Category Archives: New User Questions

Tips and Tricks – Check for Invalid Dates

Invalid transaction dates within your ledgers can cause the balance of the individual ledger along with the overall owner balance to be incorrect.  Most reports within the Tenant File are created by entering a date range.  The ledgers, however, take into account all transactions posted within the ledger even if the date was entered incorrectly.  For example, if while entering a transaction with a transaction date of 01/01/2018, incorrect data was entered making the ‘date field’ display a date of 01/01/2001, that entry would re-sort in the ledger grid and you may not see the entry yet the balance would be affected.

If you feel that an individual ledger or Owner balance is incorrect, one thing to check would be to see if there were invalid transaction dates entered in your system.  Within the program, there is an easy way to view a report showing all transactions by date.   This report, called the ‘Trust Report’, can be viewed by clicking into REPORTS > GENERAL REPORTS > TRUST REPORT > Enter a date range and click to ‘Print’ the report to screen.    If, for example, you completed a ‘Year End Closing’  through the end of 2017 and you only have transactions showing for 2018, you may choose to create a ‘Trust Report’ with a ‘Starting Date’ of 01/01/0100 and an ending date of 12/31/2017 to determine if by chance there are entries entered prior to 2018.

A few things to note…

If you have transactions in the system prior to the year 1900 by mistake, those transactions will affect the balance but will not show up on your screen.  That is why we suggest that the Starting Date on the report be entered as 01/01/0100.

If you are creating this report, please note that the information will include all transactions within the given date range.  We suggest that you display the report to screen rather than directly to the printer to prevent a large number of pages to be printed.

If you find that you have transactions in your system with dates that were incorrectly entered, you would need to print that portion of the report and correct your entries.  If the dates are prior to the year 1900, you would need to run the Database Maintenance procedure found under FILE > DATABASE MAINTENANCE > CHECK FOR LINK PROBLEMS.

As always, prior to making any major changes to your ledgers, we highly suggest that you make a backup of your main database file called ‘TFDATAFL.MDB’.

Thank you!

Tips and Tricks – Backup Your Tenant File

Our first tip is of course to remind our users to BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP.   Most of the following information can also be found in the Tenant File online Use’s Guider (found under HELP > USER’S GUIDE from your Main Menu).  We highly suggest that you create multiple folders on your external drive, flash drive, memory stick, etc. (even if you also backup to your hard drive).

As shown on the example below, if you plan on backing up once a week, you would name the folders ‘Week 1’, ‘Week 2’, ‘Week 3’, Week 4 and ‘Week 5’.  It is very important that you always alternate the folders when you run the Backup procedure so that you do not over-write your last backup.

The Tenant File has a simple ‘Copy’ and ‘Restore’ feature for basic file copy to a CD, DVD, another drive, hard disk or network computer. This feature is intended to be a supplement to a full-featured backup system, which usually comes with Windows.

However, the Tenant File can quickly copy your data files, explains what each file contains, and is recommended as a routine backup. Your computer must be enabled for DLA (drive letter access), which lets you copy from a file to a lettered drive.

To access the feature to backup your database files (files that end with ‘.mdb’) and your data files (files that end with ‘.dat’), click onto the BACKUPS button from the Main Menu.  Once you are on the Backups screen, click on a file to see a description of the file and the file size, so you can be sure there is enough room on the destination location.

Tenant File Backup ScreenChoose Action – To copy files to another location, choose ‘Copy file(s) TO’. If you have already made a previous copy and wish to restore to your current program, choose ‘Restore file(s) FROM’. Be VERY careful ‘Restoring’ files, since this will OVERWRITE your existing Tenant File information! A better choice to see your old data would be to install the Tenant File on a different computer and restore the information into that installation instead.

Copy to (or Restore from) Drive/Folder – To copy your database files TO another location (Backing up), this will select the location that you are copying ‘TO’. If you are copying FROM another location (Restoring), this will select the location that you are copying ‘FROM’.

