For most landlords, running a portfolio of buy to let properties can be a stressful business but there is help at hand with excellent accounting software packages tailored to meet a landlord’s needs.
This means that landlords can take advantage of technology to keep track of how their properties are performing and, for example, check when maintenance needs to be carried out and new rental contracts need to be organised. They can do this on their business computer or on their phone using an app.
However, it’s even easier when a landlord signs up to specific software that has been created with them and their business in mind. But which landlord accounting software packages are the best ones to use?
The search is difficult because most of the software packages promise to make a landlord’s life ‘easier’. These programs have various features and tools that do make running a BTL easier but they do vary between packages.
The bottom line is that the software should enable a landlord to manage their portfolio effectively, so it’s worth spending the time to find a program that best meets your needs and can be trialled for free – we would advise against handing over any financial details during the sign-up process.
Accounting programs for landlords
One word of advice from the Property Road team is that most accounting programs are for those landlords who have a portfolio so if you have one or two properties, then consider a cloud-based property management offering.
This cloud-based package will enable your business to grow and you will keep using the software program that you’ve come to trust without having to upgrade or switch to another product.
Also, some professional landlord organisations offer software programs for free, usually for up to three tenancies, as part of their membership offering so this is worth considering.
You may be wondering why you need to invest in specific software and you may be perfectly happy using Microsoft Excel, for example, but the spreadsheet has only basic features.
While you will be able to calculate income and expenditure, as your portfolio grows a simple spreadsheet may not deliver what is necessary, particularly should you need to track transactions and need to meet HMRC guidelines for working out tax liabilities.
The rental property software a landlord chooses
Essentially, the rental property software a landlord chooses should help keep their running costs down, boost profitability and help improve how you operate your business.
By investing in a quality product, a landlord is investing in their future by achieving efficient growth and removing some of the inevitable headaches that come with an investment property.
But it’s important to appreciate that any landlord wanting property management and accounting software is looking for help in managing their tenancy and in keeping accurate financial records to help with their accounting procedures.
This last point is important because HMRC is taking a closer interest in property investment and it’s important that you pay the correct tax on your earnings.
What property accounting software for landlords should offer
A quick checklist for what property accounting software for landlords should offer:
- One touch portfolio reports
- Integrated daily task reminders
- Lots of storage for each property’s details
- A simple accounting process.
If we take the above list as a starting point and then consider more specific accounting procedures that landlords may want, then we should also take into account:
- Easily produced reports on rental income and expenses
- Cash flow reports
- Tax reports
- Equity reports.
As an experienced landlord will know, keeping track of expenses and managing a property portfolio effectively is a crucial step to investment success.
However, for those that are new to property investment they may not appreciate they need to record their tenant’s references and have proof of their identification, particularly if they are renting out a property in England and will need to meet the Right to Rent checks.
Landlord accounting software is important
Landlord accounting software is particularly important if you do not live close to your investment property since travelling to visit it may be a time-consuming undertaking and you’ll still need to keep on top of the important tasks, such as renewing the Gas Safety certificate every year.
And if you use a letting agent, you will still need to keep a record of any maintenance work and you should appreciate that the software will need to highlight any change in the regulations for the rental sector, so you keep up-to-date with new laws.
Landlords will also need access to legal documents that are not just well written but effective and legal whenever they are used.
A lot of landlords are using generic tenancy agreements they find online but should your relationship with the tenant turn sour, then this poorly drawn-up agreement may be worthless and you will wish you had relevant legal agreements drawn up instead. With most landlord software offerings, these documents are available.
The software offerings that should make your shortlist should include those from Property Portfolio Software, Landlord Vision plus the free offerings such as Property Hawk, Rent Central and Smart Property Manager so you can compare the paid-for features effectively.
We showcased some of these in our guide to the 10 best tools for property investors in the UK.
Big test for any landlord accountancy offering
One big test for any landlord accountancy offering is for the program to complete a landlord’s SA105 (Property) form by collecting all of your tax details together – this will be a boon to a busy landlord and ‘accidental’ landlords.
Finally, when researching the potential of landlord accounting packages, it’s important to check out which ones are the best rated and which ones attract the best independent reviews.
You should appreciate that accountants are playing an increasingly important role in helping landlords with their investment decisions. Having accurate records and data will be helpful for your accountant too.
Our recommended software – Landlord Vision
For the Property Road team, of all the landlord accounting software packages that are available, one of the best also happens to be one of the best priced – and that is Landlord Vision.
Not only will the Landlord Vision offering meet all of the above requirements but also enable a landlord to keep track of their loan and mortgage management, record their suppliers’ contact details as well as their rental income.
Landlords who sign up to their offering will enjoy:
- An easy to learn package
- Key tasks can be automated
- Reminders for important events
- Will work anywhere (including on a smartphone app)
- Easily manage a portfolio of any size
- Up-to-date legal documents
- Unlimited support
- Keep track of property visits and tenant interactions
- Reduce admin time by 31%
- Landlords can suggest new features
However, one of the stand-out features for us is the impressive video tutorials that help train landlords in getting the best out of the package – and the support system is prompt too for specific queries.
For those landlords who use agents, using this software is a big step towards easy direct management and saving on their agents’ fees.
In addition, the package is continuously evolving to meet a landlord’s needs – if you are worried about the ‘making tax digital’ push by the government don’t be because Landlord Vision’s makes compiling tax returns quick and easy.
You can read our full Landlord Vision review if you want to know more.
Landlord Vision will offer what property investors need
For many landlords, Landlord Vision will offer what property investors need today to enjoy BTL success and, more importantly, offer what they need in future too.
So, do you own research to see if it’s right for you. But, whatever you decide, make sure you take the accountancy side of property investment seriously. Sure, it may not be where the glamour is, but it’s extremely important to your success.