Rental properties are one of the most approachable and reliable ways to build wealth over time. In addition to earning a return on your initial investment when you eventually sell the property, you should be able to cover your monthly mortgage payments with the rent money that your tenants provide (with a few hundred dollars of additional profit).
However, being a landlord isn’t exactly hands-free. You’ll need to spend time researching the right properties, keeping them occupied with the right tenants, and maintaining them to keep them livable and appealing. It’s stressful, but creating a website to help you manage your property can help mitigate difficulties.
Advantages of a Website
These are just some of the benefits that a website can bring you:
- Better organization. Landlords are required to be highly organized, with files for each property, meticulously kept tax records, and notes on anything that goes wrong. Keeping everything on a website helps you stay better organized, with digital files rather than paper files and an easy way to reorganize should you need to make accommodations for new tenants or new properties. If you ever encounter a problem with a property, you’ll be glad to have all its information available online.
- Automated rent payments. Different platforms also allow you to collect rent payments online. Tenants can log into your system, connect to a credit card or bank account, and make a payment 24 hours a day. This is convenient for them, since it spares them the effort of writing a check and mailing it, and will help you streamline and keep track of your income over time. You’ll also be able to identify problems with tenant payments proactively, with a securely recorded payment history to back you up.
- Property advertising. There are many ways to advertise a property when you need to attract new tenants (or sell), and generally, the more avenues you pursue, the faster you’ll fill that vacancy. Creating your own website gives you a free (or at least inexpensive) additional outlet to make your property visible. If you blog regularly, you can even use inbound marketing tactics like SEO to generate additional traffic.
- Tenant application and screening. Securing reliable tenants is one of the most important keys to maintaining a profitable rental property, and operating a website gives you more opportunities to get the job done right. You can collect tenant information digitally (so you can keep it on file, should they end up renting from you), collect application payments where appropriate, then use that information to run credit and background checks to inform your decision.
- Repair requests. No matter how new or well-maintained your property is, it’s bound to face some kind of repair issue. When that happens, you should be available via text or phone call for emergencies, but for non-emergencies, you may not want to be bothered. That’s why an automated “repair request” section of your site can be valuable for both you and your tenants; they can file a request immediately, and you can review it at your leisure. Both of you then have the documentation to prove what happened and when.
Should You Get a Website?
Any property owner can benefit from having a website to help manage things, but if you have any of the following, you can benefit even more:
- Multiple properties. The more properties you own, the more complex your responsibilities are going to become. You’ll need to advertise, keep tabs on, and find tenants for each one of them, which can become nightmarish in complexity after just three or four separate locations. A website becomes more important with each new addition.
- Tenant turnover issues. If you find that one or more of your properties has high tenant turnover, it may be time to invest in a website. This will help you find better tenants, organize your communication with them to prevent them from leaving, and proactively manage any issues that come up.
- Complicated tax returns. If your tax returns are already complicated, having all your property-based financial information in one place becomes even more important.
- Other responsibilities. Only some landlords operate full-time; others have full-time jobs and other responsibilities. If that’s you, you may need to save time to manage them all simultaneously.
You can start a website for free, though depending on what service you use, collecting online rent payments could cost you some extra money. Still, if you’re doing the work yourself, you should be able to get started in as little as a few hours. If you treat it as a work in progress, updating the website gradually, it won’t have to be a major undertaking; in as little as a few days, you could be up and running with a fully automated system to take some of the complication out of your landlord responsibilities.