Tragic Times Lately

Seems like by the time we get over one disaster, there is another. The Boston Marathon bombing was still fresh in our minds, then the explosion in West, Texas happened. While one was deliberate and one probably wasn’t, the outcome is still the same. Families have lost love ones, children were robbed of a long life and many will endure pain and suffering for the rest of their lives.

Being from Texas, some of us drove through West and saw the outpouring of assistance and love that neighbors, friends, families, and civil workers showed to help those affected. I guess that is the bright point in an otherwise devastating event.

Now, the entire country is shocked by the massive tornadoes that tore through Oklahoma, Kansas, and other nearby states. More destruction, more death, and more pain. I brings home the point that none of us have a guarantee to live a long life. We have to live our lives today in a way that we would be proud of if we were gone tomorrow. At the Tenant File and with our friends in Texas we are praying for all of the victims and their families. We hope that the volunteers can bring them comfort and that time will heal the painful memories.

New update for our RentalWIZ service

Our popular RentalWIZ service now has a new update. Anyone that currently uses the RentalWIZ program will be reminded of this update the next time you enter the program.


It just takes a minute to run the update installer.  The main new feature in this update is the ability to limit the number of features that display on the online vacancy listing page. This feature is found on the ‘Account Information’ screen under the ‘Preferences’ menu selection, and looks like this the image on the left.

This was a suggestion provided by some of our customers. Thank you! Those customers have some information in their Tenant File ‘features’ section that they did not want displayed to the public on the listing page. Others simply did not want all 15 subcategories showing because it took up too much room on the page. So we listened.

Now, you can choose the number of items that you want to display, or you can choose to not show any amenities (features subcategories) at all. For each of the four major categories, just enter a zero to not display anything, or enter the number of lines that want to show. Typically, the first 5 or 10 lines will provide the basic information about the property, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and basic amenities. The user can control these categories within the Tenant File program.

We hope you like the addition. It is free to all RentalWIZ users. If you don’t have it already, consider getting the RentalWIZ service. The basic version is free (3 listings with one photo each) , and there are very reasonably priced levels to add more vacancies and more photos.

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!




What are CAM charges and why should you care?

Tenant File CAM Charge Posting

CAM stands for  (Common Area Maintenance) , and they are charges which you post to a group of Tenants. Most commonly, CAM charges are for expenses such as building maintenance, taxes, or insurance. So the most common use is for commercial property, however, any Tenant File user can take advantage of its CAM posting ability for other types of charges.

Now, these charges are only to the ‘tenant’, so you can only select accounts that are specifically created to post only to the Tenant’s Ledger in the program. You could set up a single expense account called ‘CAM Charge’, or you could create several different more specific charges, such as one for ‘Utilities’, another for ‘Grounds Maintenance’, and another for ‘Insurance Costs’. These expenses are typically paid by the owner (or manager) and then ‘passed through’ to the tenant, so they are also referred to as ‘pass through’ charges.

Here’s an example on how to post something. Let’s say you have a bill for ‘Grounds Maintenance’, and you want to pass the expense to your tenants.

  • Do you want to divide it equally among all tenants?
  • Do you want to divide it according to their rental space size (square footage)?
  • Do you want to divide it according to ‘leased’ space, ignoring vacant rentals?

These type of questions will determine how much is charged to each tenant. You can even use the amount (or percentage of rent) that is entered in one of the three ‘recurring fields’, found in the information for every rental unit.

Furthermore, you don’t have to charge this to every tenant. You can just select a specific owner and charge only to that Owner’s tenants. You can even choose a specific property or building for the charge, or even just one tenant.

Another example: You charge a specific Owner‟s Tenants for Maintenance, Taxes, and Insurance once a month. The yearly charge of all 3 combined is $12,000, and you have 6 Tenants for this Owner. That means each month, a $1,000 (12k / 12 months) charge would need to be divided amount that Owner‟s Tenants.

1. Under ‟select how to allocate’, you would choose if you want the charge divided evenly among the 6 Tenants, base it on each Tenant‟s total of the total square footage, include only leased units, etc.

2. Under ‘Charge to’ you would choose ‘All Tenants of one or more Owners, and choose the Owner‟s name from the list.

3. Lastly you would select the account. You have 2 choices:
#1. If you want one transaction to appear in the ledger for each Tenant, you would set up one account for all 3 charges (Maintenance, Taxes, and Insurance) and call it something like ‘Monthly CAM Charges’. Then click the ‘Choose Accounts’ button and set up this charge, using the amount $1,000.
#2. If you want detail of the transactions for more detailed reporting, you would set up 3 accounts, one for ‘Maintenance Fees’, another for ‘Monthly Taxes’, and another for ‘Insurance Fees’. Then click the ‘Choose Accounts’ button and set each of these up. The ‘total’ for all 3 would add up to $1,000. You will see that total next to the ‘TOTAL amount to be allocated’ field.

Your settings are saved, so you only have to set this up once. Each month, you would need to enter this screen and click the ‘Post CAM Charges NOW’ button. Of course, if you only charge CAM charges once a quarter or once a year, you would divide the total $12,000.00 charge differently.

