If you don’t currently offer a tenant portal to your renters, the COVID-19 situation currently disrupting the world brings to light several reasons why you might reconsider. For the most part, landlords and property managers who already communicate and interact with tenants online are facing less business disruption than those who do not. In addition, landlords utilizing tenant portals are actively promoting the health and safety of their tenants, their employees and themselves.
Even when we aren’t facing a global pandemic, a tenant portal is becoming critical to success for any property management business. I’ve encountered countless situations where my tenant portal has helped me be a better landlord.
Once while on vacation, I was notified that one of my tenants had submitted a maintenance request thanks to my own tenant portal. This one happened to be for a leaking sink, which always catches my attention because water damage can become expensive or dangerous very quickly. Using our tenant portal, my renter was able to upload a few photos of the issue, and I was able to determine that the leak needed immediate attention. I contacted my plumber and was able to get him out to the house quickly. All said and done, this entire process took less than an hour and I was able to get back to enjoying my vacation.
Landlords who don’t currently use tenant portals often underestimate the convenience and affordability of providing this option for tenants. Many are concerned that tenants may be resistant to paying rent online, but one statistic shows that more than 80% of Americans prefer banking online. Funds can be available as soon as the next day, which is often much faster and more convenient than the time it takes for a check to arrive and clear.
Tenant portals allow your renters to do things like:
- Pay rent online – Gone are the days of collecting rent via check in the mail. Believe it or not, I actually know a fellow landlord who had to send out a notice to all of his tenants asking them to stop sending cash rental payments because his dog had eaten hundreds of dollars worth of rent one day. Renters can set up one-time or automatic recurring rent payments via bank transfer, or pay with a credit or debit card. The convenience of paying rent online and setting up automatic payments will help you reduce late payments (and reduce late fees for your renters.)
- Track payment history – You and your renters can both easily access payment history including payment dates, payment amounts and any late fees or charges. This can help you avoid any disagreements or misunderstandings about payments and payment dates.
- Place maintenance requests – If you provide a streamlined process for your tenants to submit maintenance requests or work orders, your tenants are more likely to be proactive in bringing potential issues to your attention. This can mean big savings for your business by preventing problems from going unreported and causing preventable damage to your property.
- Communicate – If you manage multiple properties or a multi-family unit, you might not want to hand out your personal phone number to every tenant you rent to. Tenant portals provide a viable solution for tenants to reach out to you, and for you to communicate updates and notices to all of your tenants at one time.
- Access important files – File sharing is one of my favorite features of using a tenant portal. Tenant portals provide the opportunity to quickly upload and share files with your renters – things like the lease agreement, move-out instructions, important contact information, or seasonal maintenance information.
It’s no secret that technology is changing the rental industry, and choosing not to provide a tenant portal in this day and age may even hurt you in a competitive marketplace. Renters value technology and demand the ability to complete tasks online, and landlords need to comply to keep up with the competition. You need to be able to run your business from anywhere – and because rental payments are where you turn a profit on your investment, your renters need to be able to pay rent from anywhere.