Maintenance, Tenant Management

Manage Maintenance on Rental Property using Property Management Software

drill repairing apartment door

One of the most important – and dreaded! – aspects of being a landlord is the management of maintenance on rental property, especially tracking everything that needs to be completed.  Maintenance that isn’t taken care of can lead to further damage to a property (such as the problems a dripping sink drain can cause) and a building falling into disrepair. Unattractive, poorly kept buildings lead to dissatisfied tenants and difficulty finding desirable applicants.  Fewer options in applicants often results in tenants who don’t take care of your property.  It’s a vicious downward spiral.

Costs are a big factor for landlords no matter the size of their portfolio. Read our in-depth article on how much each of these products will cost.

One of many benefits to using a property management software tool is that many offer valuable features meant to help you handle the maintenance of your property. The best allow you to create a calendar, where you schedule routine events such as cleaning the moss off your building’s roof.  (I’m tipping my hand here that I’m in the Pacific Northwest!)  We also love any product that streamlines the process of fielding a repair requests from a tenant and coordinating the solution with the appropriate service provider.

In this article we’ll look at the best property management software tools out there and evaluate how they will help you manage the maintenance of your properties.

Read Also: Avoid costly repairs with a rental property maintenance checklist


The Best Property Management Software for Managing Maintenance on Rental Property

Best Overall for Maintenancebuildium property management software logoSign Up for Free Now –>
Best Free for Small Landlordsrentec direct property management software logoSign Up for Free Now –>
Best for MobileTenantCloud property management software logo
buildium property management software logo
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Our Criteria

Here are the factors we examined in considering which company offers the best solutions for managing maintenance on rental property:

  • Coordination – How easy is it to communicate with all necessary parties? Does the software platform bring you together with the tenant and your chosen service provider (plumber, handyman, etc) in one place so information & scheduling without a lot of back & forth?  
  • Photos & Videos – Does the service allow users to share photos and/or videos to make it easy for everyone to know what’s going on?  Which users – tenants, managers, landlords, vendors – can upload and view files?
  • Calendar – How does the service help landlords set reminders for routine maintenance, or just schedule a repair that’s not time-sensitive?  Is there some kind of maintenance dashboard that’s meant to help managers track outstanding and completed work?
  • Accounting – Can landlords create work orders and track expenses associated with a repair?  Can expenses be assigned to individual units and/or tenants so it’s easy to tell where you’re earning vs losing money?  Does the service pull together repair bills, other expenses, and rent (ideally received electronically) so that landlords can run meaningful financial reports and complete taxes easily?
  • Vendor Integration – Can you bring your service providers into the system in order to speed up communication?  Are there features that let landlords create work orders, receive bids, and pay vendors all from within the platform?
  • Extra Credit – Service provides an app
  • Extra Credit – Built-in inspection tools

Learn About Cost: The Best Online Rent Payment Service for Small Landlords


Maintenance on Rental Property: Head-to-Head Scoring on Features

Software
Product
AvailBuildiumRentec
Direct
Spark
Rental
Tenant
Cloud

Coordination8.597.5810
Photo/Video8.5107.5610
Calendar7.59.59810
Accounting71097.510
Vendors81097.510
Extra: App+2+2
Extra:
Inspections
+2+2
Total Score:39.552.5493752

Our Contenders:

Avail:

With Avail, you can advertise your property, find and screen tenants, sign leases, and collect rent, on any device, with tools built specifically for DIY landlords. Customizable state-specific lease documents are available, along with e-signing and document storage. Avail publishes your online listings to Zillow, Trulia and Hotpads, as well as to apartments.com. For more information, read our Avail Property Management Software Overview.

Buildium:

Buildium is property management software designed to support the larger DIY landlord and property managers. The software includes tools to help with accounting and bookkeeping, lease & document management, maintenance tracking, rental listings, applications and screening, and more. Read more in our Buildium Property Management Software Overview.

Buildium is a winner in our Best Online Rent Payment Service For Small Landlords

Rentec Direct:

Rentec Direct offers property management software and tenant screening solutions for landlords and real estate professionals to manage properties, tenants, and accounts online. Subscribers can collect rent payments, post vacancies, balance accounts, create reports, access tenant and owner portals, coordinate maintenance, accept rental applications online, and generate tenant screening reports. More information: Rentec Direct Property Management Software Overview.