So, while CAM charge posting is normally used for commercial property, you can probably see other uses for residential property. For example, if you manage a mobile home park, you might want to allocate an electric bill to all tenants in the park. Or, if you manage a fourplex, there might be charges that you want to allocate to your tenants on a regular basis. If you manage a gated community, you might want to allocate a security fee or a HOA fee. As long as you are posting to a tenant ledger, there is no limit to your options.

Still looking for Update Suggestions…

Tenant File LogoOur next major update is scheduled for a summer 2013 release. Programming is still accepting suggestions to improve our property management software. If you have a suggestion that you think will benefit everyone, please let us know!

We can’t release the specific details yet, but there are going to be many features suggested by our fantastic customers. We’ll have reports that will make your accounting and balancing easier, improvements to the check section, a new late fee feature, and new user interface and much more.

Our staff appreciates the excellent response that we had to our last call, and Programming still has time to get in a few more ideas. We’ll have to close the suggestion flow at the end of May to prepare for the final release. Keep ’em coming!

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!

Tip of the day! The Feature Search

Tenant File Feature Search
The Feature Search Screen

The Feature Search Screen

When you have entered your information under the ‘Features’ section in the Tenant File (go to any Unit and click ‘Features’) it is time to put it to use. One way is the RentalWIZ service to upload your vacancies to the Internet. However, this article will focus on searching for specific items from within the program.  To do this, you use the ‘Feature Search’ section, found under ‘Miscellaneous > Feature Search‘.

Let’s say you have a prospective client that is looking for a 3 bedroom house, with 3 baths, and a back yard with a deck. That is where the Feature Search comes in.  In fact you can have not just three items, but up to five! So, you could search for the following:

  • A two bedroom house
  • With a built-in dishwasher
  • With a privacy fence
  • Near a certain area of town
  • With a lease to purchase option

Starting with the first ‘Pick a Search Choice’ option at the top, you would first select a MAJOR category, such as ‘Interior’ . Then, you would enter a SUBCATEGORY, such as ‘Bedrooms’. Then you would enter your KEYWORD, such as ‘Two’.  That’s all. Next you would move back up to the top and choose your second MAJOR category, such as ‘Appliances’, then the SUBCATEGORY, like ‘Dishwasher’, then the keyword, like ‘Built-in’. You get the idea.

Once you are finished with the criteria you want, just click the ‘Show Results’ button to see what available rentals in your inventory match your choices. Of course you can choose to browse ‘All Units’ or just those that are VACANT.

Hope this has been informative for you. We talk to customers all the time that have been using the Tenant File for years, and they say “Wow, I didn’t know it could do that!”. We’ll keep adding tips to make you aware of some of these neat tricks to make the Tenant File even more valuable to your office.

Run away screaming from SEO offers!

I’m pissed. Sorry for the language, but I am. Probably like you, I run a top-notch company, I’m an honest person, and I work really hard. So, it really gets to me when I trust another company and get scr%@ed. I’m talking about SEO – search engine optimization. You know, the way for your site to climb to the top of Google’s rankings.

You probably get tons of those SEO company promises in your email. I get about 20 a day. “We’ll get you top ranking in Google!”. All you have to do is pay about $150 per month and they will add tons of links to your site, submit to directories, write articles, post blogs, fix your meta tags, write content, social marketing, and on and on….if you see this….run! Back in 2010, these things were credible in Google, but since Panda and Penguin (Google algorithm updates) things all changed. Adding your site to a web directory isn’t that important any more, other than maybe under 20 national well established directories, and a handful of (your industry) related directories. Content on your site is still important, but now you can be penalized by Google for too many of your primary keywords on the same page, and not enough ‘synonym’ keywords. If you think that adding 150 links per month will help you, you are wrong. Each link must be relevant to your business, come from a respected site, and ‘trading’ links (reciprocal links) doesn’t help you, and could even hurt you if done too much.  Article sites aren’t not important any more, you need to build your reputation by creating information so valuable that it gets distributed via social sites (like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn, etc). So, if you go with the ‘old school’ SEO you’ll probably regret it! They will most likely put up a bunch on links to your site, that you will end up spending untold hours trying to get rid of.

I tried that approach way back when. As I became pretty much an expert in SEO, I hired a local company to help out. Several thousand dollars later, I found out that they put up questionable links as well, and I fired them. Next I went to the top and hired a nationally recognized company to do SEO for me. Big mistake. One day I called them and asked why I didn’t see any links. They had contracted to add 125 ‘industry relevant’ links per month. Apparently they had forgotten, and quickly ‘subbed out’ to another company, which in turn put out some horrible links. I’m talking links to dog, cat, and horse websites! Thousands more dollars down the drain…I can’t even say their name publicly because they made me sign an agreement in order for me to get a partial refund.

So, I guess you can see why I’m pissed. Now we do our own SEO in house and the results are great. Our link building is slow, steady, and relevant. We are getting back in good standing with Google finally after undoing all of the bad work done by other companies I trusted (and paid). I hope this will give you some advise so that you don’t have to go through what I did. I wish you well!

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.



Interesting property management articles and tips