Category Archives: Administrator

Rental Maintenance Tips for Landlords

TenantFile.com Roof MaintenanceJust like buying a new car, you are excited at the possibilities and rewards that you will get with ownership.  Unfortunately, just like a new car, someday you’ll have to pay for maintenance and upkeep – it is simply a part of managing property, but there are many things you can do to prepare. Try these rental maintenance ideas and you’ll find it much easier.

Start your maintenance fund now.  A  good start would be to save enough money for major roof repairs. Hopefully, you won’t need it for that, but you’ll need it for other repairs anyway.  You might need to replace a major appliance or have trees that need to be removed for safety purposes.

You should do a monthly inspection of your rental property. Go through the entire house inside and outside and take detailed notes of damage that you need to repair, or damage that the tenant might be responsible for.

Remember that anything you do to improve the property will help the resale value later, so don’t put off repairs.  They’ll get more expensive later on, and you might avert a major catastrophe.

The repairs and maintenance costs for your rental property are tax deductible, so be sure to keep good records. If you have major expenses, you might be able to depreciate those costs over several years. We suggest that you have a software program that can log your work orders, expenses, and then export to your accountant at the end of the year.

Your relationship with your tenant is very important in maintaining your property. Tenants are often willing to help with maintenance or repairs to keep their home looking nice and maybe save some on the rent, so work with them on providing materials in exchange for repairs.

Lastly, don’t think you can do it all by yourself. Use an expert to evaluate the property, looking for slab cracks, termites, bad wiring and other potentially disastrous problems. If you are good with tools you can realize substantial savings, but if you need training, you can take advantage of free clinics at the local Home Depot or Lowe’s. In these job specific lessons, you can learn to repair door frames, install a new toilet and replace the flooring in the kitchen.

We hope you have a property that requires little maintenance and few repairs, but that is probably pie in the sky.  However, if you do your prepare ahead of time,  you’ll save money and have a sense of pride and accomplishment in your rental property.

Comparing 30-Year and 15-Year Mortgages

TenantFile.com House Image
You have found the perfect house and now it is time to obtain financing. There are many choices when it comes to financing so it is always wise to understand the pros and cons of a 30-year mortgage versus a 15-year mortgage.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a 30-Year Mortgage

A 30-year mortgage allows the mortgagor to keep their payments low. A borrower’s financial situation can change at any time. Keeping payments low will make it easier for the borrower to afford their mortgage payment even if their financial situation changes.

Another advantage to a 30-year mortgage is the ability to save money. Because the payments are low, borrowers can pay off other debts, make home improvements and put money in savings for unexpected expenditures.

The main disadvantage of a 30-year loan is that the borrower will pay more interest over the lifetime of a loan. When the payment is calculated, it will include interest that is paid monthly. This monthly interest will add up over the lifetime of a loan, costing the borrower more money over the life of the loan.

Another disadvantage of to a 30-year loan is a higher interest rate. Generally, the longer the term of the mortgage, the higher the APR. This means that the borrower will end up paying more in interest each month.

Finally, 30-year loans may not be the optimum choice for those who have children who will be starting college over the life of the loan or for people who plan to retire before the loan will be paid off.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a 15-Year Mortgage

The main advantage of a 15-year loan is the borrower can pay off the mortgage in half the time of a traditional 30-year mortgage. This is especially advantageous to borrowers who will be retiring soon or those with children who will be attending college soon.

The borrower will pay thousands of dollars less on a 15-year loan. In some instances, this can mean tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the lifetime of the loan when compared to a 30-year loan.

The interest rate is generally lower on a shorter term loan. For example, the current interest rate, as of 2016 (http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/current-interest-rates.aspx), on a 15-year fixed rate is 2.89 percent while the interest rate on a 30-year mortgage is 3.63 percent. That is almost three-quarters of a percent lower, which can save a lot of money over the lifetime of a loan.

One of the disadvantages of a 15-year mortgage is a higher monthly payment. This can be an issue if the mortgagor’s financial situation changes. If the mortgagor loses his/her job, it can be more difficult to pay the mortgage payments.

