Friday, 6 October 2017

6 Things to Plan for When Renting Your First Apartment

Renting your first apartment? This is an exciting time! Moving away from home to an apartment includes many fun experiences, like moving in with roommates, decorating, and finding a location you love. This time can also be overwhelming. There are many things to think about and prepare for, even if it isn’t your first time renting an apartment.  These range fromup-front expenses and buying essentials to your landlord being able to collect rent online.  A few budget-planning steps can make this process less stressful, and more fun.

 Budget Prep 101:
  1. What are the upfront expenses?
Anytime you can plan ahead with upcoming expenses, it can reduce stress. So, what can you expect? Typically, there are fees associated with applying for an apartment, such as an application fee covering the landlord’s cost to process your application. Once you’re approved to rent, there are other expenses to plan for. Nearly all landlords ask for a security deposit prior to move in. The deposit covers any damages incurred during your lease. Security deposits are often a full month’s rent. Ask your future landlord about all required fees and expenses upfront.

  1. Rent and that’s it, right?
Many first time renters plan ahead for their monthly rent payment, but underestimate the cost of other monthly expenses. Like what? Well, gas and electric bills for one. Ask your landlord for an estimate of the cost of monthly bills. Though utility bills are use-dependent, you may get a feel for a baseline amount.

Don’t forget renter’s insurance! Many landlords require renter’s insurance which protects the tenant in the case of loss, theft, etc. Though the usual cost is low, why not factor it in if you are estimating additional monthly costs? Find out the details and decide what coverage you might need.

  1. Essentials!
Moving into a new place is exciting! As you think about all the ways you can decorate, or improve you space, plan for the essentials first in your budget. What do you need? Unless mom and dad are providing your basics, you’ll need: a bed, dishes, sitting furniture, linens and towels, etc. Take a trip to your nearest home store to get an estimate of what you can afford. While eating off plastic crates is fun for a night or two, eventually, you’ll want the comfort of a table!

  1. Fun Stuff.
What about the non-essentials – things that make your apartment into a home? Wall d├ęcor, plants, tablecloths, decorative pillows, etc. See what makes sense with your budget and plan ahead for special items to make your home feel more like you.

Fun stuff from home might make your apartment more livable, but think before you move everything from home into your new apartment. Moving is an opportunity to purge items you no longer need, or even sell, to add money back into budget.

  1. Your furry friends.
Pets are the best. But, most landlords require a pet fee or deposit. Pet fees range from a monthly fee, in the neighborhood of $15-25/month. Alternatively, some landlords require a pet deposit upfront, to cover any damages related to pets.

Wait, more expenses? Maybe. If you have a friend with a truck you can borrow to move your personal items, you may be able to get away with just the expense of buying your friend a pizza – instead of incurring the expense of a moving truck rental. If you don’t have that friend with a truck, renting a moving truck or trailer, is something to add into your moving budget.

 Aaaah. You’re all moved in! Now that you have all the basics, and your apartment is homey – the expenses will stabilize, right? We have a few additional tips to make your rental experience better, by saving time and expense.

One way is working with your landlord to Pay Rent Online. Landlord software, like Schedule My Rent, enables you to quickly and easily pay your rent, with no trips to the bank, no paper checks, and no uncertainty that your rent payment made it to your landlord.

Schedule My Rent will automatically pay your rent every month, on the date of your choice. Once the payment is made, you will receive a receipt for payment. Easy! Check with your landlord about using Schedule My Rent to save you time and expense:

Automating the payment of your bills for phone and utilities will also save you time and effort. Keep an eye on your utility usage the first few months, as you learn about the expenses for gas and electric use. Once you have a feel for the typical expense, you can accurately budget.

 Well, good luck in your new apartment! With these simple expense planning steps, you won’t be surprised or overwhelmed. Simple tools like Schedule My Rent make your life easier, once you are settled into your home as well. Ask about using Schedule My Rent with your landlord today.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Becoming a More Profitable Rental Property Owner

The typical real estate owner is looking to turn a profit. Is it easy to do so? Sometimes yes, sometimes more work is involved.  While it seems that profitability is a ‘given’ when you purchase a rental property, that’s not always the case. We’ve discovered a few fundamental (and easy!) ways to increase your profitability. 

Many of these simple changes, or improvements in how you manage your property, are something you do in your personal home. Why not do the same with your rental properties? It may seem that the investment in technology or products are too expensive to make money. Over the long haul, you’ll see a return on your investment. Consider the following tools of the trade to make more money on your real estate investments.

 We’ve all heard that time is money…These steps will save you both.  