Copy What Type – Choose either database files (MDB) or data files (DAT). The three main database files that contain all of your data are: FEATURES.MDB (which contains information on each unit, such as interior, exterior, etc.), TFDATAOF.MDB (your inactive files), and TFDATAFL.MDB (the MAIN database with the majority of all information). All of the files that end with the DAT extension contain information such as report settings, company information, and other important data.

To begin the Copy’ function, simply highlight the files of your choice under ‘Choose Files to COPY’, select ‘Copy File(s) TO’  under ‘Choose Action’, select either ‘Database Files (.mdb)’ or ‘Data Files (.dat) under ‘Copy What Type of Files’, select the drive or folder that you want to copy to under ‘Copy to’ Drive/Folder’ and select the button ‘Start Copy/Restore NOW’.  The program will default to your current drive so you must ALWAYS change the location to a different drive or folder to copy to.  The selection under ‘Choose files to COPY’  is dependent upon whether you want to copy the ‘Database Files’ or the ‘Data Files’.  These two must be done separately.

How often do you want to be reminded to backup?  This option will keep a record of your last backup and let you know when it is time to backup your files. We recommend that you use this option to backup at least once a week. We also suggest that you set up separate weekly and monthly folders for your backups so that you don’t always overwrite your last backup with a new backup. (If you database corrupts, you might accidentally overwrite your last good backup!)

Be very careful with the process of ‘Copying files to’ and ‘Restoring files from’ because this action is non-reversible. 

Caution: If you are on a network, do not attempt to copy or restore files while other users are in the Tenant File.   It will cause your database to become corrupted.  Make sure ALL users have closed the program before continuing.

The Expert Guide to Landlord Rental Insurance

Couple at new Rental PropertyThere are many ways that people get into rental property. Maybe you are an investor looking for a great way to have recurring income while building equity. Or possibly you were caught in the housing crisis a decade ago and decided to rent because you couldn’t sell. Others may have decided to downsize and rent to provide extra income.

Why not? Right now, interest rates are low and the stock market is doing well. So, maybe it is the right time for you to consider purchasing a rental property to provide great income for you in the future. In fact, many are doing just that, and the rental market is rising while home ownership is falling.

Now there are even more avenues to own rental property. Because of Airbnb and other vacation or travel rental services, you can rent all or part of your own house. With these opportunities come risks that you should be aware of. By taking on short term rentals, you are creating a new business, and you are also accepting the liabilities.

In any case, many landlords assume that their homeowner’s insurance will cover their rental property. That assumption could end up being very costly. Your insurance could completely deny your claim if they determine that you are acting as a landlord and didn’t switch to landlord coverage. However, we have put together the information that a landlord needs to know about getting landlord rental insurance for a rental property.

Two women going over landlord insurance pollicy

Getting Started: Finding a Good Policy

You should call your insurance company that provides your homeowner’s insurance, but be aware they may not even cover insurance on rental property. Some insurance companies see rental property as a higher risk, so you can expect a higher rate if they cover your property at all. The designated use of your property may change from personal use to commercial use, which involves an entirely different set of costs and liabilities.

This is especially true if you are still keeping your existing homeowner’s policy and renting out your home. You’ll need to read the fine print of the policy. You may find that your policy will not cover damages or losses if the property is not occupied by the owner, as in the case of long or short term tenants.

There may also be limitations to the length of time the property is rented. Some H/O policies may cover non-owner stays, but only up to a pre-set number of weeks. Others may require that you notify the insurance company if it is not going to be owner occupied for a while in order to cover the occupants.

Lastly, there may be limitations on the number of people that are considered ‘renters’. One policy that we looked at would only cover an owner occupied home with 2 additional renters. If you are constantly renting a property out to different tenants, it might be considered a vacation home business, and you could be required to have a license to do business in your city. Not having the proper license could affect the coverage on your insurance policy.

landlord repair for insurance

What about AirBnb and the other short term rental companies?

Yes, AirBnb now includes protection for you as a landlord, and right now that is just part of the arrangement, meaning no cost to you. That includes insurance for your renters getting accidentally injured on your property, but generally does not cover things they steal from your home.

HomeAway also offers insurance protection, but there is an extra cost for that. It covers damages to your property up to 5k with no deductible at the time of this writing.

