It makes perfect sense that the internet is inundated with discussions about the best property management tools for landlords. The opportunity to take renting from a side gig to a constant cash flow is the reason real estate investment is so appealing. It’s also why so many people are seeking a way to make renting easier.
Before taking the leap, landlords generally have two questions:
1.) How do I take this from a hobby to a legitimate business?
2.) Do I need to hire a property manager?
If you have more than 5 properties (or live far away from your units), hiring a property manager might be a good idea. However, if you’re only working with a few rentals, using an online property management software can be the stepping stone you need to up your rental game.
5 Free Property Management Tools every landlord should use:
A rent calculator
Determining what to charge for rent is a question most property managers will face. Many newer property managers simply guess a price that feels right with no further research, DON’T do that. Charging too much could lead to a loss of revenue by keeping your property vacant for months while charging too little could amount to a large loss of profit over time. Rental calculators will help you get a feel for what’s a fair price in the area to help you find that sweet spot.
Harnessing the power of data will also back you up when rent increases and you want to charge more to rent.
An online rent payment platform
Typically, the most tedious part of being a landlord is collecting rent. Between gathering rent checks, printing and handing out late rent reminders, and driving to the bank to deposit checks (and hoping none of them bounce), it’s a huge time-suck.
Yet going through the process every single month is something most landlords have accepted as part of the job. To really get to the next level, it’s time to switch over to an online payment tool. Pick one that will deposit rent in your account quickly, charge automatic late fees, and send tenants digital reminders.
Rentler’s online rent payment service allows landlords to collect rent online for free and also allows tenants to build credit for free with each on-time rent payment; which can be a bonus marketing angle for you when you’re trying to fill vacancies.
Property maintenance software
An effective maintenance system is the key to retaining tenants. Problems will arise, but as long as you take care of the issue and keep an open line of communication tenants are going to be happy. Happy tenants are long-term tenants. Having a trusted team that you can call for emergency fixes is crucial, but how you handle the actual documentation of a maintenance request is also important for legal and tax purposes.
A good property maintenance software should do four things:
- Time-stamp and save all requests. Avoid legal issues and conflicting information by saving all your maintenance requests in one place.
- Set priority level. This will help you filter out emergencies and get to them quickly.
- Show a status. A real-time ‘pending’ or ‘completed’ status update will let tenants know their issue is being worked on, without having to text or email you round the clock.
- Let you upload pictures and documents. The ability to show pictures of the issue can help landlords determine how serious the issue is. In addition, the ability for tenants or landlords to attach receipts makes communication seamless and accounting easy.
Property inspection app
Even if you had your property inspected when you purchased it, move-in/move-out inspections can save you from unexpected repair expenses. You should always hire a pro for initial property inspections, but mobile apps are a great alternative for move-out inspections.
Mobile property inspection tools let you walk through an inspection checklist on your phone and take photos. Once your inspection report is created, you can store it digitally until you need it. It’s an easy way to reduce overhead and prevent future losses.
A document manager
Time-stamping and filing all documents related to your rentals is crucial for landlords who are interested in following Fair Housing laws (aka everyone). Instead of keeping paper copies, make your life easier by switching over to digital leases, move-in/move-out checklists, and eviction notices. We recommend finding a property management software with digital archiving (like this one). However, scanning and uploading your docs into iCloud or Google Drive can be a good temporary solution for landlords who only have a few papers to keep track of.