Tenant Management, Tenant Screening

Best Free Online Ways To Advertise Property For Rent

advertise property for rent online

Update: This post has been updated with new scoring and winners based on changes or upgrades to some of the products and services. We have also included new products that have come to our attention since the last update. Read on to see our winners for the best free online ways to advertise property for rent 2022:

Any landlord knows that having rentals sit vacant will quickly turn the ink on their balance sheet from black to red.  Reaching and attracting new prospective tenants is the first step in filling vacancies. Online property management software products can dramatically streamline the process of marketing empty units.  As you’ll see in this and other articles we’ve written, we believe strongly that these products improve the ease and profitability of managing rental property.  We take a look at leading software providers, many of whom offer free online ways to advertise property for rent.

Our Winners: Best free online ways to advertise property for rent

These are our winners for the best free online ways to advertise property for rent. Read below for complete criteria and scores:

Avail logo
  • Advertise your property, find and screen tenants, sign leases, collect rent, and e-sign custom local leases, with tools built specifically for DIY landlords.
  • Strength: Complete Solution
Read ReviewSign Up Here
TenantCloud logo
  • End-to-end property management solution. Receive payments online, advertise properties and screen potential tenants. Robust accounting and maintenance features.
  • Strength: Complete Solution
Read ReviewSign Up Here
RentRedi logo
  • RentRedi is an all-inclusive landlord-tenant app. Manage vacancies, screening, and rent collection from wherever you are, on any device.
  • Strength: Complete Solution
Read ReviewSign Up Here

Overall Winner: Best Free Online Way to Advertise Property For Rent

Among free online ways to advertise property for rent, Avail is our Overall Winner.

  • Vacancies are syndicated (posted-on) a broad range of rental listing sites, reaching a huge percentage of people searching for housing online.
  • The user interface is attractive and easy to use, and units advertised on your personalized listings website are presented in a professional, appealing way.
  • A customizable online application is a click away from your vacancy page.
  • Avail is the only service to score on for both of our Extra Credit categories: automated showing time scheduling, and a rental research feature.
  • There are three different screening reports to choose from. Landlords choose whether to pay, or require tenants to do so.
  • Advertise your property, find and screen tenants, sign leases, collect rent, and e-sign custom local leases, with tools built specifically for DIY landlords.
  • Strength: Complete Solution

Winner: Best for Property Managers Or Larger Portfolios

If you’re asking us to recommend a great software product for advertising and managing larger real estate portfolios (25+ units??) we like TenantCloud. The platform offers robust features from vacancy listings through maintenance and financial management. While products such as Avail also support higher unit counts, we believe that the subscription pricing of TenantCloud – though unappealing at first glance – become a good value once you have more than a handful of rentals.

  • End-to-end property management solution. Receive payments online, advertise properties and screen potential tenants. Robust accounting and maintenance features.
  • Strength: Complete Solution

Winner: Mobile App

RentRedi’s app is truly convenient and enjoyable to use, for both landlords and tenants. Advertising your vacancy can be managed easily from any mobile device, allowing you to correspond easily with prospective tenants from anywhere, in real time. For landlords on the go, and renters who expect mobile convenience, we see RentRedi as a great tool!

  • RentRedi is an all-inclusive landlord-tenant app. Manage vacancies, screening, and rent collection from wherever you are, on any device.
  • Strength: Complete Solution

Best Free Online Ways To Advertise Property For Rent: Our Contenders

Landlords have many options when searching for free online ways to advertise property for rent. We’ve avaluated these leading property management software products to help you find the solution that best serves your needs.

Evaluation Criteria: Scoring the best free online ways to advertise property for rent

We graded each of the software providers on 5 key rental marketing factors, on a 10 point scale, plus two bonus features. Read on for more details, here’s how they stack up:

Reach of Listings 9.5 10 8.5 9 8 9.5 6
Presentation 9.5 10 10 8 9.5 10 8
Cost 9.5 8 9 8 9 7 8
Applications 9.5 9.5 9 9 10 9.5 9
Screening 9.5 9 10 7 10 9.5 9
Bonus: Rent Estimates +2 - +2 - - - -
TOTAL 49.5 46.5 48.5 41 46.5 45.5 40

How many potential tenants is your vacancy ad reaching?  “Syndication” refers to how property management software platforms post your vacancy ad on rental listing sites. There are many such sites, and each software service selects which ones to partner with.  Until recent years we only used craigslist to advertise our vacancies. We still post ads there, but have found that renters are using flashier dedicated rental listing sites more and more.  We do award higher scores to services that integrate with craiglist because we still see renters shopping there.  A trend we anticipate growing is the use of social media to reach potential tenants, so we give credit to those who post on Facebook Marketplace.

