Property management involves juggling many tasks. Managing maintenance requests, tracking rental payments (and non-payments!), signing leases, collecting and reviewing applications, and communicating with tenants are all-too-common and unfortunately, all-too time-consuming. Whether you’ve managed a handful of units for yourself or taken on a larger, professionally managed project, you’re likely well aware of how much hard work property management requires.
And despite what you may hear elsewhere, it will never change – property management is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be. Modern property management software can simplify and automate many of the more menial tasks handled by property managers and their staff, enabling them to focus on things that matter like tenant relationships and driving revenue.
Property management software has existed for quite a while in some form or another. Directly speaking, property management software is any software that assists managers of commercial, residential, and other properties in managing daily and recurring tasks related to property management. For many landlords, that means Excel acts as their property management software.
Others use expensive and sophisticated enterprise-level solutions. Good, modern software can affordably provide a whole host of features in a single platform, including tools to help property managers:
- Communicate with tenants
- Manage maintenance and work orders
- Collect and track rent and expenses
- List properties and screen tenants
- Sign and store documents
Incremental yet continual shifts forward in technology have enabled newer platforms to offer better features for less money. As a result, more and more landlords and property managers are turning to automated property management software solutions to help them better manage their rentals.
Indeed, with some of the free, easy-to-use property management software now on the market, there is little reason not to use it.
But we’re not here for reasons to not do something! Let’s take a look at five of the top ways property management software can help your rental management business today.
Tenant Screening and Application Management
Nearly all landlords require an application of some sort. This can be as simple as a form with the potential tenant’s name and contact info, to a more comprehensive list with full credit, criminal, and eviction history report with pay stubs and identifying information included. This type of full-on tenant screening can be an indispensable tool in finding great tenants, and any landlord worth their salt knows a low maintenance renter that pays their rent on time every month is worth his or her weight in gold. But historically, accessing these tools has been a challenging and expensive process.
Properly storing this documentation in a manner that is compliant with Federal Regulation is a nightmare into itself (to give you some idea, that’s a link to a 100+ page document that covers some of what you need to know).
But modern management tools have completely changed this. It’s easier than ever to access screening tools and manage documentation. Creating a custom application form that’s easy to fill out and submit (does this previous, cumbersome process sound familiar – download pdf, print pdf, fill out pdf, scan pdf, send pdf?) has never been simpler.
Tracking applicants, responding to them, and moving forward with those you like is all handled in a single place. And with the right application and the right reports, you’ll have better tenants in no time.
Online Rent Acceptance
More commonly than ever, tenants request the convenience of online rental payments. In fact, many young renters don’t know how to write a check. If you’re interested in collecting more rent on time, a great place to start is by making it easier for your tenants to pay (and to auto-pay).
But online rental payments aren’t just for tenants – they can be incredibly convenient for landlords as well. No more collecting cash, money orders, etc. and sending constant reminders to tenants. Most property management software will handle all this for you. Tenants can pay by ACH (bank-to-bank transfers) or with a credit or debit card. Late fees are automated, funds are deposited directly into your bank account, and records are instantly and accurately updated.
If you haven’t experienced how much easier collecting rent online can be, do your tenants and yourself a favor and give it a shot.
Communications in Real-Time
Communicating effectively with your tenants is one of the most important responsibilities of a great property manager. If tenants understand their obligations, expectations, and they know that you take your role as landlord or property manager seriously, they’ll be better tenants – it’s that simple! Property management software is an indispensable tool in helping improve communication.
Tenants will be automatically notified of upcoming payments, late rent, changes to their lease, etc. You can also easily send messages for things like maintenance work that needs to be completed, and reminders of upcoming events.
What’s more, your rental management software acts as a repository of all records: communication records, payment records, documents, and rental terms. If you need to demonstrate to a judge or some other authority that a message was sent to a tenant, you’ll have an immutable record of it. And in most cases, your tenants, owners, and all relevant parties will have access to the software, meaning they can look up info as needed and resolve their questions before any communication is even needed. Discrepancies and disputes are a thing of the past!
Smooth Management of Maintenace
Managing maintenance tickets and work orders is one of the biggest hassles for any property manager. Not only does it require that you track what needs to be fixed, but, unless you want your tenants upset with you, it also requires that you respond to them in a timely manner. Managing not just your handy work but also your tenant communication can be both frustrating and difficult. Rental management software, fortunately, can help.
Management software will typically allow tenants to submit maintenance tickets online including pictures, videos, descriptions, and comments where necessary. Those tickets can be assigned to maintenance staff both in your organization and outside of it. Maintenance personnel can record their activities and respond to tenants. And sometimes, quick response to let the tenant know that you’ve received their request and you’re taking it seriously is all they want.
What’s more, by accurately tracking the kind and volume of tickets you’re receiving, you’ll be able to more readily identify problematic trends. Maybe a high volume of your hot-water heaters is breaking sooner than you expected – time to switch to a new brand! You’ll be able to respond more quickly and track more effectively, resulting in easier maintenance management and properties in better condition.
Unified Management of Documents
Robust property management software offers a centralized location to manage documents. Disorganization file cabinets are replaced by cleanly organized digital folders. Storing everything within a single platform gives landlords as well as tenants easy access to every record they need. Invoice records, service requests, resolutions, late payment penalties, lease records, and transaction histories are all in one place. And a simplified organizational structure has many benefits. Unified management of documents allows landlords and managers to close deals faster, adhere to regulations more easily, and better manage due dates.
Like any other industry, there is a wide variety of property management software available to landlords and managers. Some of these are too simple, streamlined, and straightforward, while others offer every feature under the sun. More or less, all provide the benefits listed above and there’s something available for landlords of every type. To remain competitive in the market and to enable more efficient growth as a business and investor, it’s important that even small-to-mid-sized landlords take a long hard look at the benefits of property management software.
For these folks, we recommend a focus on tools that are easy to use and flexible enough to handle their unique requirements. Your software shouldn’t require a great deal of training or technical knowledge. It should simplify your life rather than add to its complexity. It should be easy to deploy and make an immediate, positive impact on your operational efficiency. Better yet, it should be inexpensive.
When deciding on what platform to use, be sure to think carefully about your requirements. Spend some time researching what is available and whether or not it offers the features you need. If you find the right fit, it’ll make all the difference!