landlord technology

New Study Shows the Evolving Relationship Between Landlords and Technology

Being a landlord in the modern era is not easy. Even the best landlords often feel as though there are not enough hours in a day. The balance of maximizing a return on investment while creating a positive experience for tenants can turn into a never-ending list of tasks to complete.

Fortunately, PropTech is coming full-force into landlords’ lives. Innovation in rental technology is automating time-consuming tasks, moving cash into bank accounts faster, and creating a smoother overall experience for tenants.

Until now, landlords with less than 10 units haven’t had access to online tools designed specifically for them. That is the problem we decided to solve by building Avail. We thought that an intuitive app that helps landlords with smaller portfolios advertise vacant units, request rental applications and credit reports, sign leases, and collect rent online would help many busy property owners and managers with what can be a very busy job. Today, one hundred thousand landlords use Avail because it’s the only end-to-end platform that helps landlords scale from beginner to professional with tools, support, and education.

PropTech Moving into the World of Landlords

Like every profession and industry, landlords are moving their business online. From collecting online payments to digital lease agreements, tech-savvy landlords are finding efficiency and convenience.

We recently surveyed nearly 800 landlords to explore the themes of technology use and what it means along with how the world has changed for them in the past year. The survey data was clear: landlords using online services to manage their rental properties saved significant time compared to those who didn’t.

While those who have implemented PropTech reported time-savings, the report also showed a reluctance by many landlords to fully move to digital rental management. Tasks such as maintenance requests and applications still involve slow communication and paper for many rental property owners.

Landlords Using PropTech Save (a lot of) Time

For landlords who have hesitated to implement online rental management, a great place to start is looking at how to save time. The three most time-consuming tasks as shown above are:

  • Managing maintenance
  • Finding tenants
  • Screening tenants

To find tenants, landlords have to create and distribute the listing to several top sites to get in front of as many potential tenants as possible.

At Avail we decided to build a tool where landlords can create one listing that would immediately syndicate to over a dozen other listings websites such as Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, and more.  Whether it’s finding tenants, screening tenants, or handling maintenance – the issue is these important tasks take too long, due to the typical delays in communication.

Landlords traditionally have needed a lot of paper and back-and-forth written and verbal communication to accomplish any of the above. We believe that not only should most of this communication would be better digitally but that landlords and tenants should be able to log in to the same platform to manage every step of the process in one place. By bringing their business online, landlords are suddenly freeing up several hours per week to spend time with their families, or hustle harder at their day job.

Landlords Using PropTech Improve Cash Flow

Saving time is nice, but what’s also nice is getting cash in the bank. Landlords traditionally have collected checks from their tenants by mail or by picking them up. This is time-consuming and creates a cash flow lag. When payments lag behind, landlords get stressed and have to check-in with slow-paying tenants.

Now, more landlords are collecting rent online, which provides a clear expectation of when their money will deposit. More importantly, they don’t have to worry about tenants forgetting rent payments, because they’re receiving automatic reminder emails and, when applicable, late fees.

According to our survey, independent landlords who use online services are at an advantage over their counterparts. In fact, landlords who use online services to manage their properties receive their rent on time 72.4% of the time compared to the average of 66.7%.

Even with the greatest tenants in the world, relying on checks and reminders to collect rent is a major headache. Beyond the headache, checks assure landlords will have less predictability in their income.

Moving payments online gives landlords tremendous peace of mind about their rental income. Now they are able to focus on other tasks besides following up and checking in with tenants about their rent.

Landlords Using PropTech Are More Location Independent

Typically, landlords own multiple properties in different locations. As a rental portfolio expands, landlords are spread out all around their city with properties to manage.

Online platforms provide a tremendous advantage when landlords have property in many locations. Cloud-based platforms mean as long as a landlord has a mobile device and a wifi connection, they can keep tabs on their property.

Everything from screening reports, lease agreements, maintenance requests, and rent payments should be accessible in a few clicks.

Landlords Using PropTech Create a Better Experience for Tenants (And Themselves)

Success as a landlord often comes down to communication with tenants. Clear communication is necessary for finding the right tenants, keeping them with a lease renewal, and encouraging them to take care of the space.One of the central benefits of adopting PropTech is a massive improvement in communication. Rather than leaving voicemails, trying to reach each other, and tracking down paper – online platforms allow for transparency.

When communication is clear, landlords also transfer a sense of confidence to their tenants. Tenants are looking for their rental to feel like home. Anything in their experience with a landlord that causes frustration or headache will subconsciously make them feel less at home, and therefore less likely to pay rent on time.

For example, a landlord can send an applicant their lease online to be signed from the comfort of their own home. After signing, the tenant receives an email welcome letter laying out all the details of the property and what they need to know. When tenants move in, they fill out the move-in checklist and can automatically create maintenance tickets as needed from their phone.

These steps are easy when your rental is managed online. It creates a better experience for tenants, which encourages them to pay rent on time, take care of your property, and maybe even renew when the term ends.

The Bottom Line

The goal in introducing tech efficiency is not about the software tools. Like social media or smartphones, many times new tools bring a mixed bag of distractions and negativity with all the efficiency.

Even Bill Gates, one of the greatest tech leaders of all-time, warned against tech for the sake of tech.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

Possibly the reason some landlords hesitate to move fully to digital is fear of adding more complexity to their already busy lives. The best way to approach technology implementation is to go back to the basics. The goal is to save time, generate income, and provide a great experience for tenants. With that focus in mind, landlords should strongly consider testing how online services could help them achieve all three.

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Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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