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Being a landlord can be a stressful business, especially if you own more than one property – but new technology is making it easier than ever to manage your buy-to-let portfolio.
This week sees the launch of open banking – a new way to share your financial data to get better deals. It’s been hailed as a potential revolution for the way we manage our money.
But how can landlords take advantage of the latest tech? Which? rounds up the apps which can help you track your expenses, manage your properties and even find new tenants.
Keep track of your finances
Aside from making sure rent is collected on time, landlords need to keep track of a number of other factors – including important repairs, safety certificate expiry dates, lease terms and outstanding bills.
New apps now offer landlords the ability to manage multiple properties from a single platform. The Mobile Landlord App, which is backed by Direct Line, allows you to track your income and expenses, and calculate your return on investment, on up to five properties. You can also set important reminders for key dates and bills due. The app is free to download.
Landlord Studio offers a dashboard where you can see all rent collected, outstanding amounts, and your overall cashflow, then generate reports. You can also create a profile for each property with all your tenants’ relevant details, and contact them through the app. It’s priced per property, which each costing about £6 per year.
With any app where you enter your financial information, make sure you understand what protections are in place – your data may be vulnerable to third party hackers. Be careful as well about how securely you store your tenants’ information, to make sure you safeguard their privacy.
- Find out more: Becoming a landlord – everything you need to know
Find new tenants
Advertising for tenants online has become commonplace – but some new apps are taking it a step further, offering referencing services and even digital contracts.
The mobile-optimised site Rental Step allows landlords to list their properties on portals for a £20 fee. When tenants apply for a property listed by the app, Rental Step provides you credit checking, a landlord reference and an employer reference for that applicant. You can also use the free tenancy contracts to sign a new lease.
The app Rentr allows tenants to apply online and arrange a viewing with you through the app. If you want to approve the applicant, you can then agree to terms, conduct reference and right to rent checks and draw up a tenancy agreement online, with both parties using DocuSign to electronically sign the document.
Pad, meanwhile, connects landlords with tenants that have previously been verified by the app. The platform also offers up to £20,000 in insurance for damage or arrears, rather than taking a deposit from tenants – although you should check their terms carefully and consider whether that would work for your circumstances.
Expand your portfolio
If you want to grow the number of properties you hold, you need to keep an eye on the local market. Property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove offer free apps, allowing you to scope out what’s up for sale.
Knowing how much a property sold for previously can help you decide how much you should offer today. The free Sold House Prices UK app collects all land registry data in an easy-to-use format – or you can check directly on HM Land Registry.
To see what else is on offer in the local area before you invest in it, the AroundMe app will show you nearby parking, hospitals, restaurants, shops and other useful facilities.
- Find out more: Buy to let mortgages explained
Prepare for a new lease
Conducting a thorough inventory before your tenant moves in can save you a headache when they move out, especially if your property is furnished.
The Inventory Pro app allows you to store details about every item in the property, alongside a video recording of each room. It currently costs £4.99 per tenancy.
Similarly, Rent Protector allows you to complete an inspection report, with your own comments and photos. It generates a PDF that can be sent to all parties. The app costs £9.99 as a one-off payment.
And if you want to give your property a face-lift, but are running low on inspiration, try the Home Decorating Ideas app. The free platform gives you tips for decorating for different rooms in your property.
Calculate your takings
If you want to work out your finances, you don’t necessarily need an app – or even a calculator.
If you’re trying to work out your stamp-duty costs, you can use our Buy to Let Stamp Duty calculator.