We 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 . . .
Yes, 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!
If 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.
As a landlord, you have to outline to your tenant what they can and can’t change as far as physical things in your property.
You should definitely give your tenant freedom as far as painting the interior, as long as they paint it back to the original color when they move out. This same kind of idea applies to hanging things on walls; your tenant should be allowed to hang things up on halls as long as they cover up the holes when they move out. You have to remember that your tenant is living in a home that isn’t theirs, so they want to make it feel as much theirs as they can. By personalizing your property, your tenant will feel more inclined to stay there for a long time. If your tenant doesn’t comply and return your property to you in its original state, take the repair and restoration costs out of their security deposit.
Your tenant may want to do bigger changes, like changing floors or even knocking down walls…yikes! These kind of changes become costly and may also be a hassle to deal with. Unless it’s something that absolutely needs to be done, like changing carpets to tiles become there is a risk of water damage from an appliance, it’s probably not in your best interest to allow your tenant to do it. This may also alter the value of your home, and not always in a positive way.
So, once you’ve found your property manager, or property management company, what can you do to make sure that they have the right tools to succeed?
It’s a good idea to set up an office of some sort. If your property is a small community (apartment complex, gated community, etc.) you can set up an office in the center of the property so that all of your residents have easy access to it. If your properties are separate, you can set up an office in a central location that’s convenient for you, your tenants, and your property manager. Having an office set up is nice because it provides your tenants with a place to direct any problems or concerns they may have with the property. It also provides you with an address where all property related correspondence can be sent. Definitely provides a sense of organization for everyone!
As far as maintaining the rental, you should set your property manager up with some kind of software they can use to keep everything organized. Tenant File is an awesome option as far as rental property software. Tenant File offers all kinds of features that’ll help keep your rental property organized. Your property manager will be able to keep track of tenants and maintenance requests, post rent, and email you and your tenants (plus wayyyy more) with the help of a single software program! If you think this rental property software sounds too good to be true, download a sample and see for yourself!
Here at Tenant File, we’re constantly stressing the importance of finding a tenant that is a perfect fit for your home. While there are certain steps you can take prior to renting out your home to them (check out our video on tenant screening here), can you guarantee that your tenant won’t go bad? Realistically, you can’t, so you need to be alert and keeping your eyes open for signs that your tenant may not be as good as they seem. Having a bad tenant can make the rental process immensely difficult and costly for you, so you need to make sure you don’t end up with one!
For starters, don’t rush the process of screening your tenant. It’s important to make sure that you have legitimate information that checks out. You should definitely require proof of employment from your tenant and verify it to make sure it’s not falsified. If you skip this step, you may end up with a tenant that you think is a high earning executive, when in reality they’re unemployed. Missed or late payments are also a huge red flag your tenant may be going bad; if they stop paying out of nowhere without speaking to you about any issues they might have, it may be time to have them move.
A huge thing that some tend to overlook is making sure everything is in writing. The lease contract needs to be sure to have every single aspect of the rental agreement being made in it, not just a general overview of the terms. If all the terms of the agreement are in writing, it’s clear to your tenant what they can and can’t do in your property. Having a fully stated agreement also makes it easier for you to point out certain terms your tenant is breaking and provide concrete reason to have them evicted.
With summer slowly approaching, the clock is ticking for people who are trying to find the perfect vacation home. Here at Tenant File, we’ve compiled a checklist of the top 5 things you should look for when trying to find your summer rental.
1. Good price – Look around the area where you’re thinking about renting and compare prices before jumping the gun on the first home you see. You want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and not paying too much.
2. Location, location, location! – Once you know what kind of area you want to spend your summer in (suburb, city, beach town, etc.) do some research to select the perfect area. You want to make sure the place you’re living in fits the description of where you want to spend your time.
3. Furnished – Unless you have an entire furniture set ready for your summer rental, make sure you look for a place that comes furnished and ready to move in. Having to buy and move furniture into the home is just another large expense that can be avoided.
4. Lease time – Do you want a week-to-week lease or month-to-month lease? It’s important to know what time frame you’re looking at so you and your landlord can create a solid agreement.
5. Comfort – Comfort is key! Your vacation home is where you’ll be spending a decent amount of time so you want to make sure that you feel comfortable in it and know you’ll be comfortable living there.
It is no secret that homeowners are very keen on taking care of their homes; there is a constant desire to make sure one’s home is always in a perfect state. For a homeowner living in their own home, there is no question about who needs to be maintaining the homes condition, the responsibility falls on themselves. But where does someone who lives in a rental home stand? Is it solely the job of the landlord to maintain the home, or is the tenant also responsible?