Avail: score 9.5/10:

Avail gets your listings on virtually all high-traffic advertising sites. In addition to the Zillow network (which requires a paid account, see note above) and Avail’s own site, your ad will syndicate to Zumper, Apartments.com, Padmapper, Rentable, ApartmentList, Doorsteps.com, Realtor.com, and Walkscore.com. All this takes place as soon as you activate your listing on Avail. Avail does not list your vacancy on craigslist, which is the only reason we’ve given them a less than perfect score.

Buildium – score 10/10:

By listing a rental on Buildium you will automatically be placing the same ad on the Zillow family of sites, Apartments.com, ApartmentList, Zumper, Facebook Marketplace, PadMapper, and Craigslist.  Buildium gets your listing up on a majority of the big listing sites, which will get you in front of a very large percentage of rental shoppers.

TenantCloud – score 8.5/10:  

TenantCloud boasts a long list of marketing partners. Any listing will appear on all the Zillow sites, Oodle, Apartments.com, and Facebook Marketplace.   TenantCloud also partners with Rentler, which is unique because of it’s system that identifies matches between available rentals and prospective tenants.  Landlords and tenants see their matches and either party can contact the other. We see this as an valuable feature, however Rentler doesn’t seem to have a sizeable number of renters shopping on their platform.  TenantCloud misses some of the bigger advertising networks, including the Zumper sites, and does not syndicate to craigslist.

RentecDirect – score 9/10:  

Rentec Direct also boasts an impressive list of syndicate sites.  Among them are the Zillow sites, Apartments.com, Apartmentfinder, Doorsteps, Move.com, Rentals.com, Home.com, Realtor.com, Rent.com, RentPath, and trovit.com.  RentecDirect also posts to Craigslist, but misses the Zumper network, which includes PadMapper, and Facebook Marketplace.

RentRedi – score 8/10:

RentRedi’s real strength is its’ mobile interface, which is handy for landlords as well as prospective tenants who are shopping for a home. While RentRedi does not have as wide an advertising reach as some platforms do, they do get your listings on Doorsteps.com and Realtor.com, both of which have high traffic numbers. Each of your units will get a free professional-looking marketing site that’s easy to share on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or elsewhere.

Hemlane – score 9.5/10:

Hemlane hits all the major listing networks, including Zillow, Zumper, Padmapper, Facebook Marketplace, Apartments.com, Realtor.com, Walkscore, and ApartmentList. The syndicate list includes 30 sites at their Basic level. A paid Premium Listing gets your listing up on Zillow and other paid nextorks. Craigslist is the only omission we see.

Landlord Studio – score 6/10:

We really can’t give Landlord Studio much credit when it comes to the reach of rental listings on their platform. At this point they do not syndicate to the major advertising sites, however they’re new to the listings game so that may change.

Notes on Listing Networks:

u003cpu003eZillow: Listings are automatically posted to HotPads and Trulia. Zillow recently started charging to advertise vacancies. We discuss this below in the pricing section.u003c/pu003eu003cpu003eZumper: Listings are posted to PadMapper, WalkScore and Facebook MarketPlaceu003c/pu003eu003cpu003eApartments.com: ApartmentFinder, Realtor.com, Doorsteps, and several less known sites are in this network. Higher level advertising packages increase the number of sites your listing will be posted-on.u003c/pu003e

Professional-looking advertising helps a vacant unit look attractive, and lends credibility to the landlord offering it.  Here we evaluate the how easily each service helps property owners and managers present properties in an appealing way.

Avail – score 9.5/10:

Avail’s overall aesthetic is clean, casual, and fairly simple. While there isn’t a lot of flash to the listing presentation, we think the friendly feel is approachable and easy to take-in. Large urban apartment buildings may want a more glossy approach, but we think Avail’s design is a great fit for us independent owners and managers.

