If you are one of the many landlords who manage their own rental properties, you know that property management involves a significant investment of time and money. In this article, we demonstrate how using a property management app can help you save both.
Despite representing the largest segment of rental owners in the U.S., the market for technological tools catering to DIY landlords has significantly lagged the broader real estate industry.
The reason is simple – mom & pop landlords require tools that are affordable and easy to use, which makes them less lucrative to develop compared to expensive software catering to large property managers.
As fellow DIY landlords, we were frustrated with being overlooked, so we created Zuby – a free property management app for individual landlords.
So how can Zuby help you save time and money? Let’s take a look.
Collect Rent Online With A Free App
While the main benefit of collecting rent online is the sheer convenience it offers you and your renters, there are many other reasons for landlords to choose to collect rent online.
A well-designed property management app with free online rent collection will professionalize your rentals by:
- Automatically creating and sending monthly rent invoices with amounts and due dates, taking the guesswork out of rent payment
- Notifying your renters when rent is due, reducing or eliminating late rent payments
- Automatically applying late fees if your renters are still late paying the rent
- Blocking partial rent payment
- Creating payment receipts to help you get organized and better understand your rentals’ performance
- Allowing you to assign a different bank account to each property
- Providing the ability to charge for move-in related items such as security deposits and pet fees
While there are a few popular mobile-payment solutions out there, there are several reasons why you should use a dedicated property management app to collect rent instead.
Comprehensive Tenant Screening
Experienced landlords know to stay far away from bad renters, as one bad tenant can cause a whole host of issues including not paying rent, damaging property, and refusing to evict.
That is why we recommend that at a minimum, all landlords run a thorough background check and obtain a recent credit report for every potential tenant.
Since we know first hand how important this step is, we integrated an affordable screening tool into our property management app. Our reports are comprehensive and are filled out and paid for by your applicants, saving you time and money.
While our tenant screening reports are thorough, we also recommend that you not stop there.
Here are some additional steps to take when qualifying applicants:
- Ask for recent pay stubs – this will help verify the income information provided in the application, and will give you a firsthand look at the applicant’s ability to cover the rent payments. As a general rule of thumb, you want applicants that earn at least three times the rent amount.
- Contact previous landlords – get a recent account of your applicant’s rental history. Ask previous landlords questions that will help you understand if you should expect to have any issues with your applicants.
- Reach out to current employer – verify their place of employment and potentially get more insights into your applicant’s status and reputation as an employee.
- Interview your applicants – get a feel for your applicant and their near term plans relating to your property. Use this chance to ask any outstanding questions you may have.
Maintaining a diligent screening process will go a long way in ensuring good tenants that pay on time and treat your property with respect.
Landlord Benefits of Requiring Renters Insurance
Renters insurance is designed to mostly benefit your tenants and can cover their costs relating to damaged property, injuries, temporary living expenses, theft, and accidents.
Not only is renters insurance affordable (national premium average of $125-$150 per year), but it also provides added protection for landlords that not many people are aware of.
Here are some of the benefits of renters insurance that you can enjoy as a landlord:
- Reduces your responsibility – renters insurance will cover your tenants’ temporary housing expenses in case of an emergency, meaning you won’t have to help them find a solution or cover the cost. Instead, you can focus on fixing your property.
- Deductible coverage – you might have to make a claim on your insurance if a tenant damages your property, causing you to have to pay a deductible. The majority of renters insurance policies cover homeowner’s insurance deductibles, saving you a potential out of pocket expense.
- Minimizes your legal exposure – if someone is injured at your property, there is a chance you will be sued. Since renters insurance covers medical expenses associated with injuries in the rental, you could potentially avoid a lawsuit or having to make an insurance claim.
- Additional screening – renters insurance is affordable, as we’ve discussed. Any renter refusing to purchase it due to the added cost should make you question their ability to cover the rent and their quality as a tenant.
- Greater overall peace of mind – the combination of these benefits will reduce time, money, and stress for any landlord the requires renters insurance.
Because of the clear advantages to both renters and landlords, we made it easy for landlords to require tenants to purchase renters insurance and for renters to buy affordable coverage right on our app.
We partnered with Sure, a leader in insurance technology and development. Sure, like us, focuses on ease of use and affordability while delivering a top-notch product.
