3 Ways Tech Innovations Help Landlords Better Manage Their Properties
Belong on Mar 1, 2022
From our guest blogger Grant McDonald, the Vice President of Corporate Development at 14th Street Capital, a run-down on how technology is making self-managing your own property that much easier.
I probably don’t need to tell you that being a landlord takes a lot of money and a lot of time. The average annual operating and capital expenditure can be around $2,000 - $3,000 per home. The amount of time it takes from your life is a little harder to quantify, but ask anyone who’s acted as a landlord – you’re sure to get an earful.
Just consider how much needs to be taken care of: getting the place ready; screening tenants; sending rent notifications; resolving maintenance issues; keeping detailed tax records. The list is immense and many landlords describe it as close to a full-time job.
For decades, outside of hiring a property manager, there wasn’t much a homeowner could do in terms of lightening their workload. Recently though, technology has begun to innovate aspects of property management, just as it is transforming other aspects of our lives.
While these new platforms don’t take on all the responsibilities of a property manager, they do make self-managing your own rental property that much easier and more efficient.
Let’s have a look at some of the ways in which technology is making a difference.
1. Online Property Management Platforms
Online property management platforms have emerged to meet the needs of DIY property managers. One place to start your research is Investopedia, who’ve done the digging and compiled a list of the 7 best software platforms for rental properties.
Each has different features and benefits, and some are designed for homeowners with multiple properties. What’s more, each requires a different level of technological sophistication, so we advise you to do your homework.
That said, there is a great deal of overlap when it comes to basic functions, like online rent applications; credit screening; billing functionality, and messaging. Some allow landlords to set their own standards, but be careful that you do nothing to violate Fair Housing Laws.
These online platforms allow homeowners to automate the screening process, so they can set their own standards in terms of potential residents’ credit scores, rental history, and employment details.
Landlords report that fulfilling and tracking maintenance requests consumes a huge amount of time – maybe more than any other single responsibility. So it's worth looking into how different platforms manage that process. Homeowners can accept and respond to tenant maintenance requests using online platforms. You also transfer the service requests to the contractors and craftspeople who will be fixing the problem from within many of these platforms; meanwhile, tenants can use them to make maintenance requests, keep track of the repairs, and provide feedback to landlords, which simplifies their lives a little, too!
Sometimes there is a standard maintenance form, but given the unique nature of each property and the wide variety of possible maintenance issues, I think you’ll find the ability to customize these templates is important. Though of course the customization process might take up some of the time you’re trying to save.
Bottom line: do your research.
The good thing about Investopedia is that unlike many “best of” websites, they aren’t an advertising website disguised as content. They have real editors and writers, so you can trust that what you read is objective and isn’t what’s called “pay to play.”
2. Cloud Storage
Online cloud storage platforms like Dropbox and Apple’s iCloud are useful for landlords in terms of keeping important documents safe, secure, and accessible from any device with an internet connection. They’re a great place to store tenancy documents, agreements, contracts, inspection reports, and other essential documents.
Some platforms even allow users to generate e-signature to digitally sign lease agreements and other essential documents. Landlords can also use DocuSign for that basic requirement, although many of the platforms described early include that option as well.
The nice thing about Cloud Storage platforms is that they also make life easier for both you and your residents. They can quickly find all the documents they need, while you are spared a string of tiresome requests.
3. Connected Devices to the Rescue
You may have heard about the IoT, or the “Internet of Things.” Devices like Alexa and Google Home are examples of the IoT; they’re connected, “smart” devices – or things, if you prefer – that send data up to the cloud and down to a smartphone, creating a virtual bridge between you, the cloud, and the device itself, no matter where you are.
For landlords, there are several applications of this core technology. For instance, there are smart water detectors and alarms that will notify both you and your tenant should there be a basement flood. Think of it as a technology insurance policy that can protect you from the devastating consequences of a broken pipe or hot water heater. Here’s a link to some of these surprisingly affordable and essential devices on Amazon.
There have also been breakthroughs in smaller and higher-resolution security cameras. These can be useful to landlords, but there are a lot of complexities around the legal implications. Belong has written about that on this blog, so check out this important context.
Smart door locks are another technological asset; here’s a link to some of the best as assessed by PC magazine. Landlords report that tenant “lock out” situations are a continual problem and distraction. These elegant solutions solve the problem!
Tech-enabled property management
In short, technology can make a landlord’s life easier. But nothing is easier than Belong, which is the first 21st truly tech-enabled property management system. Learn how Belong’s technology creates a new landlord experience, profoundly simplifying your life letting you enjoy the financial benefits of being a landlord, free of the stress and risk.