 1 - Reduce turnover… Keep your best tenants. How? Provide a personal touch, great service and time saving tools. How do you personalize a rental experience, to create a favorable tenant experience? Simple touches like an email to your tenant on their birthday or reaching out to ask about how things are at the property,give the tenant a personal experience. Other options include proactive property or landscape improvements. Sprucing up the property with a new tree, bush or plant improves the overall property. Tenants appreciate a personal touch in service, and a legitimate interest in improving their ‘home’.
    2- Little things… like a programmable thermostat or ceiling fans. Why do little things  improve your profitability? A set of tenants will seek out landlords who are energy conscious, or a bit more technologically focused. They also seek landlords who help them save money across the board. A programmable thermostat helps monitor usage, enabling tenants to better manage utility bills. Tenants save money by having more control over their energy use. This ‘little thing’ attracts tenants. Ceiling fans, too! How great is it to use a fan during transition months, when the AC is too cool, however, a ceiling fan breeze is just right. Saving energy here as well.
 By providing the little things to improve your tenant’s living environment, the tenant will stay longer,   reducing turnover, and saving you money.

 3- Collect Rent Electronically

Remembering ‘Time is Money’… save time and make money with Online Rent Payments. Tenants want to pay online. Many tenants pay electronically for other services such as electric and gas payments – why not rent? Asking tenants to write a paper check, or to pay in cash, is an inconvenience.

Schedule My Rent provides a simple, easy and time efficient way to take rent electronically. It saves both tenant and landlord time and effort, and reduces the issues with mailing a paper check. Both tenant and landlord know exactly when a payment is received – no lost checks, late checks or uncertain payment timing.

Schedule My Rent’s landlord software has an ideal tenant portal, making sign-up a synch. Roommates are able to split payments, saving each tenant time. Schedule My Rent allows users to establish automatic withdrawals on the same day of the month for rent payments.

Electronic payments reduce costs for business and real estate owners. It’s a simple process, see how electronic payments work.

 4 -  Maintenance mastery… Some of our landlords report paying hundreds, or thousands of dollars in extra service calls due to a reactive maintenance approach. What’s that? Well, if a landlord avoids spending money by waiting until it’s time to call a repairman, that’s reactive maintenance. Get ahead of issues and repairs by proactively maintaining air conditioners, replacing filters, cleaning vent systems, and roof maintenance.

Tenants are not always savvy at diagnosing minor fixes for potentially expensive repairs. By spending a few extra minutes to schedule maintenance, your appliances and property life will increase, as will your property ROI.

  5 - Save the trees…
Paper-based management systems for your business add complexity and increase the time you spend managing your business. Think about the elements of a paper-based approach – there’s the receipt of paper invoices, receipts and check payments. Escape filing, scanning, and shredding by using electronic tools, such as Schedule My Rent. We automate the rent collection and communication process – saving you time (and money!).

By replacing check payments, we save you time – no more driving to the mailbox, bank, or to your property to collect rent. You’ll love the ease of having money automatically sent to your bank account. We save you time by offering electronic communications surrounding rent payment due dates, late fees, reminders, and receipt of rent payment.

 As a property investor and owner, the objective is to make a profit, and reduce the amount of time doing so. As we’ve described above, a few simple improvements can save you time and money, increasing your profitability.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Landlord Software: Michelle’s Story

When Michelle bought her first rental property 2 years ago, she was aware of some of the challenges property owners face. She learned some of the ins and outs quickly, like who to call for the best repairs at the best prices. She improved her property and eventually bought another. But one landlord task was particularly stressful for her – collecting rent.

“Collecting rent became a pain,” Michelle commented. She felt as though she was hassling tenants for rent payments. She wanted an easier way.

Often, Michelle’s tenants would tell her they had sent a check via mail, but Michelle didn’t receive the payment. It seemed like it was the tenant’s word against hers, with neither party winning. “Is the tenant telling the truth about sending in a payment, did the post office lose the envelope, or are they stalling for time?” Michelle wondered. It’s challenging to determine if a check is truly lost, or if the post office delivery really does take longer than she thought.

In some cases, Michelle felt like she would not receive a rent payment unless she went to her tenant’s apartment to meet them and collect payment. This wasted Michelle’s time, with her already full schedule. Isn’t there a better way?

While researching her options, Michelle discovered Schedule My Rent. She was excited to find the online landlord software easy to use, and at a price she was happy with. Schedule My Rent’s tenant portal allowed her tenants to quickly see what is due and easily pay rent online. She realized this is what she was looking for: online rent payments, made easy.

Michelle now recommends Schedule My Rent’s landlord software to her friends who own property. She loves how easy it is to collect rent electronically, and so do her tenants - a win-win. It’s your turn to discover what Michelle has discovered, the perks of collecting rent online. 

