When you’re a landlord, you might always feel as if you’ve missed or forgotten to do something for one of your tenants. What day of the month is it? Should you be picking up rent checks? Did you remember to keep that receipt for new plumbing fixtures so that you can claim the expense for your taxes? Where di you put that renewed lease that you just collected from a tenant?
As a landlord, it’s easy to feel as if you’re being pulled in so many different directions, but when you automate and optimize your rental process, then many of these tasks can be done for you, leaving you with more free time to balance your full-time job and time with your family.
Here’s how to make your landlord duties easier by automating and optimizing your rental process.
Ditch the checks
If you’re still asking tenants to pay with paper checks, then you’re creating a lot of extra work for yourself. Even though paper checks can be deposited on your phone these days, you still have to go through the work of collecting them, either in person or having your tenants mail you a check each month.
Instead, choose an online financial platform that will allow tenants to pay rent online every month. Some landlords use PayPal, Zelle or Venmo, though these platforms can be hacked and don’t always provide an easy way for you to contact your tenant should the rent be late.
At Atlas Lane, we have our own user friendly portal that tenants can access wherever they are. They can set up automated monthly payments to go out on the same day every month, eliminating your need to collect paper checks.
Digitize your bookkeeping
There’s nothing worse than spending weeks in the winter scrambling to find all of the necessary tax documents so you can file and get that refund you certainly need. Although a good CPA should be able to help you file, you will need to be certain that your income and expense numbers are correct so you can get the maximum refund.
Many landlords choose online platforms like Mint or Quickbooks to handle their finances. Both platforms have the pluses and minuses, so do your own research and find a platform that meets your needs.
Go paperless — for good
You have a tenant that wants to sign a lease with your property, but when you two try to agree on a time to meet and sign all the documents, you find that your schedules just do not match up. Instead of insisting on a time and place to meet, ditch paper leases altogether and opt for digital signing and documents.
With options like DocuSign, you can send tenants their new or updated leases right to their inboxes. They can read them over, sign them and send them right back — all in one day.
If you do decide to go paperless, then you will need to choose a cloud platform like MicrosoftOne or Google Drive to keep track of documents that have been signed and other documents that have been sent to tenants. You can also keep copies of emails sent to tenants just in case you ever need to show a paper trail.
Set up a system for maintenance requests
There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you’re being bombarded with maintenance requests from your tenants. Though you try to keep every request straight and get them taken care of right away, it can be difficult when more than one property needs help.
Instead of giving tenants a phone number to call or text, set up a preferred system for tenants that makes it easier to keep track of what work needs to be done where and eliminates forgotten or missed phone calls or texts.
If you’re not using an online system like Rent Cafe or a property management company, then try email. Set up a specific email address for all maintenance requests and have tenants send their needs to that account with their addresses in the subject line. If you have a super who performs most repairs, give him or her access to the email account so he or she can check it several times a day.
When a request comes in, the super should respond within 24 hours and explain when he or she will stop by and do the work. After the job is done, the super should respond to the email once more going over what was done and any other additional costs. This creates a paper trail, so if a bigger problem ever arises, you can go back through your emails and find out what exactly what done or not done to your property.
Set alerts for yourself
When a new tenant moves into your property, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is what to do when they inevitably move out, whether that’s next year or five years from now. When the time comes for the tenant to move out, will you remember to:
- Send a lease renewal to them in time before they decide to leave?
- Schedule a cleaning service to scrub the property before a new tenant arrives?
- Perform a move-out inspection so you know what needs to be repaired?
0 Re-list your property to find a new tenant?
That’s a lot to remember, so don’t rely on your future self to remember when these actions need to be performed. Sending a lease renewal 10 weeks before the current lease ends can help you prepare for all the move-out work that will need to be done — or it could save you the time if the tenant agrees to renew.
When a new tenant moves in, go into the calendar on your phone and set a few alerts, including:
- One at the 10-week mark before the tenant’s lease ends so you remember to follow up about renewing the lease.
- One at the 8-week mark if you know you need to relist your property and find a new tenant.
- Two at the 4-week mark so you remember to block off the day to conduct a move-out inspection and schedule a cleaning service to get the property ready for the next tenant.
Having these alerts appear on your phone and in your inbox will help you stay on top of who’s coming and going. If you do the work when you receive your alerts, then you’ll be less likely to scramble to find a cleaning service or list your property.
Hire a property management company
A property management company handles the day-to-day tasks of running a property, which includes finding tenants, moving them in, handling maintenance and repair requests and collecting rent, among other tasks. If you find yourself bogged down by endless maintenance requests and phone calls about how to work the thermostat on your property, then it might be time to let a professional handle the work.
A good property management company like Atlas Lane will focus on:
- Marketing your property and finding and screening good tenants;
- Moving tenants in and showing them how to the property works;
- Answering maintenance and repair questions and requests at all hours of the day;
- Fixing any repairs needed in a timely manner to avoid further damage to the property;
- Collecting rent and renewing leases;
- Monitoring the property to ensure it is up to the current building codes in Washington, DC, and;
- Keeping expert records needed for tax purposes.
Sounds like a lot of work? It is. That’s why landlords trust Atlas Lane to take care of the day-to-day work because they know it will get done and done well.
Think you’re ready to optimize your rental process? Contact Atlas Lane today and see how we can make it easier for you.