5 Tools Beginner Landlords Don’t Know About, But Should

As a new landlord, learning to manage one or more properties can quickly get overwhelming.  Tenant-landlord laws, property management fees, managing cash flow; these were all concepts you didn’t have to deal with before you bought the property.  All of a sudden, they’re thrust upon you.

In this article, we’ll go over a few tips, tricks and tools you should integrate in your real estate investment operation. Each can improve your business and increase your bottom line.

Online Listings Expand Your Tenant Choices

A beginner landlord often has a tough time finding tenants.

Even if you own a beautiful property in a trendy part of town, you may get only a handful of applications if you’re not advertising it properly.

That’s why we recommend using an online rental listing service to promote your property.  Don’t limit yourself to print or a sign in the window.

Just how much of an impact can listing your property can have?  Consider this. According to 2017 consumer housing trends, 83% of renters used online listings to find a rental.  While there’s still value in print, the rental world is moving online.

The proliferation of online listing services is reflecting this trend.  Consider that 10 years ago, the go-to resources were mostly Craigslist and Kijiji.  Now type “Canada apartment rental” in Google and you’ll find at least one specialty site for each major Canadian city.

Of course, these listing services aren’t free.  However, on a site like Kijiji, you’re sharing the same advertising platform as someone pawning off their cat carrier.  It’s not optimized to show lists of amenities, nor can a user filter via handy tools like a map or number of bedrooms.

Then consider that better sites like Rentals.ca offer the option of 3D tours.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, 3D technology isn’t a fad.  Adoption of virtual and augmented reality is growing year-on-year.  The early-adopters have paved the way and the technology is becoming mainstream.

Contact Legal And Evictions Services  Before Something Happens

Many laws and guidelines dictate how landlords and tenants interact. These often vary by province and territory.  As a result, finding a good source of legal help can be difficult.

If you’re just starting out and don’t know where to look, the CMHC offers a portal for landlords on legal issues landlords should consider.  Landlordtenant.org also offers rental law information broken down by province as well as links to relevant government sites.

However, knowing the main rules and regulations isn’t necessarily enough.  You need to have a specialized lawyer you can contact in case something goes wrong.

It’s best to have consulted with a lawyer before any legal issues materialize.  You don’t need to retain them, however, it’s good that you at least sit down with a lawyer once to discuss your situation.  If ever a legal situation arises, you’ll have a contact point who knows your background. This speeds up proceedings.

If you don’t have a lawyer already, you can find one easily through the Canadian Bar Association or sites like CanadianLawList.com and FindLaw.ca.

You should also research a competent eviction service.  Emotions can run high when a tenant needs to be removed from the property and it’s a process almost every landlord shouldn’t DIY.

Eviction services use professionals and are trained to deal with such situations. They generally have in-house lawyers that can guide the landlords in the right legal direction during the entire process.

Online Rent Payment Systems To Streamline Finances

The day rent is due can be a time guzzler for a landlord.  You have to take time out of your day to cash one of the prepaid cheques, be it online or in person at the bank.  Worse case, if the renter’s cheques bounce, you then have to take more time track the tenant down and get your money.

Luckily, the Information Age has spawned yet another platform to simplify your life: automatic online rent payment portals.

For example, with Dwello you can automatically withdrawn from the tenant’s account on a set date every month.  The money is then transferred to your bank directly within a few days. Other companies like RentMoola even allow your tenants to pay via credit card.

These service are great for a few reasons:

  • They allow you to scale up your operation the more properties you add to your portfolio without you being involved.
  • They give renters options for payments.  Millenials and upcoming generations are shying away from cheques.
  • They allow tenants to build their credit score.

Accounting Software Keeps CRA Away

Who has time to create spreadsheets, file receipts and, generate a bunch of reports?  The answer shouldn’t be you. You should be focusing on maintaining and acquiring properties.

Accounting woes get worse when tax season rolls around.  If you don’t have a system in place, you might lose out on tax returns if expenses haven’t been logged correctly.  Think of how much money you spend at Home Depot over a year for your properties. A few lost receipts here and there can eat up your tax return.

Instead of DIYing your financing, hire professionals.  A good accountant will take that shoebox of expenses and turn it into a report that’ll melt Canada Revenue Agency’s heart.  Kidding, CRA has no heart.

If you’re not at that stage where hiring an accountant makes financial sense, consider paying for software.  Services like Intuit’s Quickbooks lumps a bunch of services together at an affordable price.  You can even scan receipts with your smartphone and file them in real time!

A good accounting software will allow you to see how much money you make from your rental properties every month. Even better, it’ll showcase cash flow and, debit and credit transactions. So for example, if you’re doing a lot of repairs on a property, your accounting software will help ensure you don’t spend more cash than you intend for a specific period.

Home Staging Services Gets You Better Tenants

Staging a home is a tool often used by realtors trying to sell an empty property.  Research has shown that a staged home sells for much more than an empty one.

People have a hard time imagining their furniture and belongings in an empty space.  By having furniture in place, viewers use the existing furniture as building blocks when picturing their life in that area.

This tool can be just as helpful for landlords.

If you are sitting on an empty unit, staging it will have the following effects:

  • Your property will be set apart from the competitor’s: other units will sit empty while yours will showcase beautifully.
  • You’ll be able to ask more for rent: your property will look better allowing you to ask for more.
  • You’ll have better pictures for online listings: furnished rooms provide a better sense of scale than empty ones.
  • You’ll spend less time on viewings: seeing furniture already in place will weed out any tenant who can’t rent the property due to specific pieces he or she owns.

In major Canadian cities, rental staging costs less than a month’s rent.  Considering that a staged property attracts tenants faster than an empty one, hiring such a service is an investment that pays for itself.

Invest in These Tools

As you can see, there are many cheap real estate tools that you can integrate into your landlord operation. Don’t hesitate to try a few of these to expand your business and become a more efficient landlord.

 

Glenn Carter

Glenn is a real estate writer and investor. Getting his start in single-family home and condo investing, Glenn has since moved on to multi-family investing in the Ottawa area. As a side hustle to his real estate investing, Glenn loves writing about his experience as a landlord overseeing his rental properties and has been featured on VentureBeat, BiggerPockets, Get Paid For Your Pad, and Breakthrough Real Estate Podcast.