Rentec Direct is a winner in our Best Online Rent Payment Service For Small Landlords

SparkRental:

With SparkRental’s landlord app, you can easily take care of everything from advertising your space to handling payments and sending notices. Note that SparkRental is currently undergoing an overhaul of their property management software. Our grades here reflect our prior experience with the software along with what information we have been able to learn about their new product so far. We will update this page once we get our hands on their new landlord software and tools. Learn more: SparkRental Property Management Software Overview.

SparkRental is a winner in our Best Online Rent Payment Service For Small Landlords

SparkRental is a winner in our Best Free Property Management Software for Small Landlords in 2020

TenantCloud:

TenantCloud is a full-service property management software tool that does a very nice job of meeting the needs of a landlords managing anything from a single home to several hundred units. There are features relevant to owner-managers as well as property managers. From rent-up of vacancies, to financial reporting, to maintenance coordination with service providers, TenantCloud offers valuable solutions. For more information read our TenantCloud Rental Property Management Software Overview.

TenantCloud is a winner in our Best Ways to Advertise Property for Rent

TenantCloud is a winner in our Best Free Property Management Software for Small Landlords in 2020

Maintenance on Rental Property: Criteria & Scores for the Best Software Products

We graded each of the software providers on five key features, on a 10-point scale, plus two bonus features.  Here’s how each can help you manage maintenance on rental property:

Coordination

All the communication associated with receiving repair requests, asking for clarification, arranging follow-up, and getting service providers up to speed and scheduled is very time consuming.  We find this process tedious and slow, and when we have separate communication threads with different people we’ve had misunderstandings.  We favor property maintenance management software that puts all this correspondence in one place, so it’s easy for everyone to follow.  Another great feature is the ability for tenants and service providers to talk and schedule directly. Making communication easy and clear helps any landlord charged with managing maintenance on rental property.

Avail – score: 8.5/10

Communication between landlords and tenants, and also service providers if desired, can all be done by instant message through the maintenance tracking portal.  Expenses and receipts can be logged as well, and everything is recorded in your account for future reference.

Buildium – score: 9/10

Residents, owners, management employees, and service providers can all participate in communications around a maintenance issue.  Buildium’s app is an added value here, as all this coordination can happen on the move, speeding up the process of getting repairs completed.  All parties can get updates by phone, tablet, or desktop.

SparkRental – score: 8/10

A completely redesigned product is on the way from SparkRental, and we’ll be excited to try it out and report in more detail. We asked about their plans for property maintenance management software and they described features similar to what you’d experience on AirBnB, where tenants and landlords can message each on the platform with text and email notifications.  All interactions are logged in the system.

TenantCloud – score: 10/10

TenantCloud boasts a very slick and user-friendly maintenance dashboard. Tenants select the category of repair needed and add detail, and attach useful photos and/or videos.  They can also indicate availability, indicate if there are any pets on the property, and grant permission for landlords and service providers to enter the unit.  Tenants and service providers can often communicate directly, making a landlord’s life easy.  Tenants can see the status of the maintenance task from their portal.

RentecDirect – score: 7.5/10

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, RentecDirect provides great tools for landlords and property managers with larger portfolios.  One function offered that most other services don’t is the ability to involve owners in the process of managing maintenance. The system also allows managers to assign a designated maintenance person to each property, and elect to have tenant requests routed directly to that contact.  Tenants can attach photos, and landlords can add bids and invoices.  The focus of RentecDirect’s property maintenance management software is tracking and reporting for managers and owners.  Notifications are through email, and there does not appear to be a central messaging portal for all parties.  One nice feature is that managers can note whether it’s ok to enter a property.

Best for Communication & Coordination:TenantCloud property management software logo

Photos & Videos

When it comes to communicating about repairs, every bit of information a landlord has helps him deal with the problem most effectively.  There are differences in the way our services handle the sharing of photos and videos.  We’ve looked at who makes it easiest for tenants, landlords, service providers, and – potentially – owners to get on the same page using these tools. Here’s how each service gives you visual tools to help manage maintenance on rental properties:

Avail – score: 8/10

Tenants can upload photos with their service requests, but it doesn’t appear that they can share video.  

Buildium – score: 10/10

The platform makes it easy for tenants, landlords, and service providers to share photos, videos, and other relevant documents.  Again, having these resources available via Buildium’s app is very useful.

