Chris and Eli from Landlord Gurus talk about the benefits of using property management software to help manage rental property maintenance. Eli recently wrote an article about the best products available, and how to choose the one that’s right for you and your portfolio.
Read the article: Manage Maintenance on Rental Property using Property Management Software
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Chris Lee: Hi there. We’re Chris and Eli from Landlord Gurus. Today we are talking about rental property maintenance and how to stay on top of those routine and unexpected tasks. We think keeping up with repairs obviously saves time and money in the long term, and also helps keep and attract high quality tenants for your rentals. We’ve previously written about having a rental property maintenance checklist to help landlords avoid costly repairs. And we’ll include a link to that below the video here as well.
But today we’re mostly talking about property management software as a tool to help landlords handle their rental property maintenance. Eli just wrote an article on landlordgurus.com comparing some of the top software providers and how each of them handles rental property maintenance within their systems. So Eli, what criteria did you look at when comparing and analyzing and which companies really stand out to you?
Eli Secor: Thanks, Chris. We looked at five different criteria that we thought were the most important in choosing a product to help us with rental property maintenance. First, and I think most important, is the factor of communication and coordination: how well the product helps streamline the process of coordinating things. One great feature is the ability for tenants to make maintenance requests directly. It shields you from that late night text or phone call through the software interface. Also, it’s a pain in the neck to assess what needs to be done and align the schedules of tenants and service providers. So we looked at how well each product helps you do that.
CL: Yeah, we all hate getting those late night phone calls, don’t we. What else do you got for us?
ES: About the worst part. As a part of that, photos and videos were one criteria that we looked at. A picture paints a thousand words or whatever it is they say. It’s much easier to see what a problem is when you can have a video of a dripping shower head, or a crack in the wall or whatever it may be. So we favor tools that let landlords, tenants and repair people share media that streamlines that process.
Scheduling and keeping a calendar was a factor that we looked at. Whether it’s tracking routine or seasonal maintenance tasks or responding to some urgent maintenance requests from a tenant. Now, any tool that helps schedule everyone involved is really critical to running things efficiently. Especially useful are features that let tenants and service providers coordinate their schedules directly instead of involving a landlord. You can kind of sit back and watch it happening so you can direct it if need be, but, you know, direct coordination is great.
We also looked at accounting as a factor in our evaluation. When a landlord can attach receipts to a given property or a unit and see what any individual repair costs, it’s really helpful to evaluating your business effectively. Even better is a feature that lets you create work orders or receive invoices and pay vendors directly through your property management software platform.
CL: Yeah. It’s also great for year end tax prep, and it’s all there in one place. Some of them, it sounds like, you can create schedule E’s and 1099s directly from the software as well.
ES: Yeah that’s true, several of them do. The last factor we looked at in evaluating these products was vendor integration. With some services landlords can enter their vendor contact data and even banking information in the system. So it’s all held there. When you can assign tasks to preferred service providers, coordinate communication and scheduling, and conduct the whole transaction in one place, rental property maintenance becomes a lot smoother.
CL: Right. Eli, how about other features like having a mobile app for those of us that like to do our maintenance tasks or run our properties on the go?
ES: Yeah. Mobile functionality was one of two areas where we give some bonus points. Two of the products, TenantCloud and Buildium, offer an app. Tenants – especially younger tenants – love running everything through their mobile devices and in particularly through apps. And as a landlord, you can send out a message to a service provider or shoot a picture to somebody, or receive a message on the go and you don’t have to wait and remember what for, when you’re back at your desk.
The second bonus point question was whether or not the product had an inspection tool. Some of these products give you the ability to have a whole checklist that you and the tenant will fill out at the beginning of a tenancy. You can revisit it mid-tendency and then fill it out at the end so that it’s really clear who might’ve caused any damage, and you can charge for that appropriately. And these tools also provide the ability to upload videos or photos, which like we talked about, it makes everything a lot easier.
CL: Yeah. We actually wrote an article previously on having a rental property maintenance checklist as we discussed before. And we’ll also link to that. All those features that you talked about sounds great. Honestly it sounds maybe like it’s expensive? I don’t know. What about costs?
ES: Yeah, it does not need to be expensive. All of these products offer either free subscription levels which you can run anywhere from one, two, or – I think TenantCloud will allow you to run 75 different units on a free subscription. And then, there are features that many people find valuable enough that it makes sense to spend a little bit of money each month to have those features. So it’s a big factor. We’re really only talking about maintenance in this article, but we’ve written a really comprehensive article – Chris, that’s one of your articles – on the breakdown of how each of these products charges and what they cost. So you’ll want to weigh features and consider cost as one of those.
CL: We’ll put a link to that article as well. So after all this, what did you determine as the best product for helping landlords manage their rental property maintenance?
ES: We have a few winners actually, for different reasons. The best overall we thought was Buildium. They have a full set of features to help with managing rental property maintenance, and including both of the bonus points elements – the app and an inspection tool. The best free product we thought was Rentec Direct. They offer a lot without any charge at all. And the best for mobile was a tie. That’s the products that have an app. That’s between Buildium and TenantCloud.
CL: Okay. So it looks like there are several that do a good job of providing tools for you to stay on top of your rental property maintenance tasks. We will post a link to the full article below. And we encourage you to take a look at the property management software products that Eli has recommended. As you said before, some of them offer free versions or free trials. So we think that’s a great way to just jump right in and take a look and see for yourselves what you think. And that’s about it. So thanks for watching. Let us know in the comments if you have had an experience before with these or any other software providers for managing your rental property maintenance. Otherwise, we will see you again soon. Thanks again.
ES: Thank you. Bye bye.
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