Buildium – score 10/10:  

Buildium provides a free personalized marketing website.  It boasts a simple, clear, and attractive design and allows unit-specific descriptions.  Drop-down amenity lists make it easy to customize features for each unit.  Photos and videos are easy to add, making it easy to create attractive, professional listings.

TenantCloud – score 10/10:  

TenantCloud offers a user-friendly website builder which enables you to create very attractive customized listings for each rental unit. The end product is a personalized listing site for each landlord, featuring a map showing properties, and a “Find a Rental” button so that applicants can browse your properties.

RentecDirect – score 8/10:  

To our eye Rentec Direct is particularly well designed for larger-scale landlords and property managers.  The website builder is less slick and feels a bit less modern than other products we’ve used, however the functionality is broad and is a good fit if you’re setting up a site to present a full portfolio of real estate.  Essentially you’re setting up a property management company site. The resulting presentation is not the most stunning we’ve seen, but the capabilities offered are valuable if you’re managing a number of properties.

RentRedi – score 9.5:

The RentRedi app has a very nice interface, which is easy to use for both landlords and applicants. Each listing also includes a professional-level marketing web page, which can be shared on other advertising platforms. Overall, we really like the look and feel of RentRedi’s app and marketing sites. Another nice feature RentRedi offers is the ability to upload a video tour to your vacancy listing.

Hemlane – score 10/10: 

Hemlane helps landlords build a clean & attractive professional site to showcase their rental properties. The aesthetic is clean, modern, and clear. Data and photos are stored for each unit, so creating a new listing when a vacancy comes up only requires the adjustment of pricing and the availability date. Hemlane does a great job of automating rental marketing with reminders, scheduling, and listings that are both thorough and attractive.

Landlord Studio – score 8/10:

Rental ads on the Landlord Studio platform have a simple, clean appearance. Properties are presented well on the site, however there aren’t any stand-out features such as video touring.

internal link Also Read: Rental Property Management Software Overview

We look at costs from the perspective of a property owner or manager who runs a small portfolio of properties, under 25 units for example.  Our assumption is that this landlord will be looking for a low-cost way to advertise and fill vacancies, and that extensive financial, reporting, and communication tools are a lower priority. We give bonus points to the products that provide free online ways to advertise property for rent but do, however, believe that for most landlords it is worthwhile to pay a small fee to get valuable features.

Avail – score 9.5:

Advertising as many units as you’d like is completely free on Avail. We only have two small quibbles; tenants are charged a $2.50 fee per transaction, and a full screening report bundle including credit, criminal, and evictions is a bit more expensive than other services, at $50. Landlords can choose to have applicants pay that fee, of course, or pay it themselves.

Avail also offers a $5 per unit per month subscription, which eliminates the tenant-paid transaction fee, shortens bank transfer times to 1-3 days instead of 3-5, and gives landlords the ability to edit and customize the 50-state localized lease documents.

Buildium – score 8/10:  

As we’ve pointed out in past articles, Buildium is designed for landlords and property managers with larger portfolios.  The entry-level subscription is $50/month, which will make sense for those who want a full service property management platform – including features such as financial reporting and maintenance tracking.  

Landlords with even 25-50 units, or small-scale property managers, will probably want a less costly service, however Buildium is a comprehensive platform and we believe it’s worth looking at if you’re wanting to refine your business processes.

TenantCloud – score 9/10:  

Landlords can list up to 75 units for free with a Basic membership.   Even this subscription level provides access to their slick custom website builder, creating visually appealing and user-friendly listings. One issue we have with TenantCloud’s free plan is that it only supports credit and debit card rent payments, which come with significant fees. The Starter plan, at $12/mo, also includes unlimited units and unlocks free ACH (bank transfer) rent payments.

RentecDirect – score 8/10:  

Rentec Basic costs $15/mo, however that includes one free premium screening package each month. A landlord who averages one applicant per month will save money on screening with this subscription, and with a far-reaching syndication network this option makes sense for some.  We do believe RentecDirect offers good rental marketing tools, however we prefer services that don’t require a paid subscription.

RentRedi – score 9/10:

Paid annually a RentRedi subscription costs $9/mo and includes an unlimited number of units and tenants. You can also include as many team members as you’d like, so looping-in assistants, spouses, contractors, or other parties is all free. Our only complaint is that vacancies do not reach as many eyeballs as on some other sites.