Finally, because the amount of the mortgage is calculated on the borrower’s debt to income ratio, the amount of the loan that he or she qualifies for may be reduced. This can affect the quality of a home that the person will qualify for.

There are many things to consider when choosing between a 15-year mortgage and a 30-year mortgage. Many people think that the amount of the payments on a 15-year loan will be twice the amount of a 30-year loan. This is not true. If a borrower took out a 30-year mortgage for $200,000 with an interest rate of 4 percent, the payment would be $954.83. The payment amount on a 15-year mortgage with the same interest rate would be $1,479.38.

When deciding which mortgage is best, borrowers should consider their current financial situation as well as their long-term financial goals. Borrowers who prefer to minimize their payment and maximize their loan amount should opt for a 30-year mortgage. Those who wish to pay their mortgage off quickly and save on interest should opt for a 15-year mortgage.


Jeremy Johnson is a real estate enthusiast and has written content for dozens of real estate and related sites around the world. RealEstateCompanies.info is a side project he maintains because of his interest in real estate.

Tenant File Welcomes New Marketing VP

PRESS RELEASE: Tenant File Property Management Software Welcomes New Marketing VP

W G Software, Inc. the creators of Tenant File Property Management Software, have just announced that student Matthew Zuniga will now be a part of the company, as a Marketing VP, effective immediately.

Matthew Zungia - Tenant File Marketing VPW G Software, Inc. provides an outstanding property management software for owners and managers of rental property, and has been doing so for over 15 years. The software allows users to easily keep track of all the different aspects involved with property management. Currently, the software has several thousands of landlords, property owners, and property management using the software every single day. Wayne Gathright, president, says “I am very excited to have Matthew on our team, and I look forward to seeing what he can bring to the company. I met with Matthew and I knew right away that he was the person that I wanted to work with.  I believe that he has the necessary skills and motivation to expand the reach of the Tenant File software for rental property.”

Matthew is a currently senior at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and is majoring in Computer Science with a Minor in Mathematics. When he is not working or focusing on his studies, Matthew enjoys listening to music, playing video games, exercising, reading, and posting on social media. When asked about the position, Matthew says “I have a love of social media, and I am very interested in Internet Marketing as well. I feel like when you mix those two aspects with my strong computer background, I believe that I can make a positive impact on the Tenant File organization. I look forward to working with Wayne and the rest of the company and learning as much as I possibly can about Internet Marketing in the process.”


Tenant File is the industry leader of on-premise desktop property management software for small to medium size businesses. Additionally, the Tenant File has produced integrated add-on products for 1099 MISC Tax software, Work Orders, RentalWIZ for posting vacancies to the Internet and other applications. For more information about Tenant File, visit http://www.TenantFile.com, or follow @TenantFile on Twitter.

Tenant File Logo

Web-based or On-premise Desktop Based?

Tenant File logoWe used to get asked why the Tenant File is not in the cloud … it seems there are hundreds of property management software programs doing that, so web-based must the the next great new thing, right? No. Well, now we get lots of calls from property managers that are sick and tired of the ever escalating and unending monthly fees, downtime, and the high security risks.  So I wanted to address how the Tenant File is doing . . .

Happy GirlYes, the Tenant File DESKTOP Property Management Software is still going strong.  Our user-base is growing every day. If you have tried moving to web-based software thinking that it will make your property management run smoother and are now tired of paying a monthly fee PER UNIT for some company on the ‘cloud’ to hold your important information and you now want to get back in control of managing  your rentals, come back to the Tenant File.  Throughout the years, we have made many important upgrades and additions to the Tenant File.   To name a few:

The Tenant File Version 8 now includes up to ten Bank Accounts up from the original 3 Bank Accounts

