Category Archives: Support Team

We told you so! Your online data is NOT SAFE!

Angry Property ManagerThe ink was barely dry on our in depth article on the security of your data before another MAJOR breach happened. (Actually, we type on a screen but if we were using ink, it would still be wet!). The latest is Target, with TENS OF MILLIONS losing their valuable personal and financial information.

Just to name a few besides Target, this year thieves have stolen identities, personal records, passwords, financial information, credit card number, and more from the likes of Gmail, Twitter, Living Social, Barnes and Noble, TJ Max, Marshall’s, Adobe and many, many other companies. How safe do you really think your online data is?

What is your property management company responsible for?   Dos your software keep the  personal information of your owners including names, addresses, phone numbers, email, social security numbers, employers, and more? How about bank account numbers, routing numbers, and passwords? What do you think would happen if all of that private information was exposed to an identity theft ring? Would your cloud-based software company be held responsible, or would you?

And that is just the owners: what about your own company information and your tenant information? A security breach could literally put you out of business overnight. It could take months or even years for the mess to get resolved and there could be legal ramifications as well.

Additionally, if your ‘cloud-based’ software experienced a major data breach, it could easily shut down the whole process to stop the hemorrhaging.  Even if your own data wasn’t compromised, your entire business would be shut down without access to your records. What if they never recovered and went out of business – with your owner, your tenant, and your own data and financial records?

We are hearing daily from customers that are refusing to put their valuable data online, and we share their concerns. Please be aware of what if going on, and make sure ‘at least’ that you use passwords that are not easy to guess, although in our opinion that is a false security – everything can be stolen by savvy crooks. Well, here’s to the next major news story about another security breach. I hope it isn’t you, but at least if you use the Tenant File you have control of your own data!

Think Again Before Putting Confidential Data in the Cloud

Cloud Clip Art

The ‘Cloud’ – it is everywhere – literally. That is what the cloud is … a place to house data spread out over an untold number of computers and servers throughout the world.  About 70% of all Americans use the cloud to some degree. With the multitude of mobile devices, it works wonders. You can access your music and videos everywhere, you can update your calendar in sync with other devices, and you can store your sensitive data there. Wait, maybe not the last one. Here are some serious considerations before you put your confidential data in the cloud.

Rain Cloud Clip Art

Our government wouldn’t pry into my data, would it?  Heard of the NSA? By now, probably all Americans have, and not all of it is good. In fact, some of the news is downright unsettling. Now, with the Patriot Act and the NSA’s interpretation of it, your data on the Internet is less safe. The federal government can now get to your data or your client’s data simply by issuing a subpoena, no court order is needed. On top of that, there is plenty of evidence that government agencies are not even bothering with a subpoena in some cases, as the NSA has admitted that some of its employees have gathered information on their own account.  So if you manage data for your clients, and the NSA has suspicions regarding one of them, your data could be shared with others – client names, Ids, social security numbers, financial transactions, and more.


Backing up Property Manager dataMy data is backed up in the cloud, right?  Sure, there are redundant backups of your data. That means more servers with your information and more avenues for compromising it.  Has your computer ever gone down? Well, so do servers. And when that happens, your data is inaccessible. Maybe there is a hacker attack and the server is shut down for safety reasons, or maybe the electrical grid is compromised, or a natural disaster happens, the list is endless. If you are running your application on the cloud, your business is dead in the water, and your clients have no access to their data. You can’t process any payments, pay bills, or market your business because everything your business does is done online. Maybe someday you can get the data back, but it could be days or weeks to re-enter lost information. Imaging that if your data is lost and there are hundreds or millions of other clients hosted on the same server, how long would it take to get to you?


What happens when they post the ‘Out of Business’ sign?  In the real world, when you do business with a company and they fold, you pick up and find another company. But, what if your entire business is dependent on that company and all of your data is held by that company? What if your log in just stops working and your calls are not returned? You clients will certainly be calling you and demanding answers. You may never recover your data or your client’s data. Your valuable information is suddenly gone, and you will have to start from scratch.


My monthlMonthly payments for real estate companiesy payments are reasonable, is the cloud a good deal?  Certainly it is for the vendors. According to the research firm IDC, 2012 revenues are estimated to be 42 billion dollars and estimates for 2013 are as high as 131 billion, according to Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company. Consumers are used to monthly payments drafted from their bank account, but often don’t realize the eventual cost. For example, property managers that use ‘software as a service’ (SAAS) typically pay an amount per managed property, and a dollar per property is common. So, if you manage 20 rental units, you’ll pay $20.00 month. But that cost is unending, and can go up at the vendors’ discretion. You pay the increase, or else they can switch you off, effectively shutting down your business. Let’s say you pick up management on a 200 unit apartment building.  Your monthly cost skyrockets to $220.00 per month, or $2640.00 per year just to use their software.

