Management companies and property managers require more tools in managing the assets for owners compared with the tools a private landlord may use. This article will look at the crossover and similarities between the software types, the differences, and the top features to look for in property management software for your rental management company.
Property Management and Landlord Software Similarities
Software for landlords and property management companies have many similarities. Everyone in the business or rental management should have software that provides these services and features:
Online payment processing to collect rent by ACH, and rent and application fees by credit and debit cards, pay vendors and owners, and receive owner contributions by ACH. Online payment options should also include access to a Cash Payment Network for alternatives to accepting cash, checks, and money orders for rent payments.
Communication tools such as automatic notifications, text messaging, e-signatures, and tenant portals make managing tenants easier.
Tenant screening should be standard in any rental management system you choose. Every landlord, whether managing their own property or a portfolio of properties for owners should have access to a comprehensive suite of tenant screening reports for a throughout background check.
Tenant portals are the best way to give your tenants access to pay online, submit maintenance requests, and keep track of their invoices.
Automated tasks and procedures are a must-have for your rental business. When income is received electronically, automated postings to ledgers eliminates data entry errors. Manual input demands time and accuracy which increases payroll costs and accountant fees.
Landlord and Property Management Software Differences
If something goes awry for a private landlord, it impacts them personally. However, for property management companies, the impact is wider reaching. Property management companies are entrusted with managing both the physical assets, tenant relations, as well as the financials for property owners. That comes with additional fiduciary responsibilities and regulatory compliance private landlords don’t often encounter.
In addition to keeping great tenant-landlord relations, property managers also need to concern themselves with making sure the property owners are happy as well as helping their portfolio be profitable.
For this reason, property managers must use tools created specifically for this purpose to see the best return on their investment for their clients.
Top Features to Look for in Property Management Software
The top features outlined below are components of the best property management software and include tools for:
- Property maintenance
- Accounting and financials
- Owner management
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
And also provide:
- Robust security features
- Mobile options
- Property management resources
The following is an overview of these key tools and features and why they are important for property management operations.
Property Maintenance Features
According to research, maintenance and repairs make up a significant portion of a property manager’s common and important tasks.
Under the umbrella of property maintenance are:
- Routine maintenance inspections
- Appliance maintenance
- HVAC systems
- Pools and community areas
- Pest control
- Safety measures
- And more!
Property management software features that facilitate the management of the physical aspect of a property would include:
Automatic reminders for routine maintenance tasks such as checking fire extinguishers and smoke and Co2 monitors, water heater flushing, and important rental inspections. Many property management software systems have built-in notification reminders and some programs even offer additional text and email reminders as well.
Work order management is a key component and top feature of a property management system. Look for one that offers flexibility in setting prioritization levels, allows you to email the work order to the appropriate vendor, share with owners electronically, and integrates into the accounting system to post the expense.
Repair requests directly through a tenant portal is a time-saver. Allowing tenants to submit requests electronically eliminates shuffling paper and simplifies the process for all parties. As it relates to property management, you will be able to configure settings to allow owners to see those repair requests as well.
Accounting and Financial Features
In the same research, accounting tasks tied with property maintenance as a property manager’s work load. Having the appropriate tools in hand that automates and simplifies the data-entry can reduce overall costs and increase efficiency and profits.
The financial statements form the backbone of any property management company (taxes, commissions, management fees, net income, and rent roll information for investing).
Your property management software should have detailed reports available for best data insights to allow you to implement strategic changes and communicate with your owners include:
- Vacancy and occupancy reports
- Owner statements and reports
- Income and expense, category, and other robust reports
- Rent roll and tenant reports
For the needs of the property management company, the features to look for should also include:
- Trust accounting
- Compliance and document management
- Transaction audit history
- Automation of complex processes such as bank sync and 1099 tax forms
When it comes to marketing, property management companies have greater needs than the private landlord. Not only is marketing vacancies well important to keep occupancy rates high, but property managers need marketing tools to attract new owners as clients to their business. With the right marketing tools, property managers can build their brand and create credibility and visibility in the market.
Make sure your property management software has tools at the ready for you to build your own web presence, or offers an integrated web design partner, like Cevado, who knows the rental and real estate industry. Great property management software companies want you to be a success and will provide you with marketing resources for you to distribute to help you build your client base.
Owner Management Features
A property management company is tasked with not only the maintenance and financial responsibilities of the owners portfolio but also for communicating the status and health of the assets.
Juggling multiple properties and portfolios, property managers need software features that make these tasks simple for everyone. Owner management tools and features to look for include:
Providing owner portals that allow owners access to important information, reports, and ledger details 24/7 from any device.
E-signatures and custom forms and documents such as management agreements are a convenience for owners and efficient use of time for managers.
On-the-go tools such as scanning receipts for owners to view and text messaging keeps your owners connected to the latest information.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Landlords and property managers alike need a system to keep track of the relationships with their tenants that includes features for their leasing process and to streamlining the tenant experience. Having these features improves the tenant-landlord relationship which in turn can help keep occupancy levels high. That kind of attention to detail and potential for profits can go a long way in attracting and retaining owners.
Security is the number one priority for compliance in trust accounting as you handle financial, personal, and private information.
A top feature in property management software should include two-factor authentication, secure data-storage, a web platform that is cloud-based with security measures for remote access, and segmented user access and permissions.
Mobile Friendly Features
Mobile applications such as tenant and owner portals allow online access from anywhere. But if your property management software isn’t mobile friendly with a responsive design for you and your staff, it may be time to shop around for a new platform. Back office and front office support, property, maintenance, and marketing managers, and sub users such as accountants should be able to access the software on-the-go from their smartphones and devices.
Integrations with Service Providers
Property management system should be a foundational piece that allows you access customize the program with integrations with other service provider tools you need for your business.
Key integrated features should include:
- Tenant screening
- Insurance needs
- Marketing and tenant communications
- Leasing and Inspections
- Banking and financials
Property Management Resources
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the top feature to look for are the people behind the software. They should be dedicated to your property management success as well as the success of your owners. They should be at the ready to help with support, data-migration, and onboarding as needed and offer self-service resources such as an educational blog and helpful knowledge base.