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How to Rent your Apartment on Craigslist: The Definitive Guide

Eden Chai

Today we’re going to show you how to create a Craigslist ad that gets:

  • Tons of clicks
  • Hundreds of calls
  • And thousands of inquiries!

Let's get to it!

Chapter 1:

How does Craigslist work?

Not every search engine is as sophisticated as Google.

The question is:

How can you make the most of it?

Craigslist is an online, classified ad website with various sections devoted to Housing, Jobs, Second-Hand Items, Roommates, Dating, and more. The website is completely free to use and is available to anyone willing to work within the company’s stated guidelines.

Now, how can you get maximum visibility in Craigslist’s search engine?

Anytime you post an ad on Craigslist, it goes to the top of the list on the main page for your category. As time goes on and more ads get posted, your ad is pushed farther down the list.

According to Craigslist’s guidelines, you can only post one ad per available unit every 48 hours. In our experience, this rule is loosely enforced, so just make sure you don’t overdo it.

Craigslist searches only return results with the exact words within the title. A good example would be searching for “apartments” in Los Angeles.

In the image below, see how the only results are those with the exact word “apartments” in the title? If you simply wrote “apartment,” your ad would be excluded from this search.

In a nutshell, posting often and including keywords in your title are vital to Craigslist success.

Chapter 2:

How to Post Your Apartment on Craigslist (steps)

Now that you have an idea of how Craigslist works, it’s time to make your first post.

We have some great news – it’s incredibly simple.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way.

  • Go to
  • In the top left corner click on “create a posting”
  • Choose the location that fits your listing  (your location might be auto-filled if you recently performed a search)
  • Click “housing offered”
  • Choose the option that says “apts/ housing for rent”

The next steps are crucial to ensure the performance of your ad.

There will be several required fields in which you’ll need to input all of the information about your listing:

  • Posting Title
  • City or Neighborhood
  • Postal Code
  • Description
  • Rent
  • Square footage
  • Housing type
  • Laundry
  • Parking
  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms

The more information you include, the more qualified your leads will be.


  • To upload your pictures click on “Add Images.”
  • Once all your pictures are uploaded, you can drag each individual picture around to put them in your preferred order.
  • The next and final step to posting ad on craigslist is to review the ad to make sure everything looks right. There are three buttons on the top left of the page which allow you to edit the post, location, or images as needed before the ad is published.

Most people are attracted to the visual aspect of ads. The price matters too, of course, but professional photos can go a long way.

Chapter 3:

Craigslist Don'ts

Craigslist’s guidelines are actually not that complicated.

As long as you follow the Fair Housing Act and follow a few simple steps, you’ll be fine.

Read on to discover our top 5 Craigslist mistakes.

a) Don’t Include Discriminatory Content

In addition to Craigslist’s own guidelines, the site also includes Fair Housing Laws in its non-discrimination policy. Any posts that are found to discriminate against any of the seven protected classes – sex, race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, and disability – will be removed, and your account may be banned at Craigslist’s discretion.

Examples of bad titles include:

– No Families Allowed

– Primarily Jewish Area

– No Section 8

It’s okay for your listing to communicate that you will select tenants based on their ability to make rent payments, but it’s not okay to say that you will choose based on whether an applicant has children or not.

b) Don’t Include Long Paragraphs

Don’t copy and paste every detail about your apartment into one egregiously long paragraph. Instead, break up your text into a few sections so that potential residents can easily find the information most important to them.

Here is an example of a bad listing description:


Bullet points are your best friend here; use them well so leads can easily find the information

they’re looking for.

c) Don’t Post the Same Content Every Time

Craigslist might not be the most sophisticated search engine, but when you post the same content each time it is much easier for site administrators to flag your listings and remove them.

d) Don’t Use All Caps

It’s always a good idea to try and make your listing stand out, but the Caps Lock key is not your friend.

e) Don’t Exaggerate

It can be tempting to market your run-down treadmills as a “luxury fitness center,” but this will only hurt your credibility in the long run. Your tenants have an image of what they want in their mind. Setting high expectations only to fail to meet them is a waste of everyone’s time.

