As you know, I manage my rental property in the UK from the distance. It is not always easy, but I have been lucky enough to find some great tenants, and we have a good communication. Basically, they let me know when something is wrong, for example when the washing machine breaks down, I pick a make and model, pay for it online or ask them to pay for the repair when I send a handyman of my choosing, and then I refund them by wiring the money straight into their account.
While the whole landlording experience has been pretty smooth so far, there have been some stressful times, like when the heater broke right before Christmas and they had to spend almost a week showering with cold water as I was desperately trying to get someone there between Christmas and new year, or when tenants have not been getting along and I had to let one of them go without making a scene.
At the moment, I use the most basic tool to manage the property: a spreadsheet. I only care about having a profitable operation, meaning that as long as the rental income covers the mortgage, the bills (I rent all bills included to avoid tension between tenants if they had to split the bills) and the repairs, I am happy. In the long run, I plan on having a property that paid for itself with the rents, and still generates an almost passive income.
But I often lack at keeping an exact track of all expenses. I have a small surplus every month if the property is rented, but in case of vacancies, or when a repair bill comes that goes over the surplus, I don’t track it to the last penny to make sure I am still at least breaking even.
So when I came across the new mobile Landlord app from Direct Line for Business, I thought it was a great idea. The app allows you to keep track of everything related to your tenants right there on your phone. You can create a profile for up to five properties, so you keep track of each one separately.
Under your property profile, you can store your tenant details, phone numbers and emails, as well as the contact of the repair people you trust, and homeowner association.
The Finance part makes it easy to calculate your returns, and track your income and expenses year after year. That is probably the section that would be most useful for forgetful people like myself. Since you have to call the plumber anyway to get your quote and have him come over, you can type directly into the app the cost of the operation, and it will be stored and added to your transaction history.
And finally, there is a calendar with reminders for anything regarding your property, like checking every year that you still get the best rate on home insurance or broadband internet, or reminding you every quarter to pay your share of building maintenance.