In any lease agreement there are certain conditions set that both the landlord and tenant must abide by. Typically, these are things pertaining to payments, general rules, and maintenance, etc. Maintenance standards are set in order to determine what falls under the landlords responsibility and what doesn’t. Though these agreements are set so that the tenant does not have to deal with the problems that a homeowner would have to deal with (since they’re just renting), they should not brush off the notion that a tenant should also make it a point to take care of their rental home. This does not necessarily mean that a tenant should be responsible for paying for a handyman, or trimming the tress; this means that the tenant should make it a point to keep things in good shape and ensure that any problems that they have are brought to the attention of the landlord. If a landlord pressure cleans a tenant’s driveway, the tenant should make it a point to keep it clean and looking nice. Simple things like that are what keep the property looking good and both the tenant and landlord happy. Being timely with maintenance requests is also very important! It is entirely up to the tenant to make sure the landlord is quickly notified if something needs to be repaired, as this ensures that things are being taken care of effectively before they get worse.
Aside from living in a well kept home, there are other benefits of tenants helping in their property being taken care of. The cooperation of the tenant definitely fosters the growth of the relationship with the landlord making the rental process significantly easier. Also, if a landlord sees that a tenant is very good about keeping the house clean, or even notifying them of repairs, they will be more inclined to write a good recommendation letter for this tenant.
A while back on the Tenant File Property Management Software Blog we covered the things you need to be aware of when you’re screening pet owners as potential tenants (check it out here). Now, don’t think that making your property pet friendly is going to cause you problems! There are quite a few benefits to allowing your tenants to bring their furry friends as roommates.
Landlords constantly question whether or not they should make rental properties pet friendly. Though many agree that this just opens the door for destruction of property, there are benefits that come with allowing tenants to have pets. If you limit yourself to only allowing people with no dogs or cats, your pool of possible tenants is significantly smaller. It is no secret that most pet owners are very fond of their four-legged friends; they become like children to them, feeding and loving them, and most importantly giving them a home. Because the owners also act as parents in a sense, you know that they’re responsible and capable of taking your home. You won’t have to worry about the house being destroyed. This also brings up the issue of the security deposit, something that definitely works to the landlords advantage. If you allow pets you’re entitled to asking for a bigger security deposit (kind of like a pet fee) or even ask for a bit more monthly rent.
The question of pets or no pets becomes a huge ultimatum for potential tenants- they aren’t going to make the move if their pet can’t too. Being a pet-friendly rental property gives you a huge advantage in the market because many properties do not allow pets so they’re automatically written off as an option to those looking to move. Though it is a big decision to make, making your property pet friendly is definitely you should consider!
The first step in making sure that your property is being taken care of is to make sure that you have a reliable tenant. A good way to make sure that you’ve made the right choice is to ask for a reference letter from their previous landlord. A reference letter is more personal than a background check or credit history check (though these are also very important, you can check out a software to look into these here) and it allows the previous landlord to tell you any specific issues that they may have had with the tenant. If your tenant has a history of being reliable you know that they’ll take care of your property and make the rental process easy for you.
Make sure the security deposit fits the property.
If you want to avoid spending your own money on repairs once your tenant moves out, make sure your security deposit is sufficient for the property. A property’s security deposit should be based on the size of the property and nature of the repairs that may be needed; a tiny apartment that won’t have a lot of repairs shouldn’t have the same security deposit as a five bedroom house with a pool. If you base the deposit on the nature of repairs you may need to make, you won’t have to dish out as much of your own money once your tenant moves out and it’s time to fix the place up. A larger deposit also gives the tenant the incentive to take care of your property- they’ll be careful so that they can get their deposit back.
Fix things as they break.
When a tenant moves out, a lot of time and money will be invested into fixing your property for the next person. If things are fixed as they break, instead of leaving all repairs for when the tenant moves out, you’ll lighten both your financial and work loads. In fixing things as they break there is less risk of the problem worsening and the financial impact will be significantly lower because you’re not doing all of the repairs at once. Fixing things as they break will also keep tenants happy because they know that you care about the property and about keeping them happy.
Making your rental property “green” is easier than you think. More and more landlords are going green with their properties. And even more and more don’t know where to begin. Here are some tips to get you started:
Replacing your faucets and toilets with low-flow faucets and toilets can reduce water usage across the board. Many gallons of water can be saved just by making this switch. These savings can also affect your heating bill. Since your tenants won’t need as much hot water, the heating bill can be reduced. Water is a crucial part of life for many states and cutting back on water waster can greatly benefit the environment.
Insulation can be installed to benefit the environment. Materials for insulation are inexpensive. It keeps airflow at a minimum between outdoor and indoor areas. It can also control the temperature within a property. Installation may be difficult. However, there are some options that can make installation easier. I would suggest you do research before making a decision.
Another option to control air flow is air sealing. One way to go about this is a pressure test. You will need to hire an expert for this, so keep that in mind. Areas that can be tested for air loss are base boards, windows, and outlets. Foam, caulk, and gaskets can be used to seal the area.
Solar energy is a great tool to go green. Solar energy can reduce electricity usage to zero. You can even receive credit on your bill during the summer if excess electricity is fed through the power grid. This credit can then be put towards the winter months. Systems are scalable and energy formulas depend on the contractor. So again, do your research.
The biggest note to take away from this is to do your research. Going green may not be for every landlord due to time or budget constraints. But take some of these tips into consideration. They could benefit you greatly later on.