Personally, I would not recommend depending on this coverage alone. There could be delays in getting paid if there are conflicting claims and you would have more piece of mind if you had a solid landlord insurance plan.

What is different about landlord policies?

Typically, landlord policies (or dwelling policies) are available in three different options:

  1. The least expensive type is DP-1. It covers only basic risks. Most likely, those would include theft and vandalism of the property. Typically this type of policy covers ‘actual cash value’, not ‘replacement value’. More on this later.
  2. The DP-2 policy adds more coverage, to include such things as windstorm damage, vandalism or fire. These are ‘named perils’ so you need to carefully determine what is ‘not’ mentioned as being covered.
  3. The most expensive and most comprehensive type of policy is the DP-3 policy, which covers all perils unless the policy expressly states that it is not covered. This is the closest to a good homeowner’s policy and most often covers full replacement costs.

Note: Be careful that you understand the differences in replacement or cash value, because it can have a big impact on you financially. A policy that only pays out ‘cash value’ will take the depreciated value into consideration, not the actual amount that you have to pay to replace the property or repair the damage.

One additional thing to consider is that your expenses for a landlord policy are most likely tax deductible, so check with your accountant and take advantage of it.

What about the rental income that I’m losing during a claim?

Just like having a vacant property, you might end up with an uninhabitable property. But your mortgage payments are still due, so it is a good idea to be covered for loss of rental income as well. This is a worthwhile insurance investment and might not raise the price as much as you would think.

What can I add on to the policy?

Of course, you can also protect other things. The most important thing is probably liability if your tenant gets injured. You could be accused of being responsible for that injury, and without liability coverage, you could be financially ruined. As a landlord, you also need to take your own initiative to make sure that your property is safe for the tenant. Be sure that everything is in compliance with the building codes, in good condition, and that you attend to maintenance issues promptly.

You might have other structures on your rental property, such as sheds, separate garages, or workshops. Be sure that your policy includes these as part of the main policy or additions to it.

Consider if you have other large equipment that is kept at the rental, such as hot tubs, riding lawn mowers, snow blowers, tillers, or tools. It is a good idea to cover these items under ‘personal property’ at the rental. Also, be sure that you don’t leave the keys around for the tenants to use the equipment unless you are absolutely sure that you are protected against any accidents they may have.

If your property is damaged, you may have to cope with ever-changing building code compliance. For a small extra fee, you can be covered for the cost of having to add additional ventilation, electrical wiring or other safety related items.

What is generally excluded?

Sometimes you may find that renting out ‘part’ of your owner-occupied home cannot be covered with a landlord policy. However, as mentioned previously, you may still be able to get coverage from the rental service.

Your tenant’s possessions are generally not covered, which is why you should require long term tenants to have renter’s insurance. That will cover their own possessions and possibly protect them from liability if one their guests get hurt in their rental. If the tenants are using your own furniture, you should consider getting additional insurance coverage that will cover your carpets and furniture in case of damage.

Wear and tear and maintenance issues are generally not covered. This would include such things as A/C units, heaters, dishwashers, disposals, refrigerators, and the like. So make sure that your tenants take good care of these items, and that they are instructed as to their proper care and operation.

Flood coverage, like your homeowner’s policy is generally going to be a rider on your policy. While the basic policy may cover the damage from damaged water heaters and broken pipes, they won’t cover damage from natural disasters (think hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes), flooding, and sewage backups. You’ll have to add that on. This is especially true if your rental is in a flood plain, you should have flood coverage, but there are still good reasons to have it even if you are not.

Vacant property may not be covered if it has been vacant for a certain period of time. Be sure to check this item on your policy, because it might affect if a claim will be paid on a vacant rental property.

rental home

This all sounds very expensive to get proper coverage …

Well, yes, it is more expensive, but a necessary evil. According to recent data, a good landlord insurance policy can cost 15 – 30 percent more than a similar homeowner’s policy.        The insurance companies see renters as being riskier than owners of a property which have more of a vested interest in taking good care of the property. You can alter the coverage amounts to save money, such as the cap on liability coverage or medical coverage.

