Whether you’re a landlord or real estate investor with one or dozens of units, you understand the responsibilities that come with taking care of rental properties. From listing properties and collecting rents to managing tenant maintenance requests, it can quickly become a full-time job.
Rental property management software makes it easier to keep this part of owning a property from taking over your life. When you first start off using rental property management software, it often takes some upfront work because you have to use it to understand how well it works for your specific situation.
However, once you’ve started to use quality software, you may find yourself and your team having to spend less time on the headaches that often come with managing your rentals. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing that you have a system in place that can help you handle the unexpected.
13 Features In Rental Property Management Software That Make Your Life Easier
Rental property management software can include a huge range of features. Basic software will allow you to list properties, manage leases, and collect rent.
More robust software will allow you to manage hundreds of units at a time and facilitate communication with tenants and team members.
These are important features you may want to see in your rental property software.
1. Listing Services
When one of your units is available, you want to be able to list that unit easily. A good rental property management software will let you upload pictures, draft a compelling description, and clearly lay out applicant requirements.
Once you’re ready, it will send the listing to several major online listing services. This is an important feature for all landlords, even those with just a few units.
2. Application Collection
Most property management software will allow you to create, send and collect online applications. If you require a fee for your application, the management software will collect the fee as well. We recommend that all landlords prioritize this functionality.
3. Screening Capabilities
Every landlord needs to screen their tenants. Good property management software will allow you to run rental history, criminal history, and credit history checks on potential tenants. It will flag any possible issues so you can make better rental decisions.
4. Rent Collection
Many platforms allow tenants to pay their rent online. They also allow you to track deposits when tenants prefer to pay in check or cash. If you have more than one or two units, you’ll definitely want this feature in your management software.
5. Bill Payment
When you need to pay plumbers or property managers, the property management software can help you pay the invoices and appropriately account for the spending. If you manage dozens of units, an integrated bill payment system is a valuable feature. Landlords with fewer units may decide that a business checking account is just fine.
6. Lease Signing
Several property management software packages integrate document signing capabilities baked into their offerings. This can be especially valuable if you have many leases that need to be managed.
7. Document Organization
Property management software often allows you to organize photos, maintenance requests, applications, leases, and other critical documents in cloud software.
8. Tenant Communication
Tenants need a way to ask questions and report issues. Landlords who are house hacking or have a few tenants may give out their personal cell phone numbers, but that’s a system that you’re likely to outgrow.
A property manager likely has a system for managing this communication, but your property management software may also facilitate this kind of communication.
9. Team Communication
As your rental portfolio grows, so will your team of helpers. These people could include property managers in different states, maintenance, and business partners. Rental property software can facilitate some or all of this communication and help you collaborate so multiple people can see whether a task is complete.
10. Maintenance Reporting
Maintenance issues are a frequent headache for landlords who don’t have a system. Property management software can ease the headache by making it easy for tenants to report issues and share pictures. Landlords or property managers can triage the issues and hire an appropriate repair person to fix the issue.
Nearly all property management software makes it easy to report rental income. A few packages also have full accounting software and the ability to calculate depreciation and differentiate capital investments from maintenance expenses.
Property software that integrates business checking and lending can help you streamline the administrative burden of landlording. This can be particularly important for small landlords who don’t yet have a team to assist with bookkeeping and other administrative tasks.
13. Lease And Form Creation
Several of the more robust software packages include the ability to generate leases and rental agreements that fit the legal requirements that vary by state.
When your property management company generates legal leases, you can worry less about legal matters. This is great for mid-size landlords who can’t yet afford legal counsel of their own.
The following highlights recommended property management software based on the size of your rental portfolio and the features you likely need given your scale.
Best Software If You Own A Few Units
If you’re just getting started with real estate investing, you’re probably still learning what you can outsource vs what you can’t. These software products automate many of the administrative tasks associated with finding tenants, signing leases, collecting rent, and doing your bookkeeping.
At this phase, we recommend prioritizing listing, application collection, screening, rent collection, and basic accounting features. You probably don’t need to prioritize tenant and team member communication or other features listed above.
Without these features, you may need to field texts about leaky toilets from time to time, but these tools reduce the time you spend managing your properties with minimal cost. These are our top three recommendations for small landlords.
Baselane is a free property management software that integrates with a business checking account. For being free, Baselane offers a surprisingly robust system that manages basic bookkeeping, rent collection, and other facets of rental property finances. (Baselane makes money by charging tenants processing fees (2.99%) and through selling premium products.)
However, it doesn’t provide screening, application management, or listing services. Combining Baselane with a free service like Apartments.com could allow you to manage several units well.
Stessa is another free accounting software designed for small landlords. The company is an affiliate of Roofstock, a turnkey rental property service.
When you combine Stessa with Roofstock’s robust property management options, your landlording experience can be relatively passive.
Avail is a free property management system that includes rent collection, tenant screening, listing services, tracking maintenance requests, and other key features.
The Unlimited Plus version of the software costs $5 per unit per month and includes online lease signing, faster collection of rents, and the ability to create property websites.
Best Software If You Own A Dozen Or More Units
If you’re in this cateogry, you almost certainly need help from other people. These software suites allow you to communicate with a team and manage a portfolio of rental properties.
These property management software products have all the bells and whistles of professional management products. The difference is that these two packages have pricing that is friendly towards landlords with low double-digit units instead of hundreds or thousands.
Rentec Direct is a full-service property management software that integrates banking, rent collection, and tenant communication. Starting at $45 per month (and scaling with the number of units you have), the software includes an app.
The app can do everything from helping tenants report issues to helping landlords with marketing their properties. It also comes with robust accounting software specifically designed for DIY landlords.
Tenant Cloud offers a range of prices and features that will help small and mid-sized landlords manage their rental portfolio and scale for the future. It starts from $0 to $40 a month and also offers custom pricing for businesses.
Its e-signing capabilities, QuickBooks sync, and lease-generating capabilities are unique value-adds for landlords seeking to grow from a few units to dozens or more.
Best Software If You Have Dozens Of Units To Manage
With so many units, your management software needs to integrate seamlessly with your team’s rhythms. It needs to serve you, property managers, maintenance teams, and tenants.
Given the scale of your rental property business, you may want to choose a premium software package that allows for unlimited properties.
Appfolio is a premium property management software that manages everything from accounting and communication to managing a team. The software has robust workflows that can help landlords with hundreds of units manage their business efficiently.
They charge anywhere from $1.40 per unit to $3 per unit, per month.
Yardi Breeze manages marketing, rent collections, websites, communication, accounting, and more. With modest per-unit costs, this is a great choice for landlords with a large portfolio.
Yardi charges anywhere from $1 per unit to $400 per unit, per month.
Property Management Software That Works For You
Depending on how many rental units you have, figure out which software may best serve your needs so you can automate as much as possible. Perhaps you’re looking to scale and buy more rentals. If so, make sure your software can grow with you.
Even if you’re not looking to grow, having the proper software in place to help you communicate with tenants and your team can make your day-to-day a lot smoother and hassle-free.