The landlord and tenant dynamic has come to the cloud.
Toronto company PropertyVista Software Inc. haslaunched a public betaversion of its cloud-based property management service for landlords.
About 15 landlords are already giving the SaaS-based PropertyVistaservice a try. The system takes many property management functions andprocesses into the cloud.
The service is designed for managers and/or owners of one to 500residential rental units, from mom-and-pop landlords to real estateinvestment trusts and larger property management firms. Landlords whosign up for the service get their own personal Web site that can becustomized for their needs. Landlords can quickly update propertyvacancies or listings as required. And the service is available in fivelanguages: English, French, Spanish, traditional Mandarin Chinese andsimplified Mandarin.
“It’s a CRM (customer relationship management)focus that’s reallyextremely easy to use. For smaller users that aren’t as tech savvy, ourentire platform is point-and-click,” said CEO Leonard Drimmer, formerCEO of TransGlobe Property Management, now known as StarlightApartments.
The service also features an online tenant portal offering automatedprocessing for rent payments (through online debit, direct payment orcredit card transactions), receipts, online credit checks throughEquifax, lease applications and maintenance requests (that would be forreporting your leaky toilet or burned out bulb).
Beta user Brook Hamilton, who owns three rental units in one Torontoproperty, said the service will help him appear to be a bigger and moresophisticated rental operation than he really is, something that couldhelp him attract a better quality tenant who might pay more for accessto the online portal services.
“To be able to have a (personalized) Web site, it appears it’ll be pretty straightforward to put that together and customize it (with) pictures. To have your own Web site and tailor the message, it looks professional,” said Hamilton, who usually advertises his property listings on Craigslist or Kijiji.
Giving tenants various options for paying their rent online would savehim time and energy, Hamilton said, noting that two of his threetenants do email payments while the third still mails him a cheque.(PropertyVista’s online debit option costs a flat fee of $1.50 perpayment, while rent paid by Visa or MasterCard costs apercentage ofeach transaction amount, he said.)
As a landlord who got burned once before by a tenant who stopped payingrent – he had to take his case to court, is still owed about $7,000,and took the tenant to a collection agency – Hamilton also likes theEquifax online credit check feature, which he said costs a $20 flat fee.
“It was a huge waste of time and cost me months of rent,” Hamilton saidof his past run-in with a deadbeat renter. “Absolutely (the creditcheck feature) is one of the things I plan on using.”
Online tenants’ portal
One feature he doesn’t expect to get as much value out of is the onlinetenants’ portal, simply because with only three tenants, he has a morepersonal relationship with them that can be managed in person or overthe phone. Since he intends to increase his rental portfolio, however,Hamilton said he may use the portal in future: “I intend to grow so ifI have a few more units it may be a little bit more scalable.”
There are other games in town on the online property management front,including Yardi, but Hamilton and Drimmer both characterized it as moreaccounting focused compared with PropertyVista’s CRM emphasis. Anothernew property management app that entered beta testing in May isRentingWell from Ottawa-based firmSliced Bread.
The PropertyVista service is available on a month-to-month basisstarting at $14.99per month for managers of up to 50 units.
“If it’s above 50 units we do a custom quote,” Drimmer said, addingthat he hopes the service will transition from beta to fullavailability by this winter.