As we hear feedback from our landlords, they share what they love about electronic rent payment. The things that float to the top of their list include those shown below.
Top 10 reasons to collect rent online
1.        It’s a time saver. Why drive to the post office to collect checks, then stop at the bank to deposit them? Or even less appealing – drive to your tenant and collect the rent directly.Both options take too much of your valuable time. Online rent collection is so simple, and helps devote more time to growing your property investments.

2.        Stress no more. Just like Michelle above, you can forget about the stress involved in collecting rent. Rent payments show up in your bank account on time, with no work on your end. No more wondering if checks will arrive and following up on late payments. It’s easy and stress-free.

3.        Happy tenants = Happy Landlords. Our tenants love the ease in signing up for electronic payments, and knowing their rent arrives each month with no effort. They enjoy renting from a landlord who makes things easy. We’ve discovered that most landlords are expected to offer electronic payments as a service to their tenants. Schedule My Rent provides a simple way to offer this service.

4.        Security. With electronic payments, your personal information isn’t changing hands as it is with paper checks. Your tenant’s address, name, and account number are confidential, and our bank-level encryption keeps your personal data safe. 

5.        Quick payments. With electronic payments, money moves quickly, from the tenant’s account to the landlord’s account – this makes it easy for both parties to know the status of their accounts. No delay waiting for someone to cash your check, or waiting to receive payment. With Schedule My Rent, we always move money fast and don’t charge for a quicker processing time, like some of our competitors. 

6.        Not just for rent. With Schedule My Rent, we make it easy for landlords to collect payments beyond rent, such as late fees, one time utility payments, etc. 

7.        Who’s paid? Visibility and a record of who’s paid is critical to managing your business. Schedule My Rent has the best property dashboard in the business. It’s easy to see payment detail across all your properties, whether it’s 1 or 100. You have complete visibility at the click of a button.

8.       Record keeping.  Though not exciting, it’s nice to have an electronic record of who has paid, the date they paid, and the amount. No manual entry into a spreadsheet. It’s all online with Schedule My Rent.

9.        Issue resolution. With electronic payments, both tenant and landlord have the same transaction history – there’s no dispute over payment details. We make sure to let you know if a payment fails, and ensure the tenant can try again.

10.  Payment flexibility. With Schedule My Rent, we’re able to split payments between roommates. 

Take advantage of all the benefits of paying online. It’s so easy, you’ll wonder why you didn’t consider it before. Try today.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

5 Ways to Reduce Late Fees

Who likes late fees? No one!Tenants don’t want to pay late fees.  Even landlords don’t like late fees, as this means they didn’t receive their rent payment on time.

Late fees can be substantial. Depending on the state of residence and your lease, tenants may be on the hook for up to 10% of the rent amount. Late fees can be reduced or avoided with simple property management software featuring automated payments, tenant communications, and reminders.

5 Ways to Reduce Late Fees 

1.     Pay rent electronically.  If you are still paying rent by sending your landlord a paper check, the likelihood that your payment will arrive late increases significantly. The postal service may deliver it late, lose it, or deliver it to the wrong address. Theft is also possible as more individuals are involved in the delivery process.  Landlords don’t care why it is late…they just know it is late. By paying your rent electronically, you will always know when your landlord receives the rent, and you will have a confirmation that your rent was paid on time.

2.     Setup AutoPay.  When you setup AutoPay, your rent is paid on the due date every month so payments are never late.  If you use rent collection software like ScheduleMyRent, you receive a courtesy reminder every month that a rent payment will come out of your bank account automatically.  If you need to, you can still change the date or amount of your payment anywhere or anytime.  You also receive an electronic receipt when your rent is paid.  

3.     Receive reminders.If you don’t want to use AutoPay, wouldn’t it be nice to receive a reminder that your rent is due so you don’t forget? If your landlord is using landlord software like ScheduleMyRent, tenants receive reminders before rent is due. Tenants will receive several reminders until a payment is authorized.Once a payment is made, you will receive an electronic receipt of payment.

4.     Talk with your landlord.  This can be as simple as a quick text or email.  Let your landlord know if your rent will be late, indicate why, and when you will be making a payment.  Communication is important. If a landlord understands the tenant’s situation, they may be less likely to charge a late fee or start a court action.  The worst thing a tenant can do is to be silent.  Also, if you can pay part of the rent immediately and the landlord knows when the remainder is coming, your landlord may be more willing to waive the late fee.

5.     Don’t make it a habit.Avoid forming a pattern of paying late every month.  If you pay late every month, it becomes less likely that your landlord will work with you and waive your late fee.

A Landlord’s View of Late Fees

Almost every landlord has a late fee in their lease, but different landlords have different views on how late fees should work.  On one side, some landlords expect rent to always be paid on the date it is due, and a late fee will apply for all late rent payments. These landlords believe that the best policy is to strictly enforce lease terms, to ensure tenants pay on time and do not get in the habit of always paying late.  On the other side, some landlords are flexible, and don’t charge late fees, if the tenant is having problems but is communicating.  Their main goal is to receive rent payments, and to keep good relationship with tenants.

