Property Management Software
Anyone who manages properties using spreadsheets or manual systems can tell you it’s a lot like juggling. It’s hard work to keep up with repairs, rent payments, new tenants, old tenants, renewals, licences, certificates, tax returns, and those are just a few of your responsibilities.
Most landlords find admin the most tedious part of property management; after all, that’s not why you became a landlord. Your portfolio is meant to represent an investment for the future and should not take up all your time.
This is where property management software comes in. Many types of landlord software are available to help reduce your administrative burden and put control firmly back in your hands.
Here we’re going to dive into what landlord software is, the benefits of using it, and how to choose the right software for your property business.
What is Property Management Software?
Like any software, there are subtle differences that set landlord software solutions apart. More generally, property management software is meant to be a programme that keeps all your property information in one place.
The idea is that instead of having lots of separate spreadsheets and files and programmes, everything you need can be done in one place. Here are some of the different types of property management software you’ll find on the market:
Free Landlord Software
Believe it or not, there are a few free solutions out there, but when it comes to property management, you get what you pay for. Free solutions are usually perfect for small landlords with one or two properties.
They tend to be limited in features, which is fine if you’re just getting started. Free software is usually offered by companies as a way to upsell you to their more expensive plans.
Modular Landlord Software
Another common type of landlord software on the market is modular software. This is property management software with very basic features at its core and the ability to bolt on more complex features for an additional fee.
Modular software is great for landlords who aren’t sure what features they will benefit from. They can experiment with the basic package and add new features as they need them.
Modular type software isn’t great if you’re a landlord looking for all the bells and whistles as it can get expensive quickly when you’re adding lots of bolt-ons to your package.
Dashboard-Type Landlord Software
There are a few types of software that revolve around a dashboard-type setup. The dashboard usually looks very sleek and contains some pertinent information about a portfolio to give landlords a quick way to keep in touch with their properties.
While these are great for data-driven landlords, they tend to be quite shallow in terms of functionality. These types of software are beneficial for landlords who are just getting started or landlords who are using letting agents and just need to see an overview of their portfolio.
All-in-One Property Software
Some software packages are designed to help you manage everything in one place for one price. These give you access to all the key features you need, but they are designed to ensure that you don’t need to pay any extra for bolt-ons, additional users, accounting software, etc.
These types of software are perfect for self-managing landlords, landlords with large portfolios and even smaller landlords who are planning to grow.
Why Use Property Management Software?
As with any new software, there can be a learning curve, so why spend the time and patience picking up a new system, especially if your current one isn’t exactly broken?
Save Property Information in the Cloud
Anyone who’s ever lost a document (or worse yet, a bunch of documents) due to an impromptu computer crash can tell you that saving your data in the cloud is far preferable! When you use cloud-based software, you can rely on your property data not to get lost. Not only that, but you know exactly where it is when you need it and have access wherever you need it.
If you’re using all-in-one software, you should be able to store documents, safety certificates and all kinds of pertinent property information in the software. So, if you suddenly have to find your insurance policy number, you know you’ll be able to find it in your software. If you need to refer to a specific tenancy agreement, it’s in your software.
Need to remember the alarm code? Utility supplier? Bin day? Stop cock location? It’s all in your software. With cloud-based software, you can log in wherever you are, on whatever device you’re using and find the information you need.
Making Tax Digital is Coming
You wouldn’t be alone if you haven’t heard of Making Tax Digital (MTD), but it is coming. This is a project being handled by HMRC to digitise tax returns. The idea behind this is that it will reduce mistakes and will require a quarterly submission to HMRC to enable taxpayers to spread their tax payments across the year rather than paying in one lump sum.
In addition, the new rules will require landlords to submit their tax returns using MTD compatible software.
The rollout of MTD has now been put in place for VAT registered businesses, and that rollout taught us that many people were unprepared. Lots of VAT registered businesses found themselves having to find and get used to new software very quickly in order to submit their returns.
Non-VAT registered landlords can avoid the stress by finding and getting to grips with new software way ahead of the rollout for individuals and make the transition totally painless.
