Landlords have a lot of responsibilities and a seemingly endless list of to-do’s when it comes to self-managing their rental properties. This can be a struggle, but choosing the best landlord software for your needs can help immensely.
If you are a landlord, you likely got into real estate to generate passive income or save for retirement and can’t invest endless amounts of time and money trying to manage your rental properties. A great property management software or landlord software can streamline your workload and make recordkeeping more manageable than ever before.
What landlords need landlord software?
Whether you are a landlord with one unit or a hundred, if you self-manage your rentals, you need landlord software. Landlord software is designed to make all of your tasks related to your rental business as seamless and quick as possible. The best landlord software solution will consistently save you time and energy.
Learn more: The Top 10 Landlord Software Options Ranked
How does landlord software help me self-manage my rental properties?
Landlords who do not utilize landlord-specific business software often find themselves scattered between multiple spreadsheets, document storage systems, and generic accounting software. This makes tax time daunting and guarantees that you’re wasting valuable time inputting the same information into multiple rental listing sites, spreadsheets, and lease documents. In a worst-case scenario, it can lead to legal or financial issues if you aren’t able to keep up with the demands of file management in multiple systems.
Landlord software is designed to help landlords efficiently manage their portfolios and effectively organize the vital financial, tenant, and leasing information that is crucial to access in the event of an eviction or an audit. This allows landlords to more easily take on the management tasks that would otherwise be delegated to a paid property management team.
Can landlord software take the place of a property management company?
A great property management company can provide a lot of benefits. Since they are dedicated to staying abreast of real estate information, they are often more readily equipped to navigate the complex legal and financial aspects of rental property management.
Learn more: 10 Reasons You Need to Hire a Property Manager
There’s no doubt that a great property management company can be an asset and can protect you as a landlord from the liability of navigating the rental and real estate laws in your area. However, hiring a property manager can be expensive depending on your budget and desired margins. If you are an ambitious self-starter, a quick learner, or have experience in the real estate industry, you may find it beneficial to self-manage your rental property.
Even the best landlord software won’t take the place of an experienced property manager, but it can bridge the gap for self-managing landlords who just need an easier way to keep track of their property, tenants, and financials.
Learn more: 5 Things You Must Do as a New Landlord
How do I find the best landlord software?
The best landlord software for you will be dependent on your specific needs. Evaluate must-have features and be honest about your budget. Keep in mind that a feature-rich landlord software will offer conveniences that can save you time and money long-term. Additionally, the best landlord software options will have the ability to track your financial and tax information so that you do not have to worry about paying for another bookkeeping or accounting software alongside your landlord software.
What are the best landlord software features out there?
Features are the most important aspect of choosing the best landlord software option. If your landlord software is feature-rich, you will be able to use it as your business and portfolio grows. If your software only offers a few basic features, you will find yourself needing other tools and solutions to keep track of all your business needs, and this leads to headaches or to-do’s falling through the cracks.
Here are some vital features that the best landlord software options will have:
- Full bank, property, and tenant accounting: You should be able to seamlessly navigate between properties, tenants, and other accounts, as well as generate ledgers, reports, and track expenses in one place.
- Track income and expenses: You should prioritize a software solution with a general ledger accounting system that has all the reports you and your CPA need. Bonus points if those reports are easy to understand; this makes tax time a breeze since you are able to assess your income and keep track of deductions easily.
- Ability to accept online rent payments: Online rental payments is an asset for landlords and tenants alike. Renters love the convenience of not having to drive across town to deliver cash payments or send a rent check in the mail. As a landlord, you will quickly notice that online payments really do increase the likelihood of on-time rental payments. This feature is a must since it’s a win-win for both parties!
- Market property vacancies: The best landlord software solutions will make it simple to create an online listing for your rental property, and will syndicate to top rental listing sites–meaning you can create an advertisement for a dozen real estate listing sites at once with just the click of a button.
- Tenant Screening: If you’ve been a landlord for a while, you know that finding a great tenant can make all the difference when it comes to your experience. Prioritize a software that offers comprehensive tenant screening reports. A good tenant screening report will give you a clear picture of your applicant’s financial and criminal history, allowing you to make the best decision for your rental business.
What other characteristics do the best landlord software options have?
A robust list of software features is vital to your success, but if a software option is difficult to use, too expensive, or doesn’t offer customer service when you need it, you’re less likely to find success as a landlord.
With this in mind, be sure to do your homework. Ask the sales representative what sets them apart from other companies and software options, and be sure to check for characteristics that will make that software great to work with.
Consider these characteristics when evaluating your options to find the best landlord software for your needs:
No startup fees:
Unless you have an extensive rental portfolio, landlords don’t often need expensive and time-consuming setup. Prioritize a software that will allow you to get started without making a big financial commitment to begin–after all, a great software company should be providing you with free tools to understand the software and get up and running quickly.
Easy to use:
As a self-managing landlord or investor, your time is your biggest asset. If your software isn’t easy to use, it’s not saving you time. This means that your software could be costing you valuable energy that should be spent cultivating your landlord-tenant relationship, growing your portfolio, or simply enjoying life without babysitting your software. Most landlords get into the rental business to generate passive income; if your software requires constant training and extensive upkeep, it’s not accomplishing that goal.
No customer service gatekeeping:
Being a landlord already has its share of stresses. Your software should be adding to your success, not a source of more confusion. The best landlord software companies know this, and won’t gatekeep amazing customer service behind a payment tier. All customers–regardless of portfolio size–should have access to live and helpful support staff throughout the workweek.
Trusted and established in the industry:
Software design is a tempting option for large corporate investors, and the plethora of options available for every need is indicative of that. Have you heard the phrase “there’s an app for that” before? There’s a reason we assume there is an app or software for every sort of problem. While this is generally very helpful, it can lead to large investors funneling a lot of cash into a product designed to corner a small chunk of the market only to be sold or disbanded a few years later to make a profit.
As a landlord, you don’t want to deal with the headache of switching your landlord software simply because some big-time investors decided to find a new project. New landlord software options are popping up all the time, but be sure you’re investing your time and energy into a software company that has shown they will stick around long-term.
Room to grow:
A great landlord software option will provide you with room to grow. If you were hoping to grow your portfolio, it’s important that you pick a software that will keep your time investment minimal–even as your portfolio grows. If you choose a software with fewer features, you will need to switch to a more robust option as your portfolio grows. This can be a hassle.
Instead, go with the software that supports small landlords and supports landlords with a bigger unit count. This way, you know that you have all the tools you need in your back pocket, and you don’t have to waste time trying to transition to a software that better supports your rental business in the future.