PROPERTY MANAGEMENT TOOLS FOR LANDLORDS
Managing your own rental properties can easily become a full-time job.
Between screening new tenants, handling maintenance requests, collecting rent, and handling tenant conflicts, you’ll have a lot on your plate of you take the self-management route.
Fortunately, there are landlord resources available to help you save time and money on property management.
Check out our Property Management Checklist and essential tools below to manage your rental properties with ease.
Essential Property Management Checklist for Landlords
There are loads of daily tools that real estate investors and property owners can use to effectively manage their properties, without the hassle.
Below is our Essential Property Management Checklist what outlines some landlord resources you can use at each step of the management process.
Marketing Your Property
Before you can start to “manage” your property, you’ll need to find a tenant (or tenants) to live in it.
Now, depending on whether you’re looking for long-term tenants or short-term tenants, there are different market tools you can use to find renters. You may not be a marketing pro, but these tools will help you set up your listings and reach a wider audience.
Keep in mind that for some of these tools, you will have to pay to play. However, you may find that it’s worth it to pay a few bucks per month to find a tenant that’s going to pay you hundreds to thousands of dollars per month in rent
PROPERTY MARKETING TOOLS:
- Referrals. Friends, family, past tenants, and other real estate industry professionals may send potential tenants your way. Reach out to possible referral partners to see if they will ask around on your behalf.
- Facebook Ads. Facebook allows you to pay for ads to marketing your listings across their platform. For just a few dollars, you can generate new tenant leads – though it’s always best to hire a Facebook Ads professional.
- Yard signs. Another classic marketing method, you can post yard signs on your property and in your local area to gain the attention of passersby.
- SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing method that works to attract online traffic to your website. If you have a website for your property, SEO may be a good way to get traffic from search engines like Google and Bing.
- Craigslist. Craigslist is definitely a platform for quantity, not quality, but if you don’t mind sifting through lots of prospective tenants, it may be worth posting a listing.
- Facebook Marketplace. You can market your listing for free on Facebook Marketplace. Just post a listing from your personal Facebook account, being sure to include a description and photos.
- Airbnb.com. Airbnb is an online platform that allows property owners to find short-term tenants. Tenants can reserve a stay as short as 1 night to as long as a few months at a time.
- Apartments.com, Rent.com, and Realtor.com. All of these websites allow you to create a unique listing and generate leads right through the platform. This is one of the best ways to reach more people organically.
Say you’ve found a possible tenant (or a few), and it’s time to screen them to make sure they are the right fit. Now the question is, how do you perform tenant screening?
The essential components to screening tenants include confirming rental history, confirming employment, running a background check, and running a credit check. What comes up during this screening will inform you of whether the person may be a responsible, safe, and reliable tenant or not.
The below tenant screening tools will handle some or all of these reports for you.
TENANT SCREENING TOOLS:
- E-Renter. E-Renter offers credit checks, criminal history checks, and other tenant screening service.
- TransUnion SmartMove. Offers a 3-step tenant screening process for landlords.
- MyRental. Considered the best overall tenant screening service, with eviction history, previous address history, terrorist check, multi-state criminal background check, and multi-state sex offender reports.
- TenantAlert!. Provides all-in-one tenants screening services starting at $24.95 per package.
- TurboTenant. Online tenant marketing, tenant screening, and landlord tools. Includes a free trial period.
“Do landlords actually call employers for background checks?”
Yes, but you don’t have to. It’s up to you whether you call an applicant’s employer or not. It is recommended, though, that you confirm employment and/or ability to pay rent.
Once you’ve screened a tenant, signed the lease, and confirmed a move-in date, you’ll need to make sure the property or unit is ready for move-in. To make it easy, we’ve outlined this Move-In Checklist.
What is a move-in checklist? It’s a list of items that you need to check off to make sure you don’t miss any important details before a new tenant moves in.
LANDLORD MOVE-IN CHECKLIST
- Remove garbage and debris
- Thoroughly clean the property
- Check for mold
- Repair any damages
- Examine heating, plumbing, and electrical
- Hire a pest exterminator (if needed)
- Conduct necessary property inspections (depending on your local laws, you may be required to hire a home inspector or Section 8 inspector if you are leasing to a Section 8 tenant)
- Review, sign, and date the lease agreement
- Collect security deposit and first month’s rent
- Change the locks and copy keys
- Go over the move-in checklist with the tenant to note the condition of the property upon move-in
- Introduce tenant to common areas, laundry room, gym, patios, etc. and provide access
- Give tenant your contact information
- Address any tenant questions, requests, or concerns
Collecting rent from tenants shouldn’t have to be a frustrating task. Wouldn’t it be great if you could send reminders every month and get paid on time, right to your bank account?