Which method is right?  As in most situations, that typical answer may be somewhere in the middle.  Most landlords have a late fee, but they also have a grace period for the late fee.  For example, a landlord with a three-day grace period may have rent due on the first day of the month, but won’t charge a late fee if rent is received within three days of the due date.  This gives the tenant some flexibility, and ensures the rent is collected timely.  When rent is received beyond the grace period, many landlords charge a late fee.

Landlords like using rental property software so they don’t have to track when rent is late and remember to add a late fee- this is managed by the software.  Landlords also use automated software so they don’t hurt the relationship with the tenant by asking for a late fee directly.  Some automated software programs, like ScheduleMyRent, automatically add late fees, but also allow the landlord to easily waive or refund the late fee. 

Avoid late fees and experience the joy of paying rent online, try Schedule My Rent.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

ScheduleMyRent Landlord Software Tenant Portal (Resident Portal)

ScheduleMyRent’s landlord software has an amazing tenant portal that makes it easy for tenants to see what is due, gives multiple options to pay, and has industry-leading security designed in.

Tenants are automatically sent reminders when something needs to be paid, confirmations when payments are authorized, and receipts when payments are made.

Tenant’s might have the following questions:

How much is rent?
Tenant’s see a list of items that are due with a date and description for each item.  In the above example, $750.00 in rent for February is dueon 2/1/2018.  If there are other items, such as utility bills, they would also be listed.

Can I see payments from roommates?
Yes, multiple tenants can split rent anyway they want.  Each tenant can adjust their portion of the rent that they are going to pay.  Tenants can automatically pay their portion or can manually make adjustment to pay more or pay less for a specific month.  In this case, the tenant’s roommate, Sue Smith, has already authorized a $375.00 payment on 2/1/2018.

Can roommates see my bank account information?
No.  Neither roommates nor landlords can see your bank account information.  Your bank account information is kept encrypted and never shared with anyone.  In addition, as soon as you enter your bank account information, your account number is immediately “masked”.  (E.g. XXXXX1234) This protects your account number if someone obtains your login information or if someone is “watching over your shoulder” when you are authorizing a rent payment.Rental property software should always keep your information safe and secure.

How much rent do I owe?
You can see that the total amount due on the lease is currently $375.00.  Either you or a roommate need to authorize payments that add up to this amount.

How do I pay?
If you want to pay this rent, simply select the “Total Amount Due on Lease” option and then click Authorize Payment.  The tenant will automatically receive an email indicating that the payment has been authorized.  On 2/1/2018, $375.00 will automatically be withdrawn from the tenant’s bank account and the tenant will automatically be emailed a receipt for the payment.

What if I want to pay two days later because that is when I get my check from work?  …Or I can only pay a smaller rent amount now?
Instead of selecting the total amount due on lease, select the “Other” option instead.  Tenants can choose any date and any amount that they want to pay.  Note:  If tenants don’t pay the full amount by the due date, they may have late fees or be subject to other penalties, depending upon the landlord.  Landlords have the option to add a “Grace Period” before late fees are automatically added.

What if I want the payment to be made automatically every month?
That’s easy. Tenants can select the AutoPay tab on the tenant portal and enter the amount they want to pay every month.  Up to this amount will be automatically withdrawn from the tenant’s bank account on the due date.  Landlord software makes it easy to pay rent.

What if I change my mind and want to change a payment?
No problem.  Tenants can remove or add additional scheduled payments any time before payments are sent to the bank.  If a tenant wants to delete a payment, they can simply click on the trashcan icon next to the scheduled payment.  Each time a tenant authorizes a manual payment, they receive an email confirmation which includes thedeadline for making changes.

Can I see the lease terms?
Yes, simply click the Lease Details tab on the tenant portal.  You can see the:
·        Lease Start Date
·        Lease End Date
·        Monthly Rent
·        Day of month that rent is due
·        First payment date and amount
·        Late fee amount
·        Return Fee amount

Can I see the history of all payments?
Yes, simply click on the History Tab on the resident portal.  You can see the date, description, and amount of all charges and all payments, including roommates.

Schedule My Rent enables landlords to easily collect rent online by automating rent payments.

Schedule My Rent enables tenants to easily pay rent anytime or anywhere.  Tenants always stay in control and can always see what is due and what rent has been paid.

Try ScheduleMyRent’s Landlord Software today.  There is a 45-day free trial to experience the best Tenant Portal (Resident Portal) in the industry.

6 Things to Plan for When Renting Your First Apartment

Renting your first apartment? This is an exciting time! Moving away from home to an apartment includes many fun experiences, like moving i...