How to Host Successful Open Houses for your Rental Property

To attract renters, your property needs to be attractive - from start to finish.

A realtor in a mustard yellow cardigan holding a clipboard shows a family of four around a home. The realtor is gesturing to the walls. The family is a mother, father, and two young daughters. The youngest is on the father's shoulders and reaches up playfully toward the ceiling as the mother watches and smiles. The other daughter inspects the opposite wall.

In the rental game, image is everything. If you want to attract fantastic tenants and prevent costly vacancies, then your property needs to look polished and enticing. After all, you wouldn't show up to a job interview in stained and wrinkled clothing. So, why would you be satisfied with showing your rental property without making sure it looks its best?

To attract renters, your property needs to be attractive - from start to finish. After you entice potential applicants with a sparkling rental ad, it's time to win them over with a flawless unit showing. After that, it's imperative to make sure you're truly compatible with the tenant through comprehensive online tenant screening.

Should I host an open house or schedule individual appointments?

Choosing between a rental open house or scheduling individual appointments is the first big decision to make when showing your property. Doing it the right way for your situation can help you attract the quality tenants you're looking for. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks.

A Rental Open House

A rental open house is a specific window of time, during which all interested renters can check out the property and meet the landlord or property manager.

Benefits of a Rental Open House

Hosting a rental open house may save time. You can show the rental to multiple people at once and you don't have to go back and forth from the rental property each time you schedule a showing.

An open house may also create more competition, even if the rental market in your area is slow. If applicants see that other people are interested, then they may be more inclined to apply right away.

Drawbacks of a Rental Open House

One drawback of an open house is the inability to get a good read on prospective tenants. You'll be talking to multiple applicants and might not be able to spend too much time getting to know them individually.

Scheduling Individual Showings

An individual showing requires communicating with applicants ahead of time and arranging specific appointment times for them to come see the property. This method allows you to ask a few basic screening questions before meeting the prospective tenant in person, which may help you narrow down your pool of applicants early on.

Benefits of an Individual Showing

You can hone your focus in on each applicant and make a more in-depth first impression. For example, it might be easier to spot tenant warning signs in their communication and behavior, such as long gaps in employment history or a long history of job-hopping.

An individual open house showing also enables you to spend more time highlighting amenities that are tailored to each applicant. For example, when families are touring the rental, you can emphasize the game room and dining area. When you're showing the rental to young professionals, you could mention the proximity to commuting options.

Drawbacks of an Individual Showing

Individualized showings take much more time and effort. You need to schedule separate showings for each interested person, which can be a burden. However, it might be the right route if you have fewer applicants. If you do opt for individual showings, be diligent with your scheduling process to ensure you don't miss any appointments and can prepare the property accordingly.

How to host a rental property open house if current tenants still live there:

If you're renting out your home because the current tenants have decided to leave at the end of their lease, then you'll need to consider their presence in the space before showing the property.

Pros of hosting a rental open house with tenants still there

If you start showing your property before the current tenants move out, then you have a better chance at preventing costly vacancies. This is essential, as even a small gap in tenants can have a huge financial impact on independent landlords.

In addition, it is simpler to transfer utilities from tenant-to-tenant rather than tenant-to-landlord-to-tenant. Getting involved in such utility transfers can quickly become a pain.

If you decide to show the house while the current tenants still live there, then you must give them enough notice. It's not only courteous - it's generally the law (be sure to check the legal requirements applicable to you and/or consult legal counsel). Landlords usually are legally required to provide written notice to the tenant anytime they enter the property.

Typically, a landlord must give notice at least 24 hours before entering, but it's a good idea to double-check your state's and local county regulations. Make sure you include this provision in your lease regarding future showings, which is sometimes formally known as the "right to entry."

Arranging entry times with your current tenant also gives them time to prepare the space for viewing by cleaning their living spaces.

Best practices for showing a rental property with a current tenant still living there:

  1. Ask what time is convenient: It's best if your current tenant is not in the home while you show the property. Work to find a time that is convenient for everyone.
  2. Offer an incentive: A gift card or discount on the last month of rent is courteous and may entice the tenant to better prepare the space for viewing.
  3. Hire a professional cleaner: You may want to consider hiring a cleaning service to come in to prepare the space. Your current tenant can enjoy it for the rest of their lease and it will ensure the property is ready for prospective tenants to view.
  4. Be timely: You can't force your current tenant out of the unit for an entire day. If you schedule individual appointments, make them a half-hour or less. If you host a rental open house, try not to exceed a few hours

Get the House Move-In Ready

First impressions matter. Landlords should only show a move-in-ready rental property. If the property is empty, it's good practice to do the following:

Perform any necessary repairs:

  1. Fix holes in walls/doors
  2. Replace broken windows/screens
  3. Replace or repair damaged flooring
  4. Fix or replace faulty appliances
  5. Make sure the property is spotless. Consider hiring a professional cleaner
  6. Deep clean all carpets for a fresh scent in the property

Performing maintenance checks, including:

  1. Plumbing
  2. Heating
  3. Appliances
  4. Hardware, especially latches and catches

Make sure that your property looks as great as the day it was built; it is easier for renters to imagine themselves living in a space if it is clean and smells nice. It will also show that you are an attentive landlord, making it more likely that they will apply.