Hemlane – score 7/10:

Hemlane’s base pricing is $28, plus $2 for each unit. This subscription level gets your listings syndicated to over 30 sites. To add the Zillow network sites, rent.com, rentals.com, apartmentguide.com, and lovely.com you’ll need to purchase a Premium Listing for $89/month.

Hemlane has a wide marketing reach and is a great tool for landlords to present their properties professionally – all in one place. We think the upper subscriptions make a lot of sense for some landlords, as they offer unique features such as maintenance coordination and vacancy showings.

Landlord Studio – score 8/10:

A starting level subscription to Landlord Studio costs $5.99. This presents a great value if you’re particularly interested in property management software that streamlines your financial record keeping and accounting, as this is the product’s biggest strength. Overall we feel the value of the service is very good, however as advertising alone goes there are better options.

Pricing Notes on Zillow:

u003cpu003eMost of the services we’re reviewing will list your rentals on the Zillow network, including Trulia and HotPads. Until recently these ads were free, however Zillow is now charging for each listing you post after one initial free one. Pricing is confusing and changing. Here’s where it stands now:u003c/pu003eu003cpu003e-       $9.99 per unit per week, except in some states where it’s $4.99.u003c/pu003eu003cpu003e-       OR, a flat fee of $29.99 for 90 days, except in some states where the price is $19.99, or others where it’s $14.99.u003c/pu003eu003cpu003e-       OR, sign up for Zillow Feed Connect, which allows you to use another property management software product such as those we’re reviewing here.  Any listing you create on Avail or Buildium, for example, will automatically be posted to the Zillow sites.  Our most current pricing is $2.10 per unit per day.u003c/pu003e

internal link Also Read: The Best Free Property Management Software for Small Landlords in 2020

We love how online software products make the process of property management more efficient. Having an application built right into rental advertising saves the step of scanning, emailing, receiving, printing, and filing tenant applications.  (Or, worse yet, handling paper applications!)  All of these products allow prospective tenants to apply online.  We look at how easy it is to request and receive the information you want most.

Avail – score 10/10:

It is free and easy to request comprehensive applications from prospective tenants. With a paid subscription ($5/unit/month – which gets you several other benefits) Avail gives you tools to customize your application. The feature we like most is that the system will automatically email past landlords with reference questions. Another useful feature is that you can require applicants to upload documents such as their pay stubs or government ID.

Buildium – score 9.5/10:  

With Buildium landlords build customized applications that integrate into their marketing websites, specifying what personal information they require from applicants.  Asking whether a tenant is a smoker, has pets, or information about their vehicles is also possible.  Creating a custom checklist for use when reviewing applicants streamlines the process of choosing the best tenants.  Applicants can also be charged and application fee, in addition to having them pay directly for screening reports.

TenantCloud – score 9.5/10:  

TenantCloud also helps landlords customize the application they build-into their marketing website.  It is easy to add additional questions, charge application fees, and require that applicants upload particular files.  We believe this last feature is particularly handy in verifying applicant identity, or asking for proof of income.

RentecDirect – score 9/10:  

For a property owner or manager with a significant portfolio – at least 20 units, say – RentecDirect offers a lot of valuable tools to manage applicants.  Applications are customizable, and there is a “lead tracking” function that helps match applicants with suitable rentals.  Once an applicant has set desired criteria the system can even alert them to suitable new units as they become available.

RentRedi – score 10/10:

RentRedi has added a unique and very useful tool to their app, which guides interested renters through a prequalification process. Potential tenants answer 10 pre-screening questions, designed to give the landlord a quick look at whether they have a criminal record, are financially fit, are smokers, and have pets. Only once you have this information do you decide whether to invite a person to apply, or even come to view the property. We wrote a post a while ago on pre-screening questions to ask. RentRedi has built this process in, saving you a step.

As a landlord you’re also offered a list of documents you can ask applicants to upload as a part of completing their application.

Hemlane – score 9.5/10: 

Hemlane also asks pre-screening questions related to pets, smoking, and credit scores. Their dashboard keeps a log of everyone who has inquired about your property, and what steps they have made. The system automatically follows up, depending on what steps a potential tenant has taken so far. From the dashboard it is easy to invite your leads to apply, or to take the next step in the process.