  • Additional posting fields were added to the POST RENT INCOME section, the screen that  allows you to quickly post rent income from a large number of tenants very quickly, or just to post a few rents as needed.    Additionally, this screen enables you to create a bank deposits for the rent posted, post management fees, post late fees received, and add another payment for any income account in the chart of accounts. You can even write a check to your own company for management fees posted.
  • The Tenant File now allows you to have up to 6 different RECURRING FIELDS for charges that are in addition to the typical rent posting, management fee posting, and late fee charges. The recurring field amounts are kept in the Unit Information for every rental unit.
  • Additional Reports were added to Version 8, such as the Ledger Balances Current (Compact), Owner Audit Report, Owner Profit and Loss Report, Owner Invoices , Late Rent/Late Fees Due , Security Deposits Receipts Posted, Tenant Balances Aging Report , Tenant Rent Payment Summary , Register – All Bank Accounts , Property MTD/YTD Summary, Company Profit and Loss Report, Tenant Balances (Range) , Owner Vacancy Listing , Tenant Delinquency By Owner – just to name a few.
  • The new Security Deposit Disposition Screen allows you to easily take care of the deposit postings when your tenant moves out.
  • The Owner Invoice allows you to take any posting (or multiple postings) in the ledgers and create an invoice for those transactions. This is actually a report, so it is accessed from the Reports screen.
  • The Tenant File now supports any number of Automatic Rent Increases, for any rental unit, and for any date in the future. On the screen below, you simply select the rental unit, enter the amount and date of the increase, and the program will do the rest.
  • Automated Late Fee Postings were added with release of the Tenant File 8. It allows you to set the late fee individually for each tenant separately in the Tenant Ledger under ‘Setup/View Fees’. So, if you charge late fees differently for different tenants, you charge DAILY LATE FEES and you want them to be automated, or if you simply want a hands off’ method for late fee posting, this method is for you.
  • Upload Vacancies to the Web – Version 8 entitles you to a no obligation ONE YEAR subscription to RentalWIZ, which provides you a free web page branded for your company, uploads to other Internet rental sites, and more!

Property Manager HandshakeIf you have an older version of the Tenant File and are ready to get back to running your property management business in your own office, you can order the Tenant File update and STOP paying monthly fees for your own software.  If you have never had the opportunity to try the Tenant File DESKTOP Property Management software but have been looking for a reliable desktop software program that has been on the market for over twenty years with thousands of happy customers, click into www.TenantFile.com to review our program.   The Update purchase includes a month of free phone support to assist you with familiarizing yourself with the software while new purchases include two months of phone support.  Plus, users have the ability to use the WEB SUPPORT Ticket System that will continually provide answers to all individual questions at no additional charge.  We know that you will be happy with how smoothly and simply the program will take care of all of your property management needs – right from your own computer.

How to Avoid Scammers

Angry Property ManagerMost warnings and media stories about scams on rental listing sites such as Craigslist focus on helping renters avoid scams, but landlords and property managers are often targeted as well. Here are some of the most common ways in which property managers and landlords find themselves getting scammed — and how they can prevent it. Learning how to avoid scammers is critical to your success.

Three Types of Scams:

Smoke-and-Mirrors Scams

Scammers steal pictures and property listing descriptions from authentic rental listings, and post them elsewhere online to lure renters. The alternative postings include suspiciously low pricing and contain fake email addresses or 800-numbers, which the scammer uses to draw renters in. For the landlord, their legitimate listing is passed over by tenants clicking on the lower price option, and can create suspicions that the legitimate listing is a scam as well.<

Lawsuit Scams

These scams involve real tenants actually signing a lease agreement and moving in – only to invent an excuse for a lawsuit. This could be failure to provide lead paint documentation or really anything that sounds scary and serious. Even if the tenants eventually lose the lawsuit, they can still often live for free while the landlord deals with the suit. Court may put a stay on any eviction proceedings until the lawsuit is decided.

False Check Refunds

Impostors often will pose as renters who agree to pay a security deposit and rent without viewing the property. Then the impostors send fraudulent cashier’s checks in excess of the stated amounts and request that landlords return the overages. After sending a “partial refund,” landlords learn the up-front payments were counterfeit.

