Online property management needs are at an all-time high. COVID-19 has changed the landscape of many businesses across the globe and property management is absolutely one of them. Property management professionals are eager to get their hands on the latest and greatest online property management tools to help them run a more efficient property management business remotely.
After months of nationwide business shutdowns and social distancing measures, industries across the board have had to adopt new practices and procedures to keep business running while ensuring the safety of customers and employees.
Online tools have become critical to success for many, and the rental industry is no exception. While many industries have come to a devastating standstill, the rental market has continued to provide housing to the nation’s renter population. Processes like rent collection, property maintenance, tenant communication, rental vacancies and tenant turnover have all had to change to keep everyone involved safe.
Landlords and property managers have turned to virtual solutions and online property management tools to efficiently, effectively, and remotely manage their rental properties even before the global pandemic, but recent events have further highlighted the importance of these tools – and it looks like some of them might be here to stay.
In this post, we’ll cover some remote property management tips that have helped many professionals across the country enhance their ability to management properties remotely during these unprecedented times.
- Online property management rent collection
- Tenant portals
- Online maintenance coordination
- Virtual inspections
- Virtual tours
- Online application and leasing process
- Trusting your vendors
Online property management rent collection
Prior to COVID-19, many landlords chose to enable online rental payment options for their tenants to save time and money. With options to set up automatic payments or one-time payments from a computer or smartphone, online rent payment methods make it simple for tenants. Plus, the funds are available in your bank account with no additional effort on your end, streamlining your accounting process.
During a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic, online rent payments not only increased efficiency and safety for tenants and property managers, but data shows that online payment options increased the likelihood of tenants paying rent on time.
The same report shows that landlord and tenant interest in online rent payment options increased by nearly 25 percent at the start of the pandemic. For those landlords who are remote – either dealing with regional shutdowns, simply going on vacation, or managing rentals from an alternate location — online rent payment can be a fantastic tool for keeping things running smoothly.
No matter what the state of the world is, a tenant portal is becoming increasingly critical to success for any property management business. Tenant portals allow your renters to do things like pay rent online, track payment history, facilitate maintenance requests, easily communicate with you, and share important files. These are all important tasks when you are trying to run a business remotely.
Property managers often underestimate the convenience and affordability of providing this option for tenants, and choosing not to provide a tenant portal can even hurt your business in a competitive marketplace as many renters value technology and demand the ability to complete tasks online. This demand is increasing in today’s ecosystem, as more and more people are realizing the value and ease of using technology to do everyday tasks and connect with others.
Online maintenance requests and virtual maintenance coordination
Virtual property maintenance begins with offering a method for tenants to submit maintenance requests online. Online maintenance requests encourage renters to let management know about issues as soon as they arise because of how easy the process is.
Online maintenance requests also allow property managers to request photos of the issue, review and prioritize requests, track the progress of requests and even assign requests to specific vendors.
Some businesses are taking things a step further and setting up virtual systems for vendors and maintenance teams to keep property managers informed on repairs and renovations. Property managers can create a list of specific items or requests that they’d like to see through photo or video, and contractors can create and upload virtual content to make sure the work is approved. All of this can take place without the landlord ever actually needing to visit the property itself.
Property inspections are a crucial part of renting a home or apartment, specifically when tenants are moving in or out of a property. Many property managers and landlords are using mobile inspection applications and/or software to safely complete important inspections.
Property managers can either complete inspections on their own and send a virtual report to tenants, or have tenants complete inspections on their own while collecting key information outlined by the property manager. Using these tools allows you to remotely evaluate the condition of your property and prioritize maintenance and repairs.
Vacancies can make or break the profitability of your investment, so it’s important to be able to market and show your property to potential tenants during times of turnover – no matter what is going on in the world.
While business, as usual, involves meeting potential renters face to face for a physical tour of the property, COVID-19 changed the way many property managers were able to show off their available properties. Some businesses have started renting properties over the phone sight unseen, but many renters feel more comfortable viewing a property before making any sort of financial commitment. Just in case, if you’re a property manager, make sure you have a small business phone system in place to answer any incoming calls.
Virtual tours are a great compromise to resolve this issue and is a practice that will likely stick around in the rental industry long after the pandemic has passed. Business owners can either make video tours of each property available to access online or set up a time with potential tenants to walk through the property using a virtual communication tool like FaceTime or Zoom. Pro tip: Create a memorable experience for each potential renter by incorporating floor plans in addition to virtual tours. A revolutionary floor plan app is not only easy to use but will also deliver a valuable product that communicates the flow of each space to potential renters.
Online application and lease process
A key step in taking your property management business fully remote is to find a solution for the property application and lease signing process. Many property management software solutions offer an online application process that allows you to review information from potential tenants and even send out acceptance/denial letters.
Leases can be created online after determining a signing date and move-in date with accepted tenants, and can be sent out for e-signature to all parties involved. Online lease signing tools utilize legally binding electronic signatures for important documents, and give your tenants the ability to review and sign digitally.
Even if your business is not remote, many tenants prefer the ease and efficiency of online applications and paperwork, and it is important to stay flexible if you are working in a competitive marketplace.
Build a list of vendors you trust
Even with careful planning, issues are likely going to arise at some point in time that require onsite attention – which you may not be able to provide if you are managing your business remotely. It is important to create a vetted list of reliable and experienced vendors that you can trust to represent your business and protect your property.
Every property manager should have a list of approved vendors ready before they are needed, which is much easier than researching and finding a trustworthy team when faced with an emergency.
Brainstorm all the possible types of service you could potentially need at your property – from routine maintenance to a natural disaster.
Screen potential vendors on factors like accessibility, licensure and insurance, and experience. Look to your professional network for recommendations, or check with your local landlord association for a list of preferred vendors.
There are many reasons why you might be interested in remote property management, whether you simply live out of state or are facing a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. Efficient, secure solutions exist to help you conduct your property management business remotely.
Look for important features that will enhance landlord-tenant relationships, and help both you and your tenants have a positive rental experience. Have systems in place to ensure rent is paid on time, maintenance requests are managed, and vacancies are filled quickly.
Rent Remote by Rentable
Rentable offers a great package for property managers who are seeking a best-in-class solution for virtually leasing and management. With Rent Remote, you’ll be able to automatically store video tours in the cloud, easily share those videos with prospective renters and syndicate to Facebook Marketplace.
For more information on Rent Remote, please click here. And best of luck with your remote property management efforts!