Automating Admin and Saving Time
Hands down, the biggest benefit of using landlord software is its organisational and time-saving abilities. Aside from keeping everything in one place for easy retrieval, good software has powerful task management abilities.
This means that you can leverage tools that can set and forget reminders, add recurring invoices, send bulk emails, create tenancy agreements, and more. Those things that seem to take an age in a spreadsheet can be done with software in a fraction of the time.
While it can take a while to get used to a new software system, the initial investment in time pays dividends in saved admin down the line.
Build Audit Trails Without Trying
It is becoming increasingly important to keep audit trails for your business. Keeping track of communications from supplier emails to tenant emails can save time and stress if anything is disputed. Good landlord software will allow you to document your communications easily for retrieval at a later date.
Some software will also include a tenant portal, allowing your tenant to log into the software. This can give tenants access to important information about the property, such as alarm codes, insurance details, safety certificates, etc.
The best systems also allow tenants to raise maintenance issues and communicate with the landlord via the software, keeping an automatic audit trail of communication.
How to Find the Right Property Management Software?
There are a lot of property management solutions out there, and they are not all created equal! So how do you find the one that’s right for you without signing up to all of them?
Property Management Features
First, you need to understand what it is you want from your property management software. If you’ve got a small portfolio, you may just want a simple solution, so choose to look for simple software.
If you’re a growing landlord and it’s important to you that the software can accommodate your growing portfolio, look for one that will scale with you in terms of price and features. If you’re using a letting agent and tend to be hands-off, you might find that dashboard-type software works better for your needs.
If you are self-managing or using a letting agent and you want deep insights to help you grow your profits, you will need more in-depth software with reporting features.
Support With Your Property Management Software
Once you’ve found a few different types of software that have the features you need, look into their support availability. If you’re technically savvy, then you might be fine with email or live chat support.
If you’re new to the software, though, you might prefer to be able to pick up the phone and speak to people. Some software providers charge for support or training, so you should consider when deciding which software to use.
Most software providers will have a bank of video or text tutorials to help you get up and running quickly. It can often be worth checking these out before you sign up. If they are easy to find, it’s a good sign that the company are invested in helping their customers to get started painlessly.
Look for Software with a Free Trial
The look and feel of software can be very important. If you log into your new software and find that it’s not very intuitive, it can really hamper your ability to begin using it. If the look and feel of the software are very important to you, look for landlord software that offers a free trial.
That way, you can get in there and take a look around before you commit to buying a subscription.
Shameless Plug for Landlord Vision
At Landlord Vision, we’ve been making software for landlords since 2002!. We created this guide to be as useful and impartial as possible to help you find the right software without steering you towards any particular provider.
However, we’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t mention the software that we’ve built, especially for landlords and refined over the last twenty years!
Landlord Vision is a cloud-based all-in-one software with a built-in accounting engine. Our goal is to allow landlords to truly do everything in one place.
Landlord Vision allows you to manage tenants and suppliers. You can also give your accountant access to the reports and statements they need. Invite as many people as you like to use the software and help you manage your portfolio at no extra cost.
Landlord Vision has a state-of-the-art built-in accounting engine that produces financial reports at the touch of a button. Record your income and expenditure in the software and reconcile your bank statements with integrated live banking feeds. You can also collect your rent via direct debit and the software is MTD ready too!
Create legal documents from a suite of solicitor written and constantly updated templates. Use mail merge, document signing and store all the certificates and policy documents you need.
Manage the Bigger Picture:
Take advantage of a reporting suite to give you oversight on every element of your portfolio, including a customisable dashboard so you can monitor the bottom line. Set and forget reminders, so you don’t have to remember when your renewals are.
BLA members get exclusive benefits with Landlord Vision. Sign up via the BLA to receive a 4 month free trial of Landlord Vision and then a one year 15% discount on a subscription when you sign up.
We hope that in reading this guide, you’ve learned a lot more about how landlord software can benefit you and we wish you luck in all your property business!
Source: Landlord Vision
Date: 1st of February 2022
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