Landlords often find themselves wondering how to juggle all the responsibilities that come with managing their rental units.
Keeping track of multiple properties, getting rent on time, and handling requests are all tasks that can become difficult to carry out. Property management (PM) software is a way for landlords to organize every detail and never skip a beat.
Property management software can provide a wide range of qualities that can differ from vendor to vendor. Depending on the specific software, these features are more or less easy-to-use and effective. However, the typical, fundamental functions of a PM software include:
- Accounting abilities: A PM software may file and keep track of expenses, income, bank reconciliation, taxes, and electronic payments. Some software has an online feature that allows for tenants to pay through as well. It will create a set filing system and organize all of the regarding documents. Usually, the accounting functions are built into the software, but can sometimes be implemented through a third party, like QuickBooks.
- Leasing help: PM software can take care of the whole leasing process, from advertising the property to receiving rental applications. The features store and organize all documents, saving landlords lots of paper and time.
- Rental listings: Lots of software usually acts as multiple-listing services, allowing you to post advertisements for your unit(s) to websites like Zillow and Trulia. This makes the marketing process a breeze, attracting attention to your property quickly and efficiently. Some PM software may even create special websites for your property.
- User interface: The software will have a portal or home page for landlords to log in to, allowing them to easily view important documents, share them, and manage rent payments or maintenance requests. This portal will also have an outlet for tenants, where they can make an account for and pay rent, contact the landlord, or submit a work order.
- Maintenance: The maintenance management functions within the software keeps track of all the work orders done on a property. Therefore, the software notifies you of their completion and of pending maintenance requests. There may even be a feature that allows you to hire workers and assign distinct tasks to them.
- Tenant screenings: Getting to know who your prospective tenant is before giving them the keys to the unit is immensely important. That’s why most PM software offers users a general, tenant background screening. They will find address history, criminal records, and credit history. For an additional fee, other vendors will offer a more thorough search for credit scores and past evictions.
- Less work: PM software gets rid of lots of the hassle that comes with managing properties. The software is a solution to all that record-keeping, payment tracking, and maintenance calls.
- Efficient leasing: You can post an ad for your rental unit(s) on multiple platforms easily and quickly. This makes the leasing process so much easier, as you don’t have to make countless accounts or keep writing up your ads. Instead, the software markets your property to all the right people, helping you get the right tenant fast. Not to mention that the screening process will be easier too.
- Fast payments: As mentioned previously, keeping track of rent and getting it paid on-time is usually much easier with a PM software. Because of the various accounting features, PM software can relay important information to you so that you may review income and expenses. Depending on the software, tenants can even pay rent online.
- Better communication: Most software has functions that allow landlords to communicate with their tenants. It’ll be easy to reach out to tenants and for tenants to reach out to you. For instance, a tenant may submit a maintenance request through the software. The software will notify you and can confirm the work order’s progress and completion.
In addition to all of the benefits a PM software can provide, it also raises a few set of challenges that you should be aware of:
- Constant change: PM software is always being updated, tweaked, and transformed. Any kind of software will take a bit of effort on the user’s end, in terms of adapting to the system and learning to navigate it. Not all software provide the same kind of features either, so it can become confusing when you need to use third parties for things like background checks or accounting.
- Tenants’ resistance: Some tenants may have trouble using the software as well, especially if they need to make their rent payments online. Lots of tenants may not be used to the online interface and, in turn, cause you some difficulty. It can be an inconvenience to some, especially if you are in the process of becoming paperless.
- Cost: PM software comes at a price. If you manage a large number of properties, it will be much more expensive than for someone managing only a few. Usually, that is because a landlord with more properties needs more assistance. It’s important to assess what is right for your property. If you don’t need much help, it may not be worth the expense in the end.
- Privacy: A lot of landlords become concerned about putting all of their information into a software. That’s why, when searching for a PM software, security is very important. You should look for credible vendors with the option to store data remotely. That is, if you find that you’re not comfortable with a cloud-based software, it is best to look elsewhere.
What To Consider
Before you go out and purchase a PM software, there are certain factors you should think about. Decide what features you need most and what your priorities are.
- Cost: As previously noted, PM software can be a bit pricey. Make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. You don’t want to be paying extra money for software features that you don’t even need or use.
- Accessibility: You want to make sure that the software makes sense and is easy-to-use. Think about who will use the software and how many people it should be able to support.
- Flexibility: If there is a specific software you are interested in, see whether or not other systems would be compatible. You may need to implement other functions in the future.
- Demonstration: Talk to the vendors to see how exactly their software works. You should try getting a demonstration of the software so you can test it out and decide if it is right for you.
- Research: Get references from the vendors and existing or previous clients. Make sure to ask them questions about any issues with the software and past experiences using it. Ask about the security features too, so as to ensure that all data will be stored safely.