SparkRental – score: 0/10

At this time there is no way to share media through SparkRental’s property maintenance management software.

TenantCloud – score: 10/10

Photos, video, and text messages are visible to everyone involved.  TenantCloud also has an app, giving all parties access to relevant information wherever they are.  We really like how attractive and intuitive TenantCloud’s interface is, as we believe it makes it easy for tenants, service providers, and landlords to do their part.

RentecDirect – score: 7.5/10

Tenants can share photos when they make repair requests on the system, however it doesn’t appear that they can share videos.  It’s possible to attach documents to the maintenance file, however this seems to be mostly for the purpose of tracking invoices, receipts, and notes.

Best for Photos & Video:TenantCloud property management software logo
buildium property management software logo

Also Read: Rental Property Management Software Overview


Maintenance Dashboard / Calendar

Remembering all of the current repair requests, on top of all routine maintenance events and inspections, is more than most landlords can manage.  Delaying or missing fixes results in unhappy tenants, and missed routine maintenance can result in damage to the building.  Property management software helps bring all of those tasks to one place so that managers can stay on top of important tasks, track progress, and store related notes and documents.  A dashboard that shows all maintenance items in one place is invaluable. Here’s how our contenders help track and schedule maintenance on rental property.

Avail – score 7/10:

Avail does give landlords the ability to track notes and costs associated with maintenance tickets, however there is no calendar or dashboard function to help schedule and track tasks.

Buildium – score: 9.5/10

One of Buildium’s strengths is that maintenance tasks can be handled from a desktop or mobile device.  Priority level, due dates, and more are documented and shared with the appropriate parties.  Routine events are easy to enter in the system so you always remember to have the lawn mowed or the gutters cleaned.  We haven’t confirmed that Buildium gives you the ability to set reminders and alerts so that current and routine tasks are all together at your fingertips, however given how thoughtful the product is we assume so. Buildium is a powerful tool for landlords managing maintenance on rental properties.

SparkRental – score: 8/10

All documents and communication is stored in each tenant’s file so that it’s easy to find. SparkRental also has a scheduling feature for routine maintenance.  We’re going to come back to see whether they roll out a more comprehensive maintenance dashboard in their new software.

TenantCloud – score: 10/10

We’re big fans of TenantCloud’s maintenance dashboard.  Landlords can manage all communication and scheduling in one place, and there is a handy widget that shows all tasks: new, in-progress, resolved, and deferred.  Each repair is assigned a priority level so that it’s clear at a glance what needs to be done first.   At the $9/mo subscription level TenantCloud makes it possible to synch maintenance tasks to their Google calendar.  And again all this is all available from anywhere on your mobile device.

RentecDirect – score: 9/10

Features are particularly valuable to professional property managers or owners with larger portfolios.  A work order for each repair is created, and assigned to the appropriate property.  A maintenance manager can be assigned to a task, or forwarded to them automatically if desired.   While we see no function to schedule routine events, we believe this feature is included.

Best for Scheduling:TenantCloud property management software logo

Also Read: The Best Tenant Screening Service for Small Landlords


Image courtesy of JESHOOTS.COM

Accounting

Tax time is an unpleasant time in any case, but it’s definitely worse if you’re scrambling around trying to find paper receipts and piece-together rental income. Property management software makes it easy to upload invoices and receipts to individual maintenance tasks. Assuming you’re also collecting rent online, it’s quick and painless to run reports showing income and expenses.  The best property maintenance management software helps landlords track maintenance on rental property by recording costs at each building and unit.

Avail – score: 6/10

We really like the Avail product and hate to give it a lower score, but accounting features are thin on their platform.  Aside from tracking expenses related to each maintenance task, Avail offers little financial functionality.

Buildium – score: 10/10

Because Buildium is built so that it can be used to manage medium-to-large portfolios, the financial features they offer are thorough.  Landlords can track vendor efficiency by reviewing the history of jobs performed and considering the completion speed and cost.  Requests are converted to work orders, work orders converted to bills, and payments are issued (via ACH) – all through the maintenance portal.  When we write about financial features each of these software providers offers (next week) we’ll talk more about accounting, reporting, tax support, and payments.

SparkRental – score: 7/10

Currently landlords have to manually log expenses to each unit’s rent ledger. From there Income & Expense and Schedule E tax reports can be run.

