Are you overwhelmed with your landlord duties? Are you looking at technology to make life as a property investor easier? If you’ve ever wondered how other landlords get things done without becoming overwhelmed, here are 8 essential technologies they use.
1. Online rent collection software
Even when you make rent due on the first of the month, tenant checks won’t all be delivered on the same day. Some people mail checks early, while others mail them the day rent is due or even a day late. Do you check your box a couple days after rent is due, or do you check every day until all rent has come in? Either way, wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to check the mail at all?
If you’re burdened even slightly by having to check the mail more than once to collect rent from your tenants, you need online rent collection software. If you’re tired of chasing after late rent and being haggled about late fees, you need online rent collection software.
You might already know that property management companies collect rent online and it saves a tremendous amount of time. For instance, Green Residential collects rent online from tenants in Katy, Texas and even distributes the rent to landlords electronically. However, you don’t need to be a property manager to utilize online rent collection services. While some rent collection applications require a minimum number of tenants, others don’t.
Research the various rent collection applications to see which one is right for you. Here’s a summary of three applications:
Cozy is a rent collection program that provides free ACH transfers and offers a paid upgrade to speed up collection time. If a tenant uses a credit card to pay the rent, Cozy charges the tenant a 2.75% fee.
Zillow Rental Manager
Zillow provides free ACH transfers, but tenants are charged a 2.95% fee for using a credit card and $9.95 for using a debit card.
Rentler is another online rent collection application that provides free ACH transfers and charges tenants 2.9% to use a card (debit or credit).
Of the above three online rent payment solutions, Zillow is popular, but Cozy and Rentler are the better options. One reason is that Cozy and Rentler allow for multiple payments per lease. For example, say you have a tenant that needs to pay the rent from two different bank accounts. Or, say you have two renters who each need to make separate payments. Your tenants can make as many payments from as many accounts as it takes to pay the rent. Zillow only allows one payment total.
Another reason Cozy and Rentler are the better options is because they both apply late fees automatically after a grace period you specify. Zillow doesn’t provide this feature. Cozy and Rentler also allow for tenants to have a credit in the system if they overpay; Zillow doesn’t. Zillow also doesn’t keep track of tenant security deposits.
There are other rent collection applications on the market, so do your research before committing to any particular program.
2. Smart home tech
The global market for smart home technology is expected to grow 16.9% through the end of 2023. That growth rate can translate to pretty profits for landlords willing to equip their rentals with smart technology. Statistics show that homes equipped with smart technology rent faster than homes with outdated appliances and standard features.
Busy people want convenience more than anything today and smart home tech is one way to deliver that convenience. Many landlords install smart technology that can be controlled by a mobile app, including:
- A smart thermostat
- A smart coffee maker built into the wall
- Smart refrigerators and freezers that alert you when the door is left open; some refrigerators reveal the contents when you tap on the door
- Smart lighting systems
- Smart video surveillance systems that stream in real-time
- And more
If you’re a landlord who wants the financial advantage of installing smart home tech in your rental units, make sure you review the security risks with your tenants before signing the lease. While you’re legally responsible for maintaining the devices at a functional level, make sure your tenants know what their part is to keep smart home tech secure.
3. Smart security systems
Landlords love smart security systems, especially in common areas. Landlords need to make sure their building isn’t being accessed by people who don’t live there, or guests who are up to no good.
In the last few years, many landlords have installed high-tech biometric security systems in common areas like mailrooms, lobbies, and community areas.
While some tenants don’t like high-tech security systems, others don’t seem to mind because they want to feel safe. However, A New York court recently ruled against landlords using facial recognition security systems, so talk to a lawyer (and your tenants) before installing a biometric system.
On the upside, your tenants might be happy to have their standard door lock replaced with a smart security lock to feel safer. In some areas, landlords aren’t allowed to install a smart lock until a unit is vacant, so check your local laws first.
4. The internet
It’s understandable that landlords want to know what kind of people they’re renting to. Landlords can use the internet to research prospective tenants, provided they don’t use what they find to discriminate against anyone. Most legal experts advise landlords not to research tenants on social media simply because a tenant might claim discrimination (even when it’s not true). However, many landlords disagree and research tenants anyway.
You can find out just about everything about people online through social media and searching for their name in search engines. Just proceed with extreme caution.
5. Digital marketing software
Landlords are some of the busiest business owners around. Many have started embracing software to market vacancies and stay in communication with tenants. For example, many landlords use CRM software to manage the flow of leads. Who’s hot? Who’s not? Your web form questions combined with the right CRM software will help you figure that out.
Communicating online with tenants and prospective tenants is also a time saver for landlords. Landlords that keep communications online can rent vacant units faster, thereby decreasing the amount of time a unit sits empty.
6. Investing apps
There are plenty of applications for landlords who are serious about investing. For example, Property Fixer is an app that supports investors that flip homes either from short sales, foreclosures, or any other deals. This app projects potential profits and helps investors calculate the cost of a potential project to determine ROI.
The app from Auction.com is used by investors who want to spot the latest property deals in specific locations. With Auction.com, investors can see pending foreclosures available to purchase and transactions can be conducted online.
Other apps exist to alert investors when commercial properties become available, and others provide educational material to investors to learn more about real estate from experienced professionals.
7. Online scheduling software
Landlords use online scheduling software to keep track of client meetings, meetings with other investors, special rent due dates, tenant repair and maintenance appointments, and a variety of other duties.
Keeping track of time-sensitive tasks in an online system is ideal because appointments can be synced to mobile devices with alarms so nothing is overlooked.
8. A full-service property management company
One of the most brilliant technologies landlords are using is the full-service property management company. Unlike an individual property manager, a full-service company provides landlords with everything they need – including all the software applications that make landlord life easier. Except the property management company handles everything from tenant screening and credit checks to collecting rent online.
One of the best benefits of working with a property management company is getting paid online. Just like they collect rent from tenants online, they’ll distribute your payments online as well. Nobody has to mail checks, check the mailbox, or stand in line at the post office.
Technology will continue to support landlords
While landlords are collecting rent online and managing tenant needs online, they’re also using software to find additional investments and learn more about the real estate industry.
Technology is progressing at a rapid rate and it’s safe to say that, eventually, there will be an application to help landlords manage every aspect of their duties. For now, the technologies listed in this article are the most popular among both new and seasoned landlords.
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