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Proptech – Why a simple landlord app won’t cut it

If you work in the property industry you may already know about the latest buzzword ‘proptech’. It describes innovations that combine property and technology to streamline processes, improve services and save time and money.

We now live in an age where the vast majority of our lives are planned, delivered and recorded online; from social gatherings organised via Facebook to digital workspaces communicated via Slack; virtual video meetings over Zoom and Skype, and archives of data organised in Dropbox and Google Docs. It is no surprise that the property sector is moving in the same direction.

ipad_lgThese ‘cloud’ communication services can be immensely valuable but they can also become somewhat of a burden if they are not managed effectively. We have all experienced the annoyance of being unwantedly added to a noisy Facebook chat or the frustration of losing an important piece of information in a long and disorganised email thread. Furthermore, there are so many emerging proptech developments, each claiming they are set to ‘disrupt the industry’. How are we supposed to choose which is right for us?

In the case of property rentals, there is an abundance of landlord ‘apps’ to choose from. A quick Google of ‘useful landlord apps’ brings up a whole host of ‘Top 10 Landlord Apps’ articles. Many of these apps are undoubtedly helpful in tackling the various different hurdles you may encounter in the world of property rental – reporting repairs, managing your rent, finding tenants – but the problem is you will need a few different ones to cover all the bases. If you are not careful then this can lead to duplicate data and time.

Apps are generally suited to handling simple tasks. If you are looking for a more comprehensive solution for managing your property then you are best off selecting a web application that you can access from any device (mobile tablet laptop etc). This makes it easier when you want to upload documents and bulk import data from your computer. Having mobile access means you can still check-in and respond quickly to incoming messages from your phone when you’re out and about.

What support are you looking for?

Landlords generally turn to the support of an estate agent for assistance in several common areas:

  • Finding tenants (although if you’re a great landlord then you may not have to do this as often)
  • Creating suitable legal documents (Tenancy Agreements etc.)
  • Providing a point of contact for your tenants
  • Managing rent and contacting your tenant
  • Completing tenant checks
  • Reporting repairs
  • Keeping your property compliant
  • Handling deposits
  • Managing inventories

Many landlords also turn to the support of an estate agent because it gives their business the professional front.

Our top proptech picks

Now let’s take a look at where the latest proptech can take over and give the independent landlord complete control.

Finding tenants – Rightmove and Zoopla dominate the market here but don’t rule out Gumtree for effective free listings. Spare Room can be used to list a spare room to rent, or an entire property for that matter.

Tenant deposit – the traditional recommended route for handling deposits is via one of three schemes; the Tenant Deposit Scheme (TDS), Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) and My Deposits; but there are alternatives. Reposit and Tenant Circle enable the tenant to pay the equivalent of one week’s rent, which then provides the landlord with a protection value of 6 weeks rent. With billions of pounds being currently held in deposit schemes, this is an attractive option for both the landlord and tenant.

Finding tradespeople – most landlords prefer the traditional route of recommendation but when that isn’t an option then you could try My Builder. Post a job out to a selection of tradespeople and then check their reviews and work history before making a selection, then benefit from full accountability through feedback.

Creating legal documents, reporting repairs, auto-emailing your tenant, setting reminders, managing inventories, generating reports, proving a point of contact for tenants, keeping your property compliant, managing rent and providing a professional front (basically everything else) – a shameless plug for our own Letgate portal – we have scoured the options and Letgate really is the most comprehensive property portal. One affordable monthly subscription enables you to manage all of your properties in one place, as an independent landlord. It is a powerful piece of proptech.

Final thoughts

The best way to use technology and avoid a digital cloud headache is to keep it simple. The above suggestions provide everything you need to be able to effectively manage your property rental online, without the support of an agent.

Recent reports show that demand for rental properties is the highest since the 1930s and a growing number of landlords are choosing the self-sufficient route. The rise in property technology is undoubtedly empowering landlords to go independent but be sure to choose your technology wisely!

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