Hackers magnifying glass

Can hackers access my data and my customer data?  Computer hacking is at an epidemic level and they are extremely sophisticated. Hackers can attack major web servers to garner information and filter out all of the email address, bank account numbers, and social security numbers. It doesn’t matter is they know the customer name; they have what they need to steal the identities of your customers.  Once your user name and password is obtained, the rest of your data is there for the taking.  It doesn’t have to be a genius hacker in a dark basement in a foreign country. They can be sitting at a table in the same restaurant or coffee shop while you work on a public Wi-Fi network, stealing from your cloud-based transactions if your application does not use secure HTTPS data transfer.


Data outage for property management companyWhat other factors could affect my data?  There are other ways to compromise your data. One way is a malicious ‘denial of service’ where automated systems flood a server to the point that it has to shut down, leaving the customers stranded. In 2011, about 15% of all small businesses were affected by such an interruption, and a whopping 30% of all large businesses were affected. Often those attacks are not reported or even noticed if they are quickly addressed, but other attacks have caused complete outages. Another way that your data could be affected is by natural disasters at the server site, cyber attacks, and electrical grid attacks. While a customer might understand if your business was affected by a fire or hurricane, they might not understand that a server in France could affect their valuable information. If your business was affected, you could take your backups to another computer system, but your cloud data is beyond your control.


Does youTwitter bird realtor down timer provider promise they are online 99.5 percent of the time?  That looks great, who can complain about just a .05 percent downtime? Lots of businesses can, and in fact this is only a promise usually not supported by a ‘guarantee’ that compensates you if it doesn’t work out.  Doing the math you’ll find that the ‘expected’ downtime is 44 hours per year, or 3.6 hours per week that your business can’t operate if it depends on the cloud to run.  However, you will still need to pay all of your employees for that time.


Are we trying to discourage people from using the cloud? No, having access to shared data is fantastic for many applications, especially for sharing videos, pictures, books, text messages, email, non-confidential documents, and a host of apps. Just think twice about committing your business to the cloud, be aware of the pitfalls, and ask the right questions of potential cloud based vendors. Your information and the records of your customers are too valuable to put at risk. Here are some suggestions of what you might ask of your cloud-based vendor if you are considering moving your business to the cloud.

15 Things to ask your cloud computer vendor:

1. Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Tell me about it.

2. Will I be notified of any down time, either planned or unplanned?This to ask cloud computer vendor

3. Will you provide me with my own copy of my data in usable form?

4. Do you sub-contract out my data to a different company or hosting service?

5. Do you use a secure gateway for transfer of data?

6. Is my valuable data encrypted? To what level of security?

7. What compensation would I receive if my data is lost?

8. What level of employee in your company has access to my data?

9. Does your company provide encryption of email addresses to eliminate spam?

10. Is my data kept separated from other companies?

11. If I miss a payment, will my business be cut off?

12. Is my data redundancy stored over multiple geographic locations?

13. What percentage of ‘up-time’ can you guarantee?

14. Is the data that you maintain subject to government inspection?

15. If I switch to another company will I be able to get exported files?

New directions in SEO for Property Mgmt Websites

We’d like to provide some more insight into your SEO needs for your website. At the Tenant File Property Management Software, we realize how busy you are collecting rent, maintaining your rentals, and providing information for your owners. However, you just cannot ignore the importance of keeping your website visible through SEO. But SEO has changed, and you need to be aware of that.