Creating Your Own Rental Lease Agreements
A solid rental lease agreement is the foundation for the landlord-tenant relationship, and one should always be in place when you lease out a property.
Not only will it provide you with legal coverage and the ability to evict a bad tenant, but the lease agreement will clearly state the obligations and rights of you and your renters.
We’ve partnered with LawDepot, an expert in real estate law, to put the power of lease creation in the hands of our landlords.
Using Zuby’s digital document creation tool, landlords create state-specific, legal proof leases, and other legal documents by simply answering questions pertaining to their property.
If you decide to create your own rental lease agreements, it’s good to keep in mind the typical information and special provisions that could go into one.
Typical Rental Lease Agreement Details
You should always make sure to check the specific requirements of your state before finalizing your lease, but you can typically expect to include the following standard information:
- Contact info for you and your tenants
- Property address, size, and other general details
- Lease type, such as residential or commercial
- Property type, such as a house, duplex, apartment, condo, or basement
- Term of the lease with beginning and end dates
- Rent payment amount and due dates
- Security deposits
- Tenant rights
- Landlord obligations
- Terms of renewal
- Contact information for leasing agents
- Lease termination clause
- Dispute resolution methods and other details
Special Provisions to Potentially Insert into Your Rental Lease Agreement
You should tailor your rental lease agreement for your or your renters’ specific needs by including special provisions that you won’t typically find in a standard agreement.
Here are examples of additional terms to include:
- Late fee amounts and grace periods
- Details on included furniture
- Adding roommates
- Pet restrictions, fees, or deposits
- Operating a business from the property
- Assigning a property manager
- Subleasing terms
- Short term rental terms
- Co-signer (guarantor) information
- Rent-to-own provision
- Auto-renewal and other special renewal terms
If you have qualified and covered renters that pay on-time under a signed lease, you are well on your way towards a successful rental operation.
Properly Maintaining Your Properties
Keeping your properties well maintained is a must-do if you want happy tenants and minimal expenses. Doing so as an individual landlord can be challenging at times, as unforeseen issues come up that require the right professional help.
Since we’ve had the experience of having to find a new plumber or A/C repair company, we know how time-consuming this process can be. That is why we created a network of local service professionals that landlords using our property management app can access.
Whether you decide to hire help or maintain your rentals yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Perform Routine Inspections & Maintenance
Conducting move-in, move-out, and regularly scheduled inspections will allow you to fix any existing issues and clue you in on potential ones.
When inspecting a property, make sure to cover the following areas:
- Check the paint for any cracking or fading and re-paint accordingly
- Make sure HVAC systems are working properly
- Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning and have adequate battery life
- Drain and clean water heaters once or twice per year
- Check outside windows and seal any cracks
- Ensure exterior paint isn’t cracked or faded
- Inspect the condition of the roof, check for holes or missing shingles
- Clean the gutters and make sure they are securely in place
- Do a walk around to ensure the foundation isn’t damaged and slopes away from the property to prevent water build up
- Clear the landscape around the property, trim any branches or hazardous vegetation
- Clean out any crawl spaces, prevent water build up and habitation of pests
- Check outdoor electrical circuit interrupters for damage, test and trip regularly
Conduct Routine Maintenance
As important as conducting routine inspections, maintaining your property regularly will keep known potential issues at bay and should be done on a fixed schedule.
Here are items to cover during regular maintenance:
- Replace A/C filters
- Check for leaks in faucets, bathrooms, and roof
- Re-chalk shower tubs and tiles
- Pest control
- Tighten loose faucets and door knobs
- Check locks
- Check fire extinguishers
- Clear gutters
Landlords Love Zuby – The Free Property Management App
Zuby offers many benefits for landlords.
From free online rent collection to renter screening tools, DIY lease agreements, and local service providers, Zuby empowers everyday landlords with a variety of professional property management tools in one easy to use property management app.
Landlords are not the only ones that love Zuby, however, as we did not forget about your tenants. Renters who use Zuby can pay rent for free, split rent with roommates, purchase affordable renters insurance, and access the same network of local service providers.
So we encourage you to check out our app and see for yourself how using a property management app can make your life easier, saving you both time and money.