Your costs for insurance a determined by a number of factors, such as the ones here:

  • The proximity to areas that are prone to natural disasters, such as the coasts for hurricanes, the tornado prone areas, and areas that are in danger of loss from forest fires.
  • The amount of crime that is committed in your area. If the crime rate is high (think break-ins, assaults, and vandalism) you can logically expect to pay a higher rate than a rental home in a senior living area.
  • The construction of the home. Like all insurance policies, homes that are more susceptible to fire, animal or insect damage will cost more to insure.
  • The proximity to emergency services and items like nearby fire hydrants. Of course, a very rural area might be in greater danger from fire or flood if the emergency services cannot get to it quickly.
  • The square footage of your rental property and other structures that the tenants have access to.
  • The age and condition of your property will affect your rate. Even if the property is newer, you can pay more if it is run-down.
  • Safety devices, such as indoor sprinkler systems and fire alarms will reduce the cost of your policy, so don’t forget to mention those things.
  • If you require your tenants to follow safety rules, such as no smoking or limits to the number and duration of guests, it could help reduce the costs of your landlord policy.
  • If you have a pool or hot tub, it will increase the cost of the policy. You have additional liability needs if you provide such items to your tenants.
  • And of course, if you have additional rentals, or if you have coverage with the same company for auto, boat, or health, you can get a discount.

The bottom line

If you are renting out an entire home or have renters in and out of even a partial property, you definitely need to have landlord insurance. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover your needs as a landlord, and you might even find out that your claim is denied because you were running a business without switching to landlord coverage. The pricing is flexible depending on the factors listed in this article, and the amount of premium vs. deductible that you are willing to pay.

We hope this article has been informative for you. We have a lot more advice for landlords and property managers in our eBook “What ALL Landlords REALLY Need to KNOW”, so please get a copy.

About the author:

Wayne GathrightWayne Gathright has over 20 years experience in the rental property industry as a software developer, consultant, author, and mentor. He’s working with thousands of property managers and tenants, helping to formulate a better understanding of how to create and maintain better relationships between landlords and renters.




Renter’s Insurance Through Tenant File – It is Critical

We’ve had an overwhelming response by property managers wanting to make sure their tenants are covered with renters insurance!

Now, we’d like to provide you with a sample letter that you can use (or edit) in a mailout:

Dear Residents, 

One of the requirements of your lease is that you must maintain personal liability insurance. The most common way to do this is with a renters insurance policy.

The landlord is not responsible for any damages to your personal property arising from fires, leaks, and other unforeseen events. A renters insurance policy generally will include personal property coverage to protect your belongings. This is an important component of your lease and failure to maintain the required coverage will be consider

ed a breach of the lease and is subject to any and all legal remedies.

If you do not have coverage, please reach out to an insurance provider or visit to get covered. The process is quick and hassle-free.


* Remember, you can send this email out through the Tenant File Program under the ‘Miscellaneous > Easy Email’ selection.


For more information, click here

SureApp Insurance Graphic - Tenant File

* Renters Insurance is covered through a partnership with Sure. With Sure and their wide partner network including Nationwide, landlords and property managers can provide their tenants with a way to get comprehensive coverage from vetted, reliable partners at the best price — all in one, easy-to-use online app for computers,  iPhone and Android devices.

Questions? Call us at 1-800-398-3904

Property Management Software Developments

Property Management Software Developments As computers, tablets, and phones change rapidly, there are also a lot of property management software developments

Not only does modern technology produce more innovations at a more rapid pace than ever before, it also produces improvements to these innovations at an even more rapid pace. For example, it was only within the last decade that smart phones became a crucial part of our lives. While it may be awhile before something replaces the smart phone as it basically exists today, there is a new incarnation of the smart phone every few years. This rapid development also occurs in the software sector, and property management software is no exception. While property managers, landlords and tenants have only used property management software on a widespread basis for a decade or so, software developments occur frequently. What are the specific areas of this software that are being upgraded? Here is a look at a few areas of focus for property management software innovators.

