Landlords are required to wear several different hats from day to day, and it can easily feel overwhelming. It is, therefore, beneficial to turn to software to help manage certain aspects of your rental business, particularly in areas that can result in loss of income if not watched carefully.
Fortunately, with the growing number of entrepreneurs turning to real estate, the online software solutions on offer have become tailored to the specific needs of landlords.
Software is available for numerous aspects of the landlord’s needs, including marketing vacancies, sourcing and screening tenants, organizing rental contracts, managing rental and deposit payments, accountancy and maintenance requests.
This blog post takes a look at the most useful facets of these tools. Working smarter with tenant management software will free you up to focus on more important things in life.
1. Legal Forms
We have discussed in past blog posts the costly and time-consuming mistakes that are often the result of careless errors made by landlords who are not fully aware of the laws that apply in the states in which they rent property. The consequences of bad legal writing can be enormous.
Bad legal writing is no laughing matter. Courts throughout the country are losing patience with attorneys and their poor writing skills. As a result, judges are issuing public reprimands, requiring attorneys to take legal writing courses and dismissing complaints for committing crimes against the English language such as excessive spelling errors, bad grammar and poor organization. As paralegals, we can be invaluable resources to attorneys by editing legal documents before they leave our offices. Paralegal Today.
One of the best ways to make sure you are protected is to ensure that your lease agreement is state-specific, non-discriminatory and legally binding. There are several sites online offering “legal” contracts and forms for landlords, but these are often missing important elements that can leave you exposed to loopholes and unprotected in some instances. Of course, you can hire an attorney to draw up your legal forms, but this is likely to be an expensive process.
At LandlordStation, we offer instantly downloadable state-specific property management forms of the same standard that would be provided by a lawyer at a fraction of the cost. The forms cover every situation you will encounter as a landlord in each specific state.
Here is just a selection of what is available to you in seconds in Word or PDF formats:
- Residential rental lease application
- Salary verification for potential lease
- Tenant consent to background and reference check
- Residential lease agreement
- Lead-based paint disclosure for rental transaction
- Pre- and post-lease inventory checklist
- Landlord-tenant closing statement to reconcile security deposit
- Warning of default on residential lease
Knowing you are using forms that are legally accurate and correct for your state is a huge relief for many landlords.
2. Document Management and E-Signing
Purchasing a rental property, screening tenants and managing the ongoing needs of a rental business means one thing … a lot of paperwork. It can, therefore, be advantageous to use an online document management system to store and organize the files for each property, ideally in a secure cloud which can be accessed remotely.
LandlordStation offers this as a free service for landlords with 100mb of data. We automatically save files, such as completed tenant screenings, so you can access and review them at any time. Documents can also be signed virtually by tenants, cutting down the processing time and providing an organized procedure to allow new tenants to move swiftly.
E-signing is accomplished through Adobe EchoSign and is legally binding, as demonstrated here.
An electronic signature, or e-signature, refers to data in electronic form, which is logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign. This type of signature provides the same legal standing as a handwritten signature as long as it adheres to the requirements of the specific regulation it was created under. ~ [source]
It is simple to use, even on a tablet, and we have online customer support staff available to walk your tenants through the process if required. E-signing saves time and money, as it cuts out the need for printing, faxing, scanning and posting, which in turn also eliminates much of the waiting time.
3. Online Rental Collection
One of the most essential tenant management tools numerous landlords can’t live without is online rent collection. We have developed a complete, secure rent payment solution to electronically collect monthly rental payments, application fees and more.
This tool will streamline the entire process of money collection for your business. The software is easy to set up and integrate with your existing account dashboard, enabling you to organize multiple properties. Each tenant receives a unique login, allowing them to make payments directly to our system.
The online rental system provides an option to set up recurring payments as well as automatically send rental reminders and overdue notifications.
4. Tenant Screening
Be sure you know who you are allowing to live in your investment property by completing a thorough tenant screening. There are strict legal restrictions in this area, and it can be a minefield for landlords. This is why online rental applications have become so popular; they allow landlords to manage the entire process, gathering all of the vital information that is required from potential tenants.
The online rental application collates everything necessary to start the screening process:
- Credit score
- Criminal records
- Medical collections
- Employment history
- Known aliases
- Past address history
- Eviction history
LandlordStation offers a simple tenant screening process that covers all of these aspects and provides a final report for you to make a decision from. Then, once you have decided to accept a tenant, they can sign and submit the lease agreement online and so the cycle continues.
5. Visual Maintenance Requests
A few landlord software solutions offer a service allowing tenants to request maintenance to the property. They can upload an image of the issue along with details of what work needs to be completed. Local contractors can bid on the work and provide quotations. You can select from reputable tradesmen and arrange for the work to start without having to pick up the phone and organize numerous visits for quotations to take place ... which means planning for the contractors to be given access, receiving quotes and negotiating, let alone driving around to maintain the property yourself.
There are various online software solutions available to landlords which have been designed specifically for the purpose of rental businesses. They can streamline the process of tenant management, saving you time and money every single day.
Software can be used to market the vacancies in your rental properties, thoroughly screen potential tenants, source accurate legal forms as well as manage and store your documents securely via cloud-based storage.
It is even possible to use software for e-signing, which is legally binding and eliminates wasted time waiting around for printing and scanning. Online payments can be set up to receive rent while alerts can be sent to tenants that are late in paying.
Accounting software can probably save the most in terms of time. Some options automatically collate your transactions and draw up reports on the financial movements of your rental business. These can also be used when it is time to submit your tax return. Plus, as we saw, there is even an online solution that allows your tenants to upload images and requests for maintenance of your properties, allowing you to organize contractors to quote and complete the required work.
Administration that previously took days to complete can now be accomplished in hours, and it means the heart of your rental business can keep on beating. You can move new tenants into your properties quickly and efficiently, automating several of the ongoing processes and freeing up your time for other things. With so many fantastic options available, it makes sense to try them out and see what works for you.
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