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How to Use Move-In Specials to Quickly Fill Rental Vacancies

How to Use Move-In Specials to Quickly Fill Rental Vacancies


Vacancy; a costly and scary word for landlords everywhere. While there are many steps owners can take to fill their property quickly, including effective marketing and competitive pricing, sometimes prospects need an added push. Move-in specials or incentives give landlords a competitive edge over the local competition. Moving can be expensive, and renters look for ways to save where they can. Continue reading as we discuss attracting tenants and some common ideas for move-in specials that can help landlords fill vacancies quickly.

Best Practices for Attracting Potential RentersBest Practices for Attracting Potential Renters

Filling a vacancy does not have to be anxiety-inducing if you have a trusted plan in place. To help get the most out of your marketing, consider these plan-ahead tips to drive potential renter traffic below:


  • Conduct Inspections – Regular inspections are essential for landlords and should be completed at least semi-annually. Inspections allow you to address underlying maintenance concerns before they become a larger problem.
  • Jumpstart Turnover – When a vacancy arises, use information gathered from inspections to plan an efficient turnover process proactively. Line up vendors ahead of time to limit the amount of vacancy time needed.
  • Don’t Forget Curb Appeal – First impressions are lasting ones. The exterior of a rental property sets the tone for how potential renters see your home. Remove any debris or trash and trim shrubs for a well-kept and tidy look. Power washing is also a great idea!
  • Priced to Move – Pricing is the biggest contributor to properties sitting stale on the market. Renters research the local competition, and so should you. Make sure your property is priced in line with comparable homes.

Best Practices for Attracting Potential Renters

Optimize Marketing

  • Check Your Details – Inaccurate data in rental ads leads to confusion and lost time. Ensure property specifics, tour information, and contact details are correct across all ads and websites.
  • A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Great photos that are bright, clean, and showcase your investment property in the best light are essential. This is your first and best chance to capture a prospect’s attention while scrolling through listings. If it is in your budget, professional pictures are worth it.
  • Video Tours, The New Normal – COVID-19 has changed how people tour homes. Offering 360-degree video tours of your property showcases the best features while also keeping everyone safely apart.
  • Descriptions with Intent – A well-written description grabs the reader’s attention and highlights important amenities renters are looking for. Refresh descriptions periodically to keep them interesting if you find your listing has low traffic.
  • Maximize Presence – Rental ads need to be featured where prospects are searching; online! Consider popular paid sites such as Zillow or a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign to boost your listings.
  • Social Media – Utilize social media platforms to your advantage. Post on your community and college Facebook groups to share details and photos of your property. This is an easy way to notify a large number of prospects of property availability.
  • Sell the Lifestyle – Upgrades and modern interiors are great, but the neighborhood is also part of why renters choose your listing above others. Emphasize local amenities such as walkability, proximity to entertainment, local transit, and shopping.

Business Basics

Business Basics

  • Personal Touches – Follow up with all prospects who reach out and add personal touches. Specifically, use their name in responses and address direct questions they may have had. Avoid generic email blasts and really try to connect with your tenants.
  • Build a Reputation – Online reputation can make or break a landlord or property management firm. Invite satisfied current tenants to submit reviews and be sure to respond to any negative comments that arise. This shows prospects that you care about the happiness and comfort of residents.
  • The SEO Angle – More than 80% of renters use online sites to find their next home. Therefore, online is where landlords need to be. Using search engine optimization (SEO) tools can improve your presence online and help renters find your listings faster.
  • Go Mobile – Optimizing your website, 3D tours, or listings to be mobile friendly is essential nowadays. Millennials especially turn to their phones to search for a new rental property.
  • Hire Professionals – Professional property management firms have all the tools at their disposal to limit vacancy time. Whether handling maintenance issues, marketing, or screening tenants, leaving this to professionals is a worthwhile investment for property owners.

Boosting Competitive Edge with Move-in Specials to Fill Vacancies

Boosting Competitive Edge with Move-in Specials to Fill Vacancies

So, is a move-in special worth it? When is it necessary to consider them? Both valid questions for landlords looking to fill vacancies. Move-in specials are an excellent way to attract a larger pool of high-quality tenants by setting your rental apart from the competition. Even when the rental rate is the same as others in the area, a move-in special might serve as the last push to get tenants into your lease. Let’s takes a look at some scenarios where offering move-in specials can be advantageous for property owners.

