A landlord’s job is never done. While owning property might seem like a great way to make some passive income, the reality is that you’ll have to actively solve problems when you work with tenants. What’s more, you’ll have to balance caring for your property and keeping renters safe — which can often be more difficult than it sounds.
That’s especially true if you’re doing things the old-fashioned way. Landlords and property managers who still keep paper records or will process payments only via check are making things harder for both themselves and their tenants. If this scenario sounds familiar, it might be time to turn to technology. Here are a few ways that technological tools can improve your property management and tenant relationships without adding extra work to your plate.
Use Digital Applications and Screening Software
You’ll want to avoid long vacancies if at all possible, as this translates to lost income. Understandably, you’ll want to remove all barriers to the application process and ensure you can get your unit rented as quickly as you can. One of the best ways to do this is to offer a digital application on your website or by sharing an editable document. This will allow you to quickly collect documentation and alleviate any delays in screening an applicant. That way, you won’t have to wait for hard copies to be sent over or even meet up to sign a lease in person.
Before you ever agree to rent a unit to a tenant, of course, you need to feel reasonably secure that they’ll be able to pay their rent on time and that there are no criminal red flags in their background. Since 30% of Americans have poor or bad credit, this can provide you with the information you need to make the right choice when renting out your property. There are many screening services you can use to access your prospective tenant’s credit score, history of evictions or bankruptcies, and serious criminal history. In some cases, these packages require the tenant to pay the screening fee, which can make embracing technological tools even more feasible for you.
Use an Online Maintenance Request System
Although 25% of organizations never even test their disaster recovery system, landlords need to be on top of maintenance tasks to prevent disasters. If a tenant has tried calling, texting, and emailing to no avail, they’ll quickly become frustrated; in some cases, they could even take you to court for failing to fix a dangerous problem.
Unfortunately, it’s easy for maintenance requests to fall through the cracks — particularly if you own or manage a number of properties and the problem doesn’t necessarily present a health and safety issue. It’s also more difficult for both tenants and property managers to keep track of requests if there are several channels for this type of communication. Therefore, it’ll be to your benefit to invest in some kind of maintenance tracking software that tenants can access to submit requests and that will allow everyone to track the status of the issue until it’s resolved. If you rely on contractors to complete this kind of work, this can provide you with greater visibility, as well.
Collect Rent Payments Online
Although some tenants may prefer to pay their rent via paper check, most have warmed to the idea of being able to make electronic payments for improved expenditure tracking. Rather than be worried about their rent payment getting lost in the mail or forgetting to send it in, tenants can easily use an online portal to pay their rent each month. Some programs will even send out payment reminders or allow for automatic funds transfers; landlords might offer incentives for paying rent early or setting up automatic transfers, which can be a good way to keep tenants around.
Keep in mind that 40% of consumers claim they’d stop doing business with a company if that business previously suffered a security breach. When choosing a platform for electronic payments, make sure to conduct thorough research and provide alternative options for tenants. The goal here is to ensure making payments is easy for everyone. This technology can keep you from having to track down payments from forgetful tenants or even prevent the need for eviction notices to be served.
Install Smart Home Tech to Attract Tenants
While there are several platforms you can use to streamline your operations, don’t forget that tech is also highly appealing to renters. While installing smart home technology might represent an added expense upfront, keep in mind that these upgrades can allow you to increase the price of the monthly rent. And if your properties are located in areas that attract a younger and more affluent crowd, this can pay off (literally).
Smart security systems are definitely a perk for many tenants, as are smart thermostats and energy-saving appliances. While you don’t have to include a Google Home with every apartment, these devices can provide a greater sense of comfort and safety while allowing tenants to save money on their energy bills. If you’re responsible for controlling and paying for heating and cooling within your units, installing a smart thermostat or smart appliances can allow you to save money, too. Tenants will often love the idea of reducing energy waste, so that alone could be enough to sway them. Even smart lighting can be a real selling point. Don’t underestimate technological home features if you’re giving available units a facelift.
Being a landlord is never an easy job, but utilizing available technology can make your life a whole lot simpler. Don’t forget about these tech tools when you’re taking a closer look at your business practices or making improvements to your apartments and condos this year.