5 bizarre spare-room adverts that will change your view of renting forever
The housing market can be a notoriously competitive place for landlords and tenants alike. In certain areas of the UK, demand for living space is so high that a property is often snapped up within a matter of hours of being listed on the market.
This growing demand for rental properties has seen the number of residential landlords soar in recent years. To deal with the increased volume of competition, some landlords are now employing all manner of creative tactics to ensure their listings stand out on the market - while others are just bizarre.
Below we take a look at some of the more unusual and imaginative attempts to attract the attention of potential tenants, and try to determine whether they are in fact genius or just plain weird.
I am the walrus
When looking to advertise your property it’s important to keep an open mind. Tenants can come from all walks of life, which means they may have different expectations when it comes to lifestyle choices. If you have any unusual requests regarding living arrangements, it’s best to be upfront about them in your advert, but at the same time make sure you aren’t simply imposing excessive ‘house rules’ on potential tenants, as it’s likely to put them off from applying.
When it comes to peculiar living requests, none is more bizarre than a listing made famous by American cult director Kevin Smith. He took a creepy request for a live-in-tenant who had to be willing to dress up and act as a walrus in lieu of paying rent, and turned it into a horror movie.
The property listing tells the story of a retiree, who is looking for company in his Brighton home. The landlord wishes to recapture a fond era of his life when he spent three years on St. Lawrence Island with a companion walrus named Gregory.
To apply, all applicants were subjected to an audition to find the most ‘natural’ walrus, and in return, the tenant was granted complete run of the house – apart from a “workshop” which was out of bounds…
Needless to say this bizarre posting took the internet by storm, with individuals fascinated by the arrangement. The landlord became inundated with requests for an audition and he now lives happily with his own resident tenant-playing-walrus.
You can’t handle the truth
Honesty is always the best policy – even when writing an advert for your property. If you embellish the truth, you will only come unstuck when the tenant comes to view the property - so make sure you accurately represent it in your advert to save wasting both time and effort. However, there is a definite line – one that has been crossed by this Cambridge-based landlord who gave a hilariously blunt description of his property.
Describing the property as “Bosnia-chic”, the advert’s tongue-in-cheek tone suitably lowers the expectations of prospective tenants in a way that simultaneously piques the reader’s interest. The hilarious advert uses fantastically candid descriptions such as, “Rooms vary from £300 PCM for a shoebox to £335 for a medium sized cupboard…” and, “…the house has rising damp and electrics that would horrify and electrician” along with the promise to throw in the lingering stale smell that haunts the property for free!
Once again the advert took the internet by storm, and was even picked up by the press, giving it national coverage, which begs the question: is being truthfully blunt about your property business suicide, or marketing genius?
Who ya gonna call?
Another part of being honest in order to attract a tenant includes being truthful about the property’s past, no matter how strange it is.
When a Liverpool-based landlord listed a property on Right Move, they felt it necessary included details of the property’s past. However, it turns out the previous tenant in fact moved out because she feared that her life was being threatened by a poltergeist.
The advert starts out like any other, but then – in almost a reluctant tone – admits that to suspicions of a supernatural past.
The advert reads: “Please note previous tenants have advised us that they have experienced paranormal activity at the property.” According to local press, a previous tenant had been lifted and dropped from her bed by a poltergeist, and neighbours had long reported violent shaking coming from the property.
The unusual rental advert was picked up by local media who were keen to investigate the story. This in turn helped the landlord fill the vacant property quickly as it began attracting attention - although perhaps not for the right reasons.
Tenants behaving badly
If you’re having trouble attracting the right kind of tenant for your property, try rewriting your advert to sell a lifestyle. For example, young professionals are more likely to be attracted by location, where as a young family are more likely to be concerned with space.
One Kent-based landlord recognised the potential of appealing to a lifestyle to attract the best tenant when his Men Behaving Badly style advert took the rental world by storm. With promises of the ideal bachelor lifestyle, the advert truthfully states “We generally try to keep the flat tidy, but because we are busy with work, going to the pub, and we’re blokes can’t be bothered, it can be untidy at times.” In fact, the advert’s strongest selling point is the property’s relative location to not one, but four different bars – clearly this landlord knows exactly how to appeal to their ideal tenant.
Then finally - in case it wasn’t already clear - the advert concludes by stating those who wear suits to work, have a large ego or wish to be Alan Sugar’s next apprentice need not apply.
Some words are worth a thousand pictures
Pictures can speak a thousand words – but this doesn’t mean that words aren’t important. The words that you choose to use in your advert can have a powerful impact on how successful it will be. It’s important that you take your time and consider what the words are really say about your property.
When one landlord from Brixton placed an advert online for his property, he took the concept of creative copy to a whole new level.
By interspersing tall facts about the properties previous tenants - including Churchill, Einstein, George Best and even Kinga from Big Brother - with genuine selling points of the house - such as its location in relation to nearby Brixton station - the advert stood out from countless others in the Brixton area – and was even picked up largely by the blogosphere.
But the landlord doesn’t stop with outlandish claims of past celebrity tenants. The advert utilises the inventive language of real estate, where small is translated to cosy, and rustic means outdated, and takes it a step further. This landlord gives his property the ultimate endorsement by opening with descriptive language, claiming the property was “Built by the bare hands of Zeus, decorated by DaVinci, and perfumed by the flora of the Garden of Eden”. Needless to say, prospective tenants won’t forget this advert in a hurry.
With landlords tearing up the rule book when it comes to finding a new tenant, it is hard not admire the bizarre, if not pioneering, spirit that is in fact helping them stand out above the often deafening din of the rental market.