Tag Archives: rental software

Common Sense Property Management Software

Property Manager WorkingCommon Sense Property Management Software

I hear all the time the comment, “I thought my previous software was going to make my life easier, but it just gave me more frustration”. Property management is hard enough by itself without having to struggle with slow software, missing data, constant questions, and a difficult learning curve. We hear from rental property owners every day that are still using spreadsheets to manage their property, or they have purchased a program that is way more than they actually need.

Make sure it works the same way you do

First, if you can’t try out the software before you buy it, run the other way! That is the only way you can be sure it is right for you. When you do try the software, start with one task, such as “I want to charge rent to my tenants”. Then, see how long that task takes. If it is more than 10 seconds, it is too long, even if you have hundreds of rentals. Better yet, look for an option to charge rent automatically without user intervention.

How about this? “I want to update the tenant’s rent amount, and then correct an amount that I accidentally posted to the tenant’s accounting”. Many programs make you navigate to multiple menus to do seemingly easy common sense tasks, so make sure it is easy to correct mistakes.

Other things you might want to look for would be the ability to automatically increase rents on a specific date in the future, the ability to either print checks or transfer via ACH, receive rent online, a way to make automatic payments, and a vendor file that keeps important information on all of the vendors that you work with.

Common sense extras that you might look for would be a reminder system for Owners, Tenants, and Vendors, and a scheduler to help keep track of upcoming repairs, vacations, and notices. You might want to use the reminder to keep track of tenant birthdays so that you can maintain a good relationship with your tenants.

Keep your valuable data with someone you trust – you!

If you keep your own information, it will be safer. Find a program that allows you to make a local backup of your valuable data quickly and easily. It should be as simple as clicking a ‘backup’ button then pressing ‘go’. If not, maybe that software is not for you. Some users prefer web based software, so if that is you, be sure that you can download your important data, and that your valuable information is encrypted and stored on servers with redundant backups. Even then, you could be at risk of a hacker attack that could shut down the servers, so you might consider on-premise software if that is a concern.

Don’t get more or less than you actually need

Another common complaint I often hear is that the customer had previously paid ‘thousands of dollars’ for another complex software, yet they only manage a few rentals. Or, on the other side, they manage over 100 rentals and the software they have is just too limited. Ask the vendor their average number of rentals per user, and the market they strive for. Do they work with owners of rental property or mostly with property managers? You need powerful features in your software without paying too much. At the same time, avoid ending up with overly complicated requirements with features you don’t need.

Common sense assistance

With any new software you need a little help. Avoid companies that don’t provide a phone number or any free support – eventually you will need some assistance. The trend is to not provide phone support, which may mean that you will have to either search a knowledge base for an answer, or wait for a return response to your online support request. Make sure that you can get immediate help through paid phone support.

Follow these common sense guidelines, and your property management software investment will help your business run a lot more efficiently, smoothly, and stress free.

Tip of the day! Using the FEATURES section

Many Tenant File users do not know of the capabilities of the ‘Features’ section. In fact, this is a very powerful and useful part of the program. With Features, you can keep detailed information about your rental property, such as bedrooms, bathrooms and other important information. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

You have 4 ‘major’ categories, that you can edit toTenant File Features your preferences. Those are typically interior, exterior, appliances and general. Each of these 4 main categories can have 15 subcategories. This is where is gets interesting. For example, under ‘appliances’ you could list every major appliance in the rental unit, such as the stove, refrigerator, microwave, wash, dryer, etc. You can simply type information in the field next to the item, whatever you want to keep track of. For example, you could enter the serial number or the last repair date. Or, you can create up to 5 ‘default’ choices for the sake of consistency.  For a dryer, you might set up 2 choices: electric or gas.

Under the ‘general’ category, you could include nearby schools, shopping centers, businesses, parks, playgrounds or more. You can include insurance policy information or anything you want to keep track of.

In the end, you’ll have a detailed description of the property with up to 45 pieces of detailed information about the interior, exterior, appliances or general information.

So, other than having a ‘filing cabinet’ of information, how can this be used? For starters, the Tenant File has the ability (under Miscellaneous > Feature Search) to look for this information by combining up to 5  ‘features’. So if you need to see all of the 3 bedroom homes, with 2 baths, near a certain school, with an electric stove, and a fenced yard – no problem.

Or if you have the optional RentalWIZ service, you can have the Tenant File automatically upload all of this information plus photos when it becomes vacant! No need to fill out forms, just click a few buttons and your vacancies are broadcasted all over the Internet! Plus, you can automatically create a Craigslist ad with this information.

This ‘Features’ information can be printed out from the report section and used in many ways. Don’t forget to use one of the most helpful and useful time saving ‘Features’ already included in your program!