Easier To Use

Of course, any technological innovator is going to strive to make their technology easier to use. Property management software developers have succeeded in making their software easier to use for both tenants and landlords. The most recent property management software is more user-friendly than ever before. For example, it allows rent payments to be scheduled transferred automatically from bank account to bank account. This is an obvious improvement over the old-fashioned method of hand-writing and mailing checks, but also an improvement over previous incarnations of software that required a tenant to enter credit card information each time they needed to make a payment.

More Options

Another way tech innovators seek to improve their products is by adding new features and options. This is also true of property management software developers. In recent years, for example, software has developed to the point where managers can run automatic tenant screenings via partnerships with credit reporting companies. Because these software companies and developers are working directly with experienced property managers, they are continually finding new ways to make their businesses more efficient.

How The Internet Has Affected Renting Apartments

Renting Apartments with Tenant File

Renting Apartments in the Internet Era

The internet has affected nearly all of us in both our personal and professional lives. Some of these areas get more attention than others. Everyone acknowledges, for example, that the internet has dramatically affected the way we shop, the way we bank and the way we communicate. Another area of our life that has certainly been altered by the internet, though perhaps it receives less attention than the other areas previously mentioned, is when it comes time to rent an apartment. The internet has changed the process of renting an apartment both personally for those who rent and professionally for landlords and property managers. Here is a quick look at the brave new world of apartment hunting.


More than ever, tenants are using rental apps to hunt for and procure the perfect apartment. A process that used to take many weeks of circling ads in newspapers and calling properties and landlords to check availability is now whittled down to a quick search on a rental app. These rental apps allow apartment hunters to filter by price range, location and many other factors, making the entire process more efficient.


Landlords have also been the beneficiaries of technology’s incursion into the apartment rental process. Many tech-savvy landlords are taking advantage of apartment management software to manage their properties and tenants. This software allows landlords and property managers to both store data and then communicate the data via email to current and prospective tenants. This property management software has never been easier to use. Among the features that are common to these software packages are full email systems, work order systems, tenant files, monthly checklists, built in backup features, point and click reports and word processing options. This software also allows landlords and tenants to send money from bank account to bank account, making the payment process easier for both parties.

Keep Your Tenants Satisfied

Tenant File Blog - Two GirlsShame on you, that is not what this means! As a landlord, you want happy tenants, right? Here are some suggestions on how to do that:

  • Stay up with new technology

One of the best ways to impress your tenants, is to show them that you care about their convenience. To do that, check out the new technologies that are available. Some of those technologies include intelligent door locks that can be programmed and operated from a smart phone. This can also increase security and enable you to change lock combinations easier and faster. Other things that can be controlled by smart phones are thermostats, security systems, and irrigation systems.

  • Build a community

Encourage your tenants to engage with one another. You’ll find that building a tenant community will foster better communication between your tenants and your role as a landlord. For example,  sponsor a pool party in the summer, or holiday events during the winter. Send a communication out to all tenants, and hold a ‘Tenants Night Out’ just for them to get to know each other better. That will help create a family atmosphere where everyone will look out for everyone else.

  • Add amenities

Think outside of the box when thinking about amenities that you can offer to your tenants. What about a bike sharing service for your apartment building? Talk to local yoga studios about offering classes in your exercise room once a week. Add motion controlled lighting and walkway lighting for your your rental.  You can think of more creative ideas to keep your tenants pleasantly surprised.

  • Treat them with respect

This seems obvious, but one of the most common complaints from tenants is that they are treated like second-class citizens by their landlord. We know you are under a lot of pressure – owner demands, late contractors, late rent, bills due … but remember to always deal with your tenants in a calm and respectful manner.

  • Follow through

When a tenants requests anything, first let them know that you received the request, either by text or email. Give them an estimated date, take action promptly, and after it is over, contact the tenant to see if they are happy with the result. This will build trust that will go a very long way.

We hope these suggestions have been helpful to you as a landlord. Keeping your tenants satisfied will result in a long term partnership that will benefit you financially and as a person.

Five Killer Late Fee Collection Tips

rent collection with property manager and tenant

Rent collection can be less of a hassle if you follow these simple steps:

Start Early

The best way to not have to worry about collecting late fees from your tenants is to avoid them in the first place. Because a tenant has a great personality, regularly goes to church, or is a distant cousin doesn’t mean they won’t fail to pay the rent on time. So don’t skip the tenant screening to find out how well the prospective tenant paid his last landlord.