With rent collection tools, you can. Use the property management tools below to set automatic reminders, collect rent, and have the funds deposited directly into your account, without you having to lift a finger.
RENT COLLECTION TOOLS:
- AppFolio. This tool allows you to post vacancies, collect rent online, take online rental applications, screen tenants, and more.
- NestEgg. Coordinate all your rental tasks all in one place. Manage maintenance requests, access their 24/7 helpdesk, and get rent money deposited into your account on the first of the month.
- Rentalfy. Rentalfy is a residential property management app that allows you to collect rent, process applications, and run background checks online.
It’s always best to prevent damages before they happen. That’s where a preventative maintenance checklist comes into play.
What is a preventive maintenance checklist? It’s a step-by-step list on what to do to prevent damages and make sure your rental is in tip-top shape. You can also run through the checklist on a regular basis just to make sure everything is up to snuff.
PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST
- Check that locks on doors and windows are secure
- Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
- Clean the gutters on your building(s)
- Maintain shared washers and dryers (if applicable)
- Maintain shared gym equipment (if applicable)
- Maintain pool and hot tub (if applicable)
- Maintain heating and cooling systems
- Trim trees and clear natural debris
- Keep hot water heater running
- Address rodent and insect infestations
- Check for water damage, cracks, and leaks
- Provide trash receptacles and services
- Regularly check for mold (in bathrooms and kitchens, especially)
- Fix damaged light fixtures or missing bulbs in common areas
- Check that AC units are working (if applicable)
- Address any plumbing issues
- Conduct lawn maintenance (if applicable)
- “Winter-proof” your property with rock salt to avoid injuries
Much like the move-in process, you’ll need to conduct a move-out walkthrough when a tenant moves out. This is done so you can identify any damages right away. If damages were caused by the tenant, they may be taken out of their security/cleaning deposit.
- Confirm that last month’s rent is paid
- Remind tenant to cancel utilities and internet subscriptions
- Confirm what date and time the tenant must leave the property by
- Have tenant remove any personal items
- Give tenant move-out checklist for basic cleaning
- Get the carpets professionally cleaned
- Get the keys back from the tenant
- Issue any cleaning or repair charges to the tenant (if applicable)
- Conduct a move-out inspection and sign the agreement
- Refund the tenant’s security deposit (typically via mail to their new address)
Accounting and Taxes
As a landlord, you’re essentially running your own business by leasing out your property to tenants. For that reason, it’s important that you keep your accounting and taxes in check.
While there are a lot of DIY options, we believe that it’s best that you hire an accountant to help you make sense of your books. They will be able to draft up a rental property income expense worksheet for you to make sure that your expenses stay far below your income.
ACCOUNTING FOR LANDLORDS:
- Hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to handle your accounting
- Set up separate checking accounts for each property
- Make sure all deposits and withdrawals for your properties flow through those accounts
- Reconcile your accounts (with the help of your CPA) at the end of the year
It’s best that your rental property always be cash flow positive so you have money on-hand for repairs and ensure you’re always turning a profit.
As for taxes, if you earn an income from a rental unit, some of your expenses may be deductible. These may include your property tax, your mortgage interest, repairs, and other expenses.
Property Management Software
If you go the self-management route, having some property management tools on your side is your best bet. Software – especially online tools – make it easy to list your property, screen tenants, collect rent, and more.
If you’re looking for some all-in-one property management and maintenance software options, check out these recommended tools below:
Rental Property Calculators
As a property owner, you want to be sure that your property was a good investment. This means you need to determine whether your earnings on your rental properties outweigh the costs.
Fortunately, there are rental property calculators available to help you calculate the value of your rental home and how it may depreciate over time.
Rental Home Calculators
- Whether you’re a property owner who wants to self-manage, or an independent property manager, you can use any or all of the tools above to manage properties with ease. Find tools for marketing listings, screening tenants, collecting rent, staying on top of accounting, and more!