You will obtain the largest number of potential tenants by placing ads in the local newspaper, putting a “For Rent” sign in the yard, and registering with various Internet services such as www.rentals.com and www.rentalhouses.com. I recommend providing your cell phone number rather than a home or work number. That way, you will be sure to receive all calls, and no one will accidentally erase your messages or neglect to take a written message.
You will obtain the best and most qualified tenants by personal outreach and referrals. Ask neighbors if they know anyone who would like to rent your house. Neighbors, especially homeowners, will want to make sure your tenant is someone who will take care of the property and keep the neighborhood looking nice. Visit nearby apartments, if possible. Many apartment dwellers would love to move into a home in the same general area and school zone. Contact local religious leaders, and ask if you can put an announcement in the weekly newsletter or on a bulletin board, or if they will refer community members to you. Keep track of foreclosure notices, especially those on homes in the same general area. An owner facing foreclosure is not necessarily a poor credit risk, and might make an excellent tenant.
Offering to pay a referral fee is not always a good idea because in many states, paying a referral fee for rentals is illegal unless the other person has a real estate license. For real estate agents, the typical referral fee is one month’s rent.