Make it clear, make it tough

One of the best deterrents to avoiding late rent is to have a policy that is clearly stated in the lease. Outline when the rent is due, when it is late, what is the late fee, when does it start, and what actions you will take if the rent check bounces. Be sure to include any exceptions, such as an allowance for holidays and let the prospective know that no other exceptions will be made other than the ones outlined in the lease.

Reward good behavior

Sometimes incentives can work just as well as deterrents for rent collection. Consider including an incentive in your lease that rewards the tenant for paying on time for a year, and include the reward if the tenant renews the lease for another year.

Don’t feed the habit

Of course, there may be understandable reasons that you would break your own rules as in the case of the death an immediate family member, but don’t fall for unsubstantiated excuses .Once you have allowed a late rent without penalty, your tenant may try to get away with it a second or third time. Other tenants may even hear about the exception and try it themselves. Be firm and require the reason in writing.

Heed the warning signs

You might get a call a few days early saying that work is slow, or financial problems are adding up. This is a red flag moment. You might want to suggest that your tenant shouldn’t add to their problems by getting a bad mark on his (or her) credit score by having a late rent added. That statement alone might avoid a late rent situation. The call may be just to ‘feel out’ how firm you will be about the late charge and further action, so be sure to state that you will follow the terms of the lease contract.

If nothing else works for rent collection, you might need to post a ‘Notice to Pay or Quit’ telling the tenant that legal options will be enforced unless rent is paid immediately. Hopefully, you won’t have to evict, but the tenant will be well aware of the inevitable consequences of their actions.

Walk it Out – How to Successfully Conduct Your Walk-Through

We recently talked about the importance of providing a move out checklist for your tenant, and how much easier it’ll make the process for the both of you. Once your tenant is all moved out and the property is empty, the next step on your agenda is to conduct the walk-through.

The walk-through is a very important step in the process because it allows you to assess the condition that your property was left in and determine what your previous tenant is liable for. When conducting the walk-through, you should take a record of what damages and/or issues the tenant may have noticed when first moving in, a report of any maintenance problems they may have had while living there, and the move-out checklist that they completed for you. You may want to consider making a chart where you can document all of these things so as to avoid having to be going back and forth.

The first thing you should pay attention to when doing the walk-through is whether or not your previous tenant did everything that they were responsible for. Look at the checklist and make sure that everything on it is done, because are the things that your tenant was held fully liable for. If something hasn’t been done, make note of it so that you can see if it will need to come out of their security deposit or if you will need to charge them additional for it.

Once you’ve determined what the tenant is still responsible for, look at reports of existing issues, and maintenance problems that may have come up while your tenant was living there. This way, you’ll be able to see if any problems still exist and if repairs held up well. You can then determine was needs to be fixed or replaced before the next tenant moves in.

Moving Out

Moving out can be pretty hectic for both you and your tenants, but it can be made easier! Giving your tenant a checklist for them to follow makes the moving process way simpler. There won’t be any confusion on either end about how things need to be left or what steps the tenant needs to follow. This also helps if something isn’t left as it should be, because you can bring up the checklist to show them exactly what you had expected from them.

What kinds of things should you include on the checklist? The first step is telling them when they need to notify you of their official move-out date, so that you can schedule an inspection after that date. Beyond that, make it clear if they need to re-paint anything that they may have changed from it’s original color, maybe walls, or doors. The checklist should highlight that everything needs to clean, basically returned the way the home was first presented. It’s also very important to make sure that you make it clear on the checklist to have them remove all of their belongings and any trash that may be around the home. Your tenants need to ensure that everything is disposed of and that trash isn’t left around for days.

Your tenant will benefit from this too because they’ll be more likely to get most of their security deposit back once the entire process in completed. If they do everything on the list, you can return them their deposit and save yourself the time and money of doing everything that was needed to be done. If any additional repairs need to be done, use the money from the deposit, and if that doesn’t cover it, you will need to bill your tenant.