In the ‘old days’ , a large part of SEO meant optimizing your website through keywords place on your site, paying someone to create links to the site, and submitting articles to directories or article sites with links to your home page. If you are still focusing on those techniques, you are probably hurting your Google rankings. Through the Panda and later Penguin algorithm changes, Google has increasingly focused on ‘quality’ and how you are providing a service to the visitors to your site. So ‘selling’ a service has taken a back seat to ‘providing’ a service, and the difference is not as subtle as you may think.  Here are some examples:

  • Google does really care much anymore about the number of links you have coming to your site. It cares about the ‘quality’ of those links. Are you involved in your community? If so, get links from local newspaper websites. Do you have links on real estate sites such as industry associations or property management groups? And don’t direct all of those links to your home page. You need to have other webpages (or landing pages)  focused on the topic that is pointing to it from other pages.
  • In the past you could write an article about your business, fill it with your keywords and publish it to article sites. Now, you must provide content that is good enough for others to want to share it. So your content must not be full of keywords, but should look ‘natural’ and be of value to the reader. They should want to share it via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and other social sites. Google is looking at the number of shares as a part of their evaluation of your importance, or authority, as they call it.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If some is searching for your services, the experts at Google and Bing want to rank those sites that are providing real answers in their field of expertise, not just a company that has hired an SEO company to write content that is just a bunch of words with keywords added. That approach will only serve to make the Internet a more robust provider of real value, and not just reward the business with the more money for SEO. You know your business better than anyone, so take more of a personal involvement in the content you create, interact with industry groups, and write about your involvement in your local community.



Announcing beta for a new Tenant Screening feature!

With our new tenant screening partner, Background Info USA, we have developed a new feature which will save time for Tenant File users. This is the ability to export, save and update the Tenant File with the new applicant information.

When you use the Tenant File tenant screening, you now have the ability to have your applicant fill in their rental application online. The applicant can also pay their application fee and a notice will be emailed to you.  Once you approve the applicant, you can now export their information to a file that you would save in a folder on your computer.  The file is in CSV (comma separated value) format, and is a convenient way to save all of your applicant information in one place.

With the new beta for tenant screening, the Tenant File has created an program that will display all applicants in the folder in a spreadsheet type format, or individually per applicant. When you are ready to move in the applicant into a vacant rental, the Tenant File will automatically transfer the basic applicant information into the program.

If you are interested in trying out this service, please give us a call at 1-800-398-3904, and we will email you the program for free.


The Tenant File Property Management Software


Infographics Help Customers Understand Your Business

TFInfographic-Thumb25You have probably seen them before, but may not know the term – infographics. These are graphic representations of an idea, a concept, an organization, or a help topic. If fact, similar graphics have been in widespread use forever, but today’s infographic follows a loose format that includes colors, cartoon characters, symbols, charts, and other design tools to make a concept more understandable.

The Tenant File has an infographic at This infographic is designed to help the viewer to understand the broad picture of what the Tenant File provides. A picture is truly worth a thousands words. At one glance, you can see how the various modules interact with the main program. Plus, there is other information in the form of a bar graph that provides interesting information about the Tenant File rental management software as well.

You can take advantage of this to promote your business. Your customers are more likely to click on an email link or website link if they can see a colorful graphic. The infographic in this blog was created by a free infographic designer called Piktochart. The free version will display their logo and link at the bottom of the infographic.

Some suggestions for use would be a display of your company employees, your mission statement, or the areas that you serve. Don’t be too serious with the text or the symbols.  It is meant to be a fun way to learn and to provide valuable information to your clients. If you also create a link to your website it can additionally help with the SEO of your site. Or, you can send it out with your emails.

Have fun and provide a service to your customers at the same time!




Use the built-in Reminder System to it’s fullest!

The Tenant File Reminder System is an easy to use feature that is flexible enough for any property manager. It combines the most critical items into one compact screen, and gives you the ability to choose exactly what you want to see. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see the On/Off check boxes, which enable you to choose any or all of the available reminders to show up each time you enter the Tenant File program.

Tenant File Reminder System

There are 2 basic types of reminders. Every Owner, Property, Unit, Tenant, and Vendors has a button so that you can add reminders easily.

  • To Do
    These reminders have an ‘action date’. So whenever you have a date in the future that requires you to take some action, you should use these. This might include repairs to be done, vacation dates, or rent increases – whatever you want to use it for.
  • Event
    Unlike the ‘To Do’ reminders, the ‘Event’ reminders just log something for your records, and there is no action date in the future. For example, if a tenant calls to complain about the neighbor’s noise, you’ll want to keep a record of the complaint.

Is is easy to sort your reminders various ways, using the ‘Sort By‘ choices on the right side.

The ‘Date Range to Show‘ gives you the ability to choose how far ahead you want to be reminded. For example you might want to see reminders 30 days ahead of the ‘action date’ or some other period of time. Additionally, if you want to see all reminders in the entire system, just click on the ‘Show all Reminders‘ button. This is a good way to see if you have any old reminders that you want to delete.

