‘Tis the season for good cheer, holiday festivities, and joy, but unfortunately it is not the season for high tenant-to-property ratios and rental demand.

Many landlords do their best to avoid signing leases that expire during the holiday season, but unforeseen circumstances, like evictions or emergencies, can cause vacant rental properties after the snow hits, and with the real estate market trending down starting in October, it can be difficult to find tenants to fill those empty homes.

In order to increase your chances of finding a good tenant to take over your rental during the winter months, there are a number of things that you can do as a landlord to increase the desirability of your rental and to entice what few property-seekers are out there.

Follow along with this post to up your rental game during the winter months by making your property stand out among the rest.

Merry Marketing

One of the biggest mistakes that a landlord can make when trying to fill a rental in the winter is sticking to their regular marketing tactics. What works during the busy season isn’t going to do as well during the slower months, so to stand out, you need to create a seasonal marketing plan.

Basically, this means taking what already works and improving it, as well as exploring new marketing channels that you haven’t tried before.

Try to reach your audience in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Through both personal and public social media.
  • Emails, rental forums, and online ads.
  • Print ads in local papers or newsletters.
  • Networking events.

If you already have successful marketing channels that you want to expand, work on making improvements that will attract potential tenants. You can do this by:

  • Getting your ad copy written by a professional.
  • Having quality pictures taken of the suite or home.
  • Paying to have your ad highlighted or featured.
  • Increasing the number of ads or places that you advertise in.

Because there tend to be more available properties and fewer tenants during the cold months, tenants can sometimes be a bit pickier when it comes to selecting which homes to view. Things like spelling errors, badly lit photos, and ads that aren’t easy to find can cause tenants to become unenthused and move on to the next available property.

Pay more attention to your marketing to make sure that you can still compete in a slower market.

Innovative Incentives

While offering incentives during the warmer months isn’t uncommon, doing so in the winter becomes a bigger priority to landlords seeking tenants. Those looking for properties are likely to take advantage of enticing bonuses over mediocre ones, especially with the holidays just around the corner.

Creative winter rental incentives include:

  • First month’s rent free.
  • Lower rent overall.
  • Gift cards to grocery stores or home outfitting stores.
  • Wholesale memberships, like Costco.
  • Free utilities for the first month.

You can also explore incentives unique to your potential tenant or local area. For example, if you have a tenant who is interested but who really wanted in-suite laundry, offer a gift card for a local laundromat, or help to pay for a portable washer.

You can even try contacting local businesses for gift cards or discounts that provide potential customers to them, unique rental incentives for you to offer, and freebies for your future tenants.

Tolerant Terms

The holidays are the perfect time for giving, and what better to give than looser rental terms for potential tenants? If you are having trouble finding a good renter for the winter, it might be time to revisit your terms to see if there’s anything that might be preventing tenants from wanting to rent from you.

For example, if you don’t allow pets you are turning away a large chunk of prospective tenants. Instead, you may want to try allowing pets for the right tenant. Not every pet owner lets their cat or dog run rampant, many are trained. You can also try to cover any future losses by asking for a pet deposit.

The same goes for any other lease terms that you think may affect the rentability of your suite. Review your lease and any extra terms to figure out where you could offer more flexibility.

It doesn’t hurt to consider your actual term length either. Of course, most landlords prefer to rent for longer periods of time, but if that’s not working for you, try to explore non-conventional lease lengths to see if that brings in any new business. It could even end up being beneficial to you: if you find a tenant in December who is interested in a six month lease, that brings you to June, a month in which rental demand is high.

Even a three month lease would bring you to March, and the real estate market is picking up around then. Remember, if you do sign a tenant on a twelve month lease in December, you’ll likely be facing this same problem next season too, so allowing for shorter terms can actually benefit you in a number of different ways.

Seasonal Support

If you’ve lowered rent, improved your marketing, and done your best to find a tenant, it might be time to enlist some seasonal support.

You can start by asking friends and family members, networking connections, or even previous tenants if they know of anyone looking for a rental. Ask them to share a post on their social media profiles to spread the word.

If that doesn’t work, you might need to invest in professional support in the form of a property manager. Property managers are approached by both tenants and property owners, and they work by pairing them together based on their needs. While they will expect to manage the property and take a fee for doing so, they may be able to fill your home a lot more quickly than you could on your own.

Another option is to see if there are any tenant placement services within your city or town. If so, get in touch to see if they have any home-seekers who may be interested in what you are offering.

Holiday Homes

It’s no secret that the real estate market dies down during the holiday season, and no landlord wants to cover the cost of a property for a whole season. Do your best to be competitive during this time to attract tenants, rent your space faster, and have the time (and financial stability) to enjoy a worry-free holiday.

What winter rental tips do you have to offer?

Posted by Brittany Foster

Brittany is a writer, editor, and content manager interested in law, marketing, and technology. She's been writing for LawDepot since 2014.