TenantCloud – score: 10/10

When a tenant submits a service request the landlord assigns that job to one of the service professionals they’ve entered in the system (entering a new pro is easy), and materials and labor are logged.  Landlords pay vendors directly through the platform, and can bill tenants for any expenses they’re responsible for.  All this financial data is tracked by property and unit, making it easy to run tax reports and analyze how a property is doing.  There’s lots more to say about TenantCloud’s accounting features, which we’ll discuss in our upcoming article.

RentecDirect – score: 9/10

RentecDirect helps managers and landlords manage maintenance on rental properties by giving them the ability to track expenses and document bids & invoices.  All financial data is assigned by building and unit.  Owners can also review and approve work orders, improving a property manager’s efficiency in clearing maintenance and repairs.

Best for Accounting:TenantCloud property management software logo
buildium property management software logo

Also Read: Navigating New Rental Laws Using Property Management Software


Vendor Integration

Service providers are one of the three parties commonly involved in the maintenance process and the more they are integrated into the process of managing requests from tenants the easier it’s going to be on property owners or managers. Here’s how each product helps embed vendors in the maintenance on rental property.

Avail – score: 7.5/10

Landlords enter their favorite service providers into the system and bring them into the conversation with tenants as they see fit.  New vendors are easy to add.  There is no way to pay vendors through the platform.

Buildium – score: 10/10

Preferred service providers can be assigned to specific properties and it’s easy to involve them in when fielding repair requests from tenants.  As mentioned above in the accounting discussion, vendors develop a record in the system that allows landlords to evaluate their performance. Payments are made directly through the system, by ACH transfer from bank account to bank account.

SparkRental – score: 7/10

While we haven’t seen it yet, SparkRental will build a “maintenance concierge service” into their new product offering.  This feature will “handle basic repairs and maintenance on behalf of the landlord”.

TenantCloud – score: 10/10

Landlords bring their service providers into the system, allowing them to involve them directly with tenants in resolving any maintenance issues.  Payments are made directly to vendors by ACH transfer through the system.

RentecDirect – score: 9

Many property management companies have maintenance people on staff, or standing contracts with chosen partners. Their software, consequently, is tailored to shepherding work orders through to completion. This includes the ability to assign maintenance staff to particular buildings, and tools to record bids, invoices, and photos. Owners can approve work through their portal. It does not, however, appear to be possible to pay service providers directly from the software platform.

Best for Vendor Integration:buildium property management software logo
TenantCloud property management software logo

Also Read: The Best Online Rent Payment Service for Small Landlords


Extra Credit: App?

Being able to retrieve and record information on the fly is great when it comes to efficiency and organization.  Communicating with tenants and service providers on the fly keeps keep the maintenance ball rolling.  We give extra points to the services that let you take property management on the road.

Buildium – score: 2/2

TenantCloud – score: 2/2


Extra Credit: Inspection tool?

Conducting routine inspections, whether quarterly, yearly, or at turnover, is vital to staying on top of property maintenance – and it also helps you detect tenants who are abusing your investment before things get too bad. Electronic property inspection tools – which integrate photos and video – are helpful in documenting how tenants leave their units as well as other maintenance, repair, landscaping, or cleaning issues you see on inspection.  Products that have this feature built-in get an extra thumbs up from us.

Buildium – score: 2/2

Buildium has partnered with HappyCo to provide inspection features.

RentecDirect – score: 2/2

ZInspector powers RentecDirect’s inspection features

Also Read: Save money on turnovers with a tenant move-in checklist


Managing Maintenance on Rental Properties: The Bottom Line

We’re strongly in favor of any resource that makes managing maintenance on rental property easy, fast, and cost-effective.  The software providers here all have a lot to offer when it comes to coordinating all the people involved in repairs, tracking the progress, and recording results and costs.  Hopefully we’ve helped you choose a product that will make property management easier and more efficient.  

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any input or questions!  info@landlordgurus.com

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and Landlord Gurus may earn a commission. Our mission remains to provide valuable resources and information that helps landlords manage their rental properties efficiently and profitably. We link to these companies and their products because of their quality, not because of the commission.

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About Eli Secor

Eli comes from a family of real estate investors, dating back several generations. He currently manages his own multifamily property, apartment buildings for clients, and commercial spaces. He has particular expertise in the construction and maintenance arena, having spent almost 20 years in the construction fields.
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