How to avoid scammers – here are some ways in which landlords and property managers can guard against these scams:

Limit Information

Publish limited information on the internet regarding yourself and your properties. Post the intersection instead of the full street address. Serious prospects will call, giving you the opportunity to conduct a phone screening prior to divulging sensitive information.

Use An Alternate Phone Number

Never use your cell or home phone in your rental ads. Consider free options such as Google Voice to receive calls on your cell phone without giving away your true phone number.

Conduct A Background Check via Telephone

Always conduct a preliminary background check via telephone prior to showing the property. Scammers will be uncomfortable answering many questions. When doing a more complete screening after showing the property to an interested tenant, be sure to verify their employment, income, credit history, criminal background, and court history. If they have ever sued a landlord, keep searching.

Watermark Your Photos

Watermarking your pictures is one way to prevent picture theft. There are a number of watermark software programs and some free online versions. Do some research to choose the appropriate one for you.

Now that you know some ways to avoid getting scammed, also check out our post on protecting your computer from a cyber attack: http://tfblog.tenantfile.com/2015/10/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-property-manager-post-cyber-attack/

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.

A Day in the Life of a Property Manager Post Cyber Attack

Angry Property Management CompanyAs a property manager, you wanted to stay with the latest cloud technology, so you trusted your valuable data to a web-based software company. This scenario could be your company, it is real, and could happen in the near future.

8:00am – Everybody is calm, laughing and enjoying their first cup of coffee. Computers are glowing with the dashboard of your web-based software.  As a property manager you are experiencing just a normal work day.
8:05am – Suddenly all computers show a screen ‘NETWORK NOT FOUND’. No problem, soon it will be back up, just reboot your routers.
8:20am – This is becoming annoying, the computers are still not booting up to the Internet, so nobody can log into your property management software.
9:00am – Tenants are starting to call, they cannot process their rent payments. Still no Internet.
10:00am – The first owner calls and complains that the owner portal is down. They need the data for a meeting. Owner payments are due today.
11:00am – More tenants are calling, some are requesting emergency repairs. Work Orders and repair request are all handled by the software, which dead.
12:00pm – You have 5 office employees on the clock that are sitting around waiting for the Internet to return. Things are getting worse by the minute.
1:00pm – Everyone is watching the TV. There has been a major Internet disruption due to a cyber attack. No word on restoration of services.
2:00pm – No work has been done since early this morning. You have already lost productivity, plus tenants, owners, and vendors are lighting up the phones with complaints.
5:00pm – No answers, no work, employees go home … you’ll have to get everything caught up tomorrow.

Angry TenantThe next day – The cyber attack has spread, servers are down all over the country. You still need to pay all employees to come in to field phone calls from angry tenants and owners. You are having to call vendors to send them out for repairs, but you cannot process their payments. They are not happy. Tenants are being told to bring in their rent payments in person, but all transactions have to be recorded into a spreadsheet for transfer into the cloud property management software sometime later… if at all.

The third day – No change. You are losing money right and left. Your business cannot do anything but take calls and promise you are doing everything possible. No banking, no property management, a total disaster.

After that – total panic. Your business is totally down. You don’t have a backup of your tenants, owners, or vendors. You call your web based property management software company for hours and cannot get through. Once you get to speak with someone, they tell you their server has been part of the attack and they cannot promise that anything can be restored. Your business is in deep trouble, this could take weeks to restore if ever….

Is this scenario possible or just a scare tactic?

Ben Lawsky, head of New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS), said he fears a large enough hack on Wall Street firms could “spill over into the broader economy” — not unlike the mortgage meltdown of 2008.

“We are concerned that within the next decade, or perhaps sooner, we will experience an Armageddon-type cyber event that causes a significant disruption in the financial system for a period of time,” said Ben Lawsky, head of New York’s Department of Financial Services. He called such an attack a “cyber 9/11.”

Recently senators that have classified access and infrastructure experts agree on an impending major cyber attack. A recent New York Times article warns that Russia could be planning an attack affecting “almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.”