Trust is everything when acquiring new residents. If your description doesn’t match the offering, you’ve broken the trust needed to secure a new tenant and rent your apartment.

Chapter 4:

Tips for a Complete Listing

Posting on Craigslist can be tedious because you have to post continuously to make sure your apartment gets seen.

Don’t you want to make sure the effort was worth it?

Follow these tips to maximize the effectiveness of your posts.

a) Include High Quality Photography

Pictures are by far the most important part of a Craigslist ad. Most people filter results to only show properties that have photos and spend far more time looking through photos than reading text.

If you can’t afford a professional photographer, we recommend using your smartphone to take photos around 10:00 am in the morning when there is ample sunlight.

b) Headline Structure

Your headline should always include the unit type + location. The majority of searches will include unit type and location, so it’s important to appear in those results.

c) Include Keywords

It’s hard to figure out what phrases people are searching when coming up with a title. Luckily, Craigslist’s auto-complete is a cool little hack you can use to make sure you’re using winning keywords.

All you have to do is click on the search bar and type in a broad key phrase, such as “1 bedroom” and see what suggestions come up.

d) Draw Attention to Your Listing With Symbols

Every classified ad tries to be different with their copy, but there’s only so much you can do with different wording. Adding a symbol such as ►► to the front of the listing title can increase your CTR (click-through-rate) tremendously. Be wary not to include too many symbols as it might come off as spammy.

See some examples below:

Beautiful 1 Br in Sunny Lancaster!
Cozy 2 Bedroom with Fitness Center
►► Luxury Studio in Doorman Building!
1 Bedroom Apartment Palmdale

Which title were you drawn to first?

e) Create Separate Ads For Each Unit Type

Remember, with Craigslist, more ads = more exposure for you since the results always place the most recent ads at the top of the queue. If you have more than one unit available, we recommend indicating that at the bottom of each ad, as it encourages potential leads to reach out.

f) Make Sure the Address is Correct.

Craigslist uses their own maps system and often the pin drops in the wrong place. After you insert the address, make sure to drop the pin on your exact location to avoid confusion or send potential leads to your competitors.

Chapter 5:

Apartment Craigslist Titles

When crafting a title for your ad, be as direct as possible.

Your leads are looking for the bottom line, not a long-winded sales pitch.

Sell the click, not the whole apartment.

See some of our favorite Craigslist titles below:

-Beautifully Remodeled 2 bedroom apartment in Fullerton

– Newly Renovated 2br 2ba in Beautiful SIlverlake

– Refreshed Charming Studio in the Heart of Hollywood

– Large 2 Bedroom Apartment with lots of natural light in hollywood

– Two Bedroom Apartment in Riverside –  $500 off

– ►► Luxury 2 Bedroom Apartment With Lots of Amenities

– Lovely Studio Apartment in the Heart of Culver City

– 2 Bedroom Apartment with Mountain Views in Palm Springs  

– ►► Newly Remodeled Two Bedroom Apartment in La Jolla |

– One Bedroom One Bath Apartment in Mid-Wilshire

Chapter 6:

Craigslist Tools

Craigslist isn’t the easiest platform to use. Thus, to find success and lease as many of your apartments as possible, you’re going to need to put in the work.

Fortunately, there are some tools available to help you do more in less time.

1) Rooof is one of our favorite Craigslist tools because it automates the reposting process for you. It costs just $99 per month, and can save you hours each month.

2) We like using Pixlr as a free retouching tool for real estate images. Keep in mind, if your image is poor quality or has bad lighting, Pixlr can’t fix that. However, if you want your images to pop more and stand out, you should definitely play around with this.

3) Hemingway is an extremely powerful content writing tool to ensure your copy is “bold and clear” as their website suggests. Paste your property description into this tool to ensure you’re writing like a pro.


With Craigslist, having a complete listing is not enough. To truly succeed, make sure you have excellent copy, powerful imagery, proper formatting, and are using the right keywords so that you get the most qualified leads out of the platform.

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