Landlord Studio – score 9/10:

Landlord Studio has the best list of pre-screening questions we’ve seen, and you can choose which of them to have applicants ask and which not to. As with many other services, their dashboard gives you tools to manage your leads, and lets you invite those who have inquired to apply or submit screening reports.

Again, we love efficiency! The products that score best in this category are those where potential tenants order and pay for screening reports as a part of the application process.

Avail – score 9.5/10:

There are three levels of screening available through the Avail platform. All reports are paid for by applicants, unless the landlord chooses to pay themselves. The first is free and includes basic identity, residence, and employment history. The second costs $30 and includes everything in the free report as well as SSN verification and detailed credit reporting. The bundled report is $55 and includes everything above as well as local and federal criminal records, sex offender status, terrorist watchlist records, and evictions history. Our only gripe is that Avail’s reports are a bit more expensive than those from other services.

Buildium – score 9/10:  

Advertising, applications, and screening reports are all seamlessly tied together with Buildium.  There are two screening packages to choose from.   The Basic level report can be paid-for by the applicant, and delivers a full TransUnion Credit Report.  The Premium package can be ordered without the applicant’s direct involvement (with proper pre-approval) and landlords can set criteria a prospective tenant needs to meet in order to get the green light.

TenantCloud – score 10/10:  

From your marketing site potential tenants complete your customized application, upload any documents you’ve requested, and pay for the screening reports you require.  You can also choose to pay for reports yourself.

Partnering with TransUnion, TenantCloud offers three screening packages. The Background Check ($25)verifies an applicant’s identity, gives employment history, and reports on any criminal background. The Credit Check ($30) provides information on financial history, debt levels, and Social Security number verification. The Full Check ($35) includes results from the previous two reports as well as an eviction search.

RentecDirect – score 7/10:  

RentecDirect takes applicants from your marketing website to a custom application, however ordering screening reports is a separate step that must be completed by the property owner or manager.  From our perspective as owner-managers we prefer platforms that require prospective tenants to purchase reports directly.  We also don’t like having to take the additional step of ordering the reports.  The upside of RentecDirect screening offerings is that they are affordable and flexible, as there are several screening packages to choose from.

RentRedi – score 10/10:

Applicants order and pay for screening reports, straight from their mobile device or desktop, and it’s quickly visible to the landlord wherever they are. Landlords send customizable responses at a tap, and can request additional information. Full credit, criminal, and eviction reports cost the applicant $35, which is very competitive pricing.

Hemlane – score 9.5/10: 

Hemlane also partners with TransUnion, offering one comprehensive package that includes full background, criminal, eviction, and credit history reporting. Applicants pay the $30 fee, which is a good value.

Landlord Studio – score 9/10:

Like most of the other platforms we’ve looked at, Landlord Studio integrates TransUnion screening reports. You can pay for the reports or ask applicants to pay. Background and credit reports cost $38.

Pricing units competitively is crucial to filling vacancies quickly with good tenants.  We believe rent calculators are useful tools as they scan listings and summarize the competitive environment for similar properties in the area.  Having one of these features built-in is valuable-enough that we thought awarding bonus points is useful when considering where to list properties.

Avail – score 2/2:

As with TenantCloud, Avail provides rent price analysis powered by RentRange. At $19.99 the report gives landlords a wealth of information, including; a rental estimate, high/medium/low benchmarks, days-on-market report, and 5-year rental trends.

TenantCloud – score 2/2:  

TenantCloud partners with RentRange to offer robust pricing analysis.  “We are thrilled to introduce our Property Marketing Report, which provides an in-depth comparison of your property and other properties in the area. Property Reports provide accurate and reliable automated rent estimates”. As with Avail, the RentRange report costs $19.99.

Takeaway: Best Free Online Ways To Advertise Property For Rent

Reaching and appealing to the maximum number of prospective tenants is the first important step in keeping your properties fully occupied with great residents. There are many free online ways to advertise property for rent, and we’ve evaluated the best products in order to help you choose the solution that’s right for you.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and Landlord Gurus may earn a commission. Our mission remains to provide valuable resources and information that helps landlords manage their rental properties efficiently and profitably. We link to these companies and their products because of their quality, not because of the commission.

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About Eli Secor

Eli comes from a family of real estate investors, dating back several generations. He currently manages his own multifamily property, apartment buildings for clients, and commercial spaces. He has particular expertise in the construction and maintenance arena, having spent almost 20 years in the construction fields.
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