you do?” The following is how one successful landlord responded. 

Approve his application but don’t sign a lease. Tell him as soon as he starts paying rent, the place is his, but until he does you will keep advertising and showing. If someone beats him to the table and is ready to go, money in hand, and get’s approved….you snooze, you lose.

I will hold a place open for no more than 14 days with a payment equal to the security deposit. It’s called a holding FEE (not a deposit…deposits are refundable…FEES aren’t…don’t try to call it a non-refundable deposit…no such thing exists). We sign a paper that says if they back out for any reason, I keep the fee. ANY reason. I don’t care if you get into a car wreck and lose your job due to becoming a double amputee. I keep the fee because they paid me to hold the unit vacant rather than collect rent from someone else. Value was exchanged: they are literally buying time. If they sign the lease and pay all money due to move in within the 14 days, I will credit the holding fee to their security deposit.

This holding period is only an option for highly qualified applicants or on a place where I still have a little work to do and having some extra time is helpful to me. Average or marginal applicants pay up now or I move on.  [See AOA’s form #100B – Deposit Receipt and Offer to Rent or Lease.] 

Train Your Children to Keep Their Cool and Follow Procedures

Landlords must not only keep their cool in volatile situations but it’s vital to also train your children as well.

An eviction turned deadly when a landlord’s son shoots a tenant’s father. According to newspaper reports, a 16-year-old is being held without bond on a charge that he killed a man during an argument over an eviction. The landlord’s 16-year-old son was arguing Saturday evening with the father of the tenant about to be evicted.

Witnesses told deputies the argument between the teenager, whose name was not released, and 56 year old tenant, became increasingly volatile until the teenager went inside his house and returned with a shotgun. Witnesses said the teenager fired a “warning shot” into the air and then aimed directly for the tenant’s chest. Earlier Saturday, deputies were sent to the property when the tenant, who was being evicted and was moving stuff out of his apartment, called to report things had been taken from his apartment. The official eviction process had not started because all the paperwork was not ready. 

The Value of Periodic Inspections

Let all new residents know that “a property inspection will be done twice a year”. Knowing there will be inspections can reduce the chances that residents may try something outrageous. And then make sure you follow through with your inspections to prevent potential nightmares like one recently reported in the news where a tenant had turned a rental home into a major marijuana grow house.


The following is a sample checklist that one landlord uses when doing a periodic inspection. 


Check CO and smoke detectors
Install water detector with battery
Replace furnace filters
Check HWH temperature setting on dial
Check faucets, washer connections, and drains for leaks
Feel hot water at faucets, tub spigot
Replace washer drain filter, put new one on pipe
Check dryer vents for lint
Check gas lines for leaks: gas detector
Check for broken windows: outside and in basement
Check attic for water leak: ladder
Check that all doors and windows lock correctly

[Check out AOA’s convenient form #139 – Unit Inspection Report at!]

The above tips are shared by regular contributors to the popular Q&A forum, by real estate authors and by Jeffrey Taylor, [email protected].  To receive a free sample of the Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their informative Q&A Forum at, where you can ask landlording questions and seek the advice of other rental owners 24 hours a day.