Think about the breaches in security at Target, Home Depot, Amazon, Staples, JP Morgan Chase, Yahoo, Apple, Google and hundreds of supposedly well protected sights. They are getting worse, not better. No company is safe from this, no matter what the software vendors tell their customers. You are probably using the software as SAAS (software as a service) which simply means monthly payments. That can be cut off at any time. Your data can be inaccessible at any time if the Internet has a problem. That means your entire business could at risk.

Our own national security experts are warning about an impending cyber threat coming from other countries that would target critical USA infrastructure systems. Adm. Michael Rogers, The director of the National Security Agency, told the House Intelligence Committee he expects a major cyber attack against the U.S. in the next decade. “It’s only a matter of the ‘when,’ not the ‘if,’ that we are going to see something dramatic,” he said.

If you think your web based software is safe, think again. Even if you are able to make regular backups from your server, the effects of an Internet shutdown would be devastating to your property management company. You have been entrusted with the most valuable information from your tenants, your owners, your vendors, and all of the companies that you do business with. You might want to think about that before you put everything in the ‘cloud’.

Is Big Data the next Big Thing?

We can all agree that technology has done wonders for the field of real estate. Within seconds, you can have all kinds of data, specifically big data, right in front of you almost instantly. Big data, as its name implies, is basically a huge set of data that requires extensive processing because it’s so big. You’re probably thinking, what does this have to do with real estate?  

Well, the possibilities are endless…

Once a big data set has been analyzed and the relevant information has been extracted (this process is called data mining),  it can be used to show you all kinds of trends that can be very useful for your real estate or property management business.  For example, a big data set that has housing information for your area can show you how the housing market has changed in the past year, while showing which specific factors may have contributed to it.

Analyzing these large data sets can also help you determine the potential value of a property based on data pertaining to similar properties. Depending on the type of data you have, you can develop an algorithm that can tell you which properties are good investments, and which are not so good.

It’s pretty clear that big data will eventually serve a much bigger purpose than predictive analysis and trend examination (even though these are huge in the real estate industry), the question is, what’s next?

 

 

 

Reference Required

Just like with any other application, a reference letter can definitely set someone apart from the rest. Though it’s not necessarily a requirement of the lease application process, asking your possible tenant for a reference letter from their previous landlord is absolutely in your best interest.

Other parts of the application, like proof of income, and credit history, give you information about the tenant and whether or not they can afford rent, but they don’t really tell you if they’re going to be a good tenant or not. The reference letter is written from someone who was in the exact same position as you, so it’s going to be your best source. This is where their previous landlord can tell you about any specific issues they may have had (that you probably won’t know right away), and where they can also tell you if that tenant was the best they’ve ever had. The reference letter is a way of knowing things that you wouldn’t immediately know about the tenant, but you should consider when making the final decision.

The same wreferenceay that you would expect an honest and detailed reference letter from a possible tenant, you should always be willing to provide your tenants with a reference once they move out. When you’re writing the reference letter, talk about anything that you feel is relevant and valuable to the next landlord. Mention how well your tenant took care of the property, if they paid rent on time, etc. Maybe you want to provide a number where the landlord can reach you at in case they have other questions.

 

Are You Accepting Applications?

Somewhere in the tenant screening process, tenants are usually required to fill out a lease application that will help determine if they are a good fit for the property or not. Lease applications are pretty standard but you can modify the required information if your lease requires you to. So, what exactly is a lease application?

A lease application, like any other application, requires tenants to put down basic information that goes into making the decision about renting your property out to them. Basically, contact information, previous residence(s), proof of income, criminal history, and employment history are all standard on rental applications.

Rental applications are a great tool for weeding out the people who really aren’t interested in your property. If someone who is very unsure of whether or not the home is right for them, they won’t want to waste time filling out an application. Plus, a fee is usually required of the tenant, to be submitted with the application; not surprisingly, this is referred to as the application fee. They aren’t going to want to pay a fee if they don’t think they’ll actually end up living there.  If you have multiple people interested in your property, tell them about the rental application and their responsibility to fill it out and pay the fee; those who are truly interested will be the ones to stick around for the entire process.

application