Why We Love Property Management Software (And You Should, Too!)
by Pete Elvin
The evolution of technology, especially the Internet, is arguably the most revolutionary improvement in how we seek and digest information. Nearly every industry, job, or day-to-day task can be executed more efficiently due to technological advancements, yet the conventional dynamic between tenant and landlord is relatively unchanged. It is never fun to chase someone down for debts that they owe, or to misplace the original details of a lease agreement when it’s time to assess the legality of a situation.
Although a few property management agencies are starting to see the light and understand the benefits of adopting a more organized system to manage tenants, there is still a great need for improvement across the board. Rentalutions provides online property management software to help you live and work more efficiently. We’ve put together a short list of why we love property management software and why we think you will, too. (Spoiler: the benefits are tangible to both landlords and tenants.)
Why Property Management Software is a Great Asset for Landlords
Better Organization & More Time to Address the Priorities
Knowing that each lease agreement, along with any associated legal documents, is securely stored online and accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world is a huge time saver. You might be surprised by how much time is freed up when you no longer need to sift through file cabinets to find important documents.
Additionally, collecting rent online can also be a huge time saver. It is easy to track which tenants paid on time, you don’t need to worry about dealing with the postal service, and you have a clear record of their payment history.
You also have the ability to issue late fees and manage the security deposit, all in one place. Online rent payment platforms like ours also issue receipts for transactions, which provides assurance for the tenant and added clarity for the landlord.
I lived in the Bronx for four years, an area with notoriously variable living situations, and our landlord was a DIY individual who relied on old school methods. Our relationship became somewhat tense as the lease went on, as I would receive a call from him without a voicemail, and when I would call back a few hours later he couldn’t remember the unit I lived in or the reason for the call. This is just one personal example of the consequences of a disorganized landlord.
Efficient Property Listings
There is a wide array of websites to showcase your listings, such as Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads and Craigslist. Creating different accounts and posting multiple properties on each site takes a lot of time. It can be a huge headache to constantly juggle accounts, remember different logins, and field inquiries from prospective tenants across different sources. If you accidently included additional or different pictures between the various platforms, there will be confusing and conflicting conversations depending on the website that the tenant looked at.
Property management software can give you the ability to create one comprehensive listing for each unit and post rental listings across the web at once — no more juggling multiple accounts. You can also utilize a simple template to showcase any amenities offered, and what is not included with the apartment. This is yet another method to create transparency with the tenant and reduced time and money on behalf of the landlord. After all, happy tenants result in happy landlords.
No Tenant Surprises
In today’s digital age, anyone can tailor his or her Facebook or LinkedIn to reflect a clean, professional image. Fraud and deception are more common than ever, and these are two issues that you want to avoid at all costs. If you’ve had a unit that’s been on the market for quite a while and suddenly you have an interested party trying to move in immediately with all fees and deposits ready to be paid up front, this may seem like a blessing.
However, the last thing you want is to hastily sign the lease only to find out that the tenants have a long history of missed payments and low credit scores. And if a prospective tenant tries negotiating a reduced down payment, this should be another red flag. Property management software provides various options for tenant screening, including services that check credit scores, past payment records, potential conflicts with prior landlords, and any previous felonies or outstanding warrants.
The necessity of screening tenants is a no-brainer, and there is an endless array of issues that can arise if this step is bypassed. At best, you could be bringing in a tenant that cannot pay the rent going forward. At worst, they can’t pay the rent, AND they disrupt the lives of your other tenants while creating a hostile environment within your property. The property you’re renting out is your investment, and just one problematic tenant can cause a huge amount of wasted time and money.
Digital Lease Templates
It is great to solve an array of problems with one solution. Using property management software that includes digital lease templates not only negates the reliance on scanners and fax machines, but also cuts out the cost of consulting with a legal team to design your own customized paperwork. Offering a lease and rider that is customized for the property gives the tenant added confidence and understanding.
Whenever entering into a contract, such as a lease agreement, it’s always best to have the full agreement in writing (as opposed to a verbal agreement). If you conditionally approve tenant(s) to bring a pet, but forget that you used a general lease template that bans all pets, you could end up in a legal dispute if a tenant’s pet causes disruption or damages within the building.
There’s one more specific benefit that we haven’t covered yet: reduced turnover. You already put in the time to engage with a prospective tenant, answer his or her questions, and thoroughly screen him or her. If you have a building full of happy tenants who pay their rent on time, it can be disheartening to go through the same process year after year. Satisfied tenants are a great asset, and building a trusting relationship with them while efficiently addressing their needs is a sure-fire way to reduce turnover.
Because of all the factors that influence turnover, it is a great feeling to know that you’ve covered all your bases as a landlord to ensure the best quality of life for your tenants. An organized, efficient, and empathetic landlord can make all the difference when a tenant is weighing the pros and cons of moving out to a different location. And if your trusting tenants do need to move for one reason or another, you can utilize them as a pipeline for new or alternate properties that you manage.
How Property Management Software Helps Tenants
Peace of Mind
There are undeniable benefits to having immediate access to all of your rental forms. Tenants feel a sense of transparency because they can check the details and nuances of the lease agreement at any time. Have you ever had difficulty getting your full security deposit back at the end of the lease?
Knowing the details related to reimbursement, along with an itemized (or estimated) list of charges for any incurred repairs at the start of the lease can prevent any discrepancies when it’s time to move out. I had a previous landlord who was prepared to withhold $250 for “covering thumbtack holes” in the wall. If I didn’t retain the itemized repair checklist included with the lease, there’s a great chance I would have ended up paying the excess. The lease also usually includes any clauses pertaining to rent increases, which is definitely something you want to have on file.
The Ability to Streamline Your Payments
As much as landlords don’t like chasing down tenants for late payments, it is equally frustrating when your mailed checks get misplaced or arrive late due to errant postage. If your landlord doesn’t live in the building or cannot provide a secure drop box, making your monthly payments on time can be a huge hassle.
Additionally, if you know your landlord is handling a large number of properties, it could take weeks for the check to be cashed, forcing you to diligently navigate your spending while the pending funds are still in your account. The ability to make payments online removes the “he said, she said” ambiguity (and wasted time) that can occur with lost checks.
Efficient Maintenance Requests
One of the most frustrating things for tenants to deal with is slow service when something breaks or stops working. In a worst-case scenario, if you have a pipe break or a drain that is backed up, you need assistance as soon as possible to prevent damage to your belongings and the structural integrity of the building.
Having the ability to digitally submit a claim, along with photographic documentation of the issue (i.e. broken stove, cracked floor, etc.) will expedite the fulfillment of repairs or replacements. Furthermore, no landlord wants to receive calls in the middle of the night because their contractors didn’t follow through on a maintenance request.