Besides the standard reminders, there are also several helpful other built-in reminders. You can choose to see any tenants that have balances due, you can view tenants with leases that are about to expire (through any date), you can view owners that owe you funds, or you can view owners that have a credit and need to be paid.

As you use the On/Off boxes to choose what you want to see, the screen is adjusted so that you can see more of the remaining choices without having to scroll. To turn the entire Reminder System off, simply remove all of the check marks. As you can see, the Tenant File Reminder System is well laid out, and was designed to give the busy property manager the most information in the smallest amount of space. Couple that with the ease of use and this reminder system will save your company time and effort to get the information you need quickly.

The Reminder System is versatile and powerful!

Vacation rentals with the Tenant File?

We sometimspecial rent postinges get questions as to whether the Tenant File can be used to track vacation rentals. The answer is a qualified yes! While the main thrust of the Tenant File Property Management Software is for long term rentals and commercial property, you can certainly use it for your vacation homes. We don’t recommend this if you are a large vacation rental company, but if you have a few vacations homes, the Tenant File will fit right in.

To accommodate weekly, bi-weekly, or even daily rentals, we created the ‘Special Rent Charges’ menu (Posting > Special Rent Charges). This allows for you to set up a rent charge to be posted every ‘x’ number of days automatically. The caveat is that if you are using the Special Rent Posting to post rents automatically, you’ll also need to post your other (monthly) rents automatically, too. That just makTenant File Scheduleres sense, and you won’t have to worry that something doesn’t get posted. The rent charge transactions will just show up in you ledgers automatically, based on the due date or the special rent date.

In addition to the ‘Special Rent Posting’, there is also a ‘Scheduler’ in the Tenant File program (Miscellaneous > Scheduler). This scheduler allows for you to ‘book’ dates, similar to a simple reservation system. You are able to block out a certain number of dates on a calendar. Each booking has an entry date, action date, starting date, ending date, detailed memo field, and 5 separate entry fields.

The 5 entry fields would typically be used for the guest name, phone numbers, email, and other similar items. The memo field would be used for any other notes you need to make. Whenever you choose a specific rental property, you’ll see the booked dates in bold on the calendar.

While the Scheduler can be used for booking as described above, you can use it for anything. For example, if you need to block out a range of dates when the property will be under repair, or a vacation for a tenant, you can do that as well. It is up to you. Since this is part of the built-in Reminder System of the Tenant File, you can use the ‘Action Date’ to be reminded of an upcoming event, or the date that a guest needs to be contacted concerning their reservation.

Some features like this are overlooked by users of the Tenant File, but if used properly they can save you time and effort by not having to maintain a schedule elsewhere. Just use your imagination to get the most possible out of it.



We would like your suggestions to improve

Barn Scene

At Tenant File we are busy working on the next major release. As always, we first ask our current users what they would like to see in the next release of the program. So now is the time to let us know the features you want in the Tenant File software. We’ll be adding new reports to help with audits, adding the ability to save settings on various screens, increasing the number of available checking accounts, adding new automated features and much more.

Our programmers have already starting make the changes that we think will improve the ease of use for our customers, and we’ve already received a large number of ideas and suggestions from you already.  If there is anything that you think will serve everyone better, we are anxious to hear from you!

Don’t forget to take advantage of your free listing in the Real Estate Available website, and to sign up for the RentalWIZ program, which gives you a free web page for vacancy listings and syndicates your vacant rental property throughout the Internet! Get more information by CLICKING HERE.

We hope that all of you have a happy and prosperous New Year 2013! Let us know what we can do to make it better!

A Free Listing for your Company

Compliments of the Tenant File, and exclusive for Tenant File customers, we are offering a free listing on our Zillow powered site This site is for real estate ‘sales’ only, and is becoming popular for anyone looking for their dream home. We ask that you help us out with a review or a ‘like’ on Facebook, but that is not a requirement. We just need your information to post for your particular state.

To get your listing, visit:


The Tenant File Staff

Tenant File announces new Partner Program

Tenant File LogoThe Tenant  File Property Management Software is announcing a new Partner Program for current Tenant File users. In an effort to expand our social media reach, we are offering incentives to join us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. In return for joining our network, promoting the product, or reviewing the software, Tenant File customers will be able to receive discounts on current products, receive extended support,  free listings on property management and sales listing websites and more. This promotion is kicking off December 20th and will last through the end of January 2013.  See our website at for details, or call us at 1-800-398-3904.