  1. Leasing Season – Rental leasing is largely seasonal, with Summer being the most in-demand time. If you find your rental property vacant in the less desirable Winter months, a move-in incentive is a great idea to draw in tenants. On the flip side, if the neighborhood is seeing a large amount of competition, rent specials serve as a way to get your listing noticed. Rent incentives may also help tenants overlook neighborhood downsides, such as ongoing construction.
  2. Struggling Market Conditions – The market drives nearly every aspect of real estate. So, unless all conditions are perfect and your property is directly in high demand, rent incentives or move-in specials help bring in extra traffic. After all, the greater number of applicants you receive, the more you have to choose from to find the best fit.


Popular Move-In Specials for Rental Properties

Everyone loves free stuff; renters are no exception. Before deciding which special might be best for you, make sure it fits into your budget. Check out these suggestions below:

  1. First Month Free
  2. Reduce the Rent
  3. Waive Fees
  4. Offer Free Stuff

First Month Free

This is a very appealing and popular option. It is expensive to move, moving costs, additional security deposit, plus the first month’s rent is a lot for a renter to come up with. Offsetting that by offering a move-in special for the first month free can draw in a larger group of potential applicants. Additionally, this is the perfect special to offer in conjunction with a longer lease term, for example, “1 Month Free with an 18-month Lease”. Yes, you will not get the first month of rent; however, you have locked tenants into a longer lease term, which is a plus for landlords in the long run.  

Reduce the Rent

Do not let this one scare you away! Reduced rent sets you apart from the other competitors in the neighborhood, and tenants recognize this value. If you have done plenty of research on the local market, chances are the rental rate is right in line with the competition. So, why reduce the rent further? The key to making this work in your favor as a landlord is to offer strategically reduced rates. For example, if the home is vacant in the Fall or Winter, consider offering a 15 or 18-month lease at a reduced rate. This serves two purposes, to entice tenants to sign and also to set you up in a better leasing season once the property becomes vacant again. Therefore, carefully evaluate your circumstances and look for terms that will profit better in the long run for the small sacrifice of slightly reduced rent.

Waive Fees

Anywhere tenants can save a little money is a bonus. Something as simple as waiving an application or processing fee can be seen as an incentive to potential tenants. You never know if something small can be what tips the scale in your favor.

Offer Free Stuff

This is a perfect opportunity to utilize desirable amenities to attract a wide pool of qualified tenants. Do you have the ability to offer free or reduced parking rates, free internet service, reduced gym memberships, or free items like a TV? All of these items are bonuses to a potential occupant that make your property more appealing than the competition. Consider the area and neighborhood and offer items or activities that best suit the target market.

Different Types of Incentives for Renters

Different Types of Incentives for Renters

Free stuff is not the only way to drive tenants to your listing. Highlighting convenience and upgrades is another way to fill a vacancy faster. Renters often view upgrades and technology as a huge plus when determining their next home. Check out these ideas below.

  • Property Upgrades – While you may not immediately correlate upgrades with rent specials, they are still a bonus and attractive asset for renters. When you are up against the stiff market competition, details matter; even though this is a rental property, tenants still want to feel at home and comfortable. Fresh paint, new appliances, built-in storage, updated baths, and hardwood flooring are all features high-quality tenants look for in a prospective property. Offering these amenities at a fair market rate allows your unit to rise above the competition and also increase the overall value of your rental property.


  • Technology and Convenience – Rental agreements do not just end after the lease is signed; this is a long term relationship. That said, just as you evaluate prospective tenants, they also evaluate if they want to rent from you. Offering conveniences such as online rent collection is an incentive for residents to save both time and headaches for you and tenants. Many online property management services offer landlords options for online rent, maintenance requests, and even tenant screening for a low monthly fee.


What is a Bad Idea as a Move-In Special?

Lowered or no security deposit! While this may be very appealing to renters, landlords need to think long and hard before offering this as a rental concession. You may think a great tenant on paper will take good care of your property, but the truth is, it is impossible to predict everything that can happen over the course of a lease.

The security deposit is in place to protect you and your investment against any damages above and beyond normal wear. Additionally, it covers added expenses if the tenant decides to break the lease.

Therefore, deciding to reduce or eliminate the security deposit could end up as a costly mistake at the end of the lease. Instead, consider the other options above, like reducing the rent or offering a month free to offset renters moving costs. These are still great options while not putting landlords at a greater risk.


Closing Thoughts

Are you looking for additional ways to reduce vacancy and find the best tenants for your rental investment? No landlord wants their property to be vacant longer than necessary. Our tried and true screening at Bay Property Management Group, along with full-service marketing, gives your property the exposure it needs to secure a qualified tenant. Our experienced leasing team stays in touch with you during the entire process, updating you weekly on traffic, leads, and ongoing applications. That level of service ensures you stay on top of the market conditions and can offer move-in specials as needed to get vacancies filled quickly. Contact us today to learn more about our full-service property management in Baltimore and throughout Maryland, DC, and Pennsylvania.