Advertise Your Rental Open House

Once the house is ready for viewing, it's time to advertise. Do so at least a week or two before you want to schedule appointments or host an open house. An effective rental ad is crucial to attracting a healthy pool of great applicants. Creating a high-quality rental listing will attract applicants quickly, making it easier for you to fill your vacancy.

Make sure to consider including the following on your listing:

  1. Basic property and lease information
  2. Rent amount
  3. Security deposit
  4. Monthly income requirement
  5. Application fee
  6. Duration of lease
  7. Move-in date
  8. Pet policy
  9. Utilities included if any.

You may also want to include your tenant screening requirements, so applicants know what to expect from the outset. For example, you might want to say on your rental listing:

  1. All applicants are required to submit a rental application
  2. All applicants are required to provide a rental history report
  3. All applicants are required to complete a credit and background check

In all instances, you should review the laws applicable to you and/or consult legal counsel.

If applicants are unwilling to meet any of the conditions outlined in your listing, then it could give you the chance and ability to remove them from the applicant pool right away in the early stages.

You should also include high-quality photos of the property. Use both interior and exterior shots to give prospective tenants an idea of features before the open house. Make sure the space is well-lit, free from clutter, and looks welcoming.

Finally, you'll want to close out your rental listing by highlighting any popular amenities offered. After all, there are over 44,000,000 rental-occupied households in the United States, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. How are you going to make your property stand out?

If your property offers amenities tenants want, then identify them in your rental listing to entice open house attendees. Examples may include:

  1. Additional on-site storage
  2. Air conditioning
  3. Location (proximity to schools, stores, gyms, nightlife, etc.)
  4. Washer/dryer in unit
  5. BBQs on site
  6. Pool or gym
  7. Utilities included
  8. Pet policy

Post your listing in as many places as possible to attract the attention of local community members as well as prospective renters looking to move into the area:

  1. Online sites such as,, etc.
  2. Local bulletin boards at community spaces
  3. Social media posts and ads
  4. Signage at the property itself

Tips for the Day of Your Rental Property Showing

Whether you choose to host a rental open house or schedule individual showings, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Smell: It should smell nice and welcoming. Use air fresheners or bake cookies right before prospective tenants arrive to give them a sense of happiness as soon as they arrive.
  2. Open up the space: Open windows or doors to increase natural light. If furnished, then consider getting rid of heavy drapery that can darken a room.
  3. Small touches: Using flowers, plants, or decorative items can make the unit seem cozier and may help tenants envision themselves in the space better.
  4. Comfortable temperature: Make sure the indoor temperature is comfortable. If the showing is going to happen during hot summer months, then go early to turn the AC on. Likewise, if the showing occurs over the winter months, make sure the heater is running.
  5. Show off the exterior: Some tenants may be looking for a rental property that boasts a nice front yard or backyard. Show potential tenants any outdoor living spaces. Make sure any pet waste or fallen leaves have been removed.
  6. Features: Highlight the marketable features of your rental property. Think back to your listing and talk about the selling points that may entice a prospective tenant.
  7. Be courteous and respectful: While this is your chance to start screening potential applicants, it's also the time to make a good first impression of yourself. A good landlord-tenant relationship starts from the first day, so conduct yourself accordingly.
  8. Have applications ready: Some tenants may be ready to apply immediately. Have applications available for interested parties.

What to Look for During the Showing

As you show the property, consider your prospective tenant's behavior. It can reflect their motivations, trustworthiness, and other relevant character traits.

It could be a major red flag if your applicant:

  1. Shows up late or reschedules at the last minute
  2. Avoids answering questions
  3. Hesitates or is unwilling to give you basic information or references
  4. Refuses to authorize a background check
  5. The applicant shows up with people who aren't applying for the property

If you do spot any of the above during your rental property showing, you may want to move on to another candidate. Always check the laws applicable to you and/or reach out to legal counsel about your obligations and responsibilities.

Get the Right Tenants through the Door with Comprehensive Screening

Showing your rental property in the best light possible may translate to quicker tenant placement, so you can start getting paid sooner. That said, you must be extremely careful about who you select to live in your property. After all, anyone can show up to an open house: know exactly who you're renting to with comprehensive tenant screening.

Even if an applicant made an excellent first impression at your open house, there could still be some major red flags looming just under the surface. CreditLink tenant screening can help you to identify potential red flags and verify that your rental applicant is just as great as they look.

So, smile for the camera and get your unit ready. Put in the effort and you'll be well on your way to hosting a successful open house - and finding your next best renters - in no time.

Created on: 03/25/24

Author: CreditLink Secure Blog Team


Explore More