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How can landlords use technology to manage their portfolios?

picture of a furnished flat with a To Let sign

Technology has developed at an incredible rate, especially over the last decade. There are now so many tech tools that landlords can use to manage their buy to let portfolios themselves, or in conjunction with property Virtual Assistants (VAs), from a mobile phone.

In this blog post, I go through 4 different ways that landlords can use technology in the management of their buy to let portfolios, thereby increasing efficiencies, and improving profit margins.

Landlords are now spoilt for choice with lots of different providers of property and tenant management software. Not only did the NRLA launch NRLA Portfolio on 4 September (which is free for NRLA Members – join here), but Landlord Vision released a new and improved version of their software (v2) on the same day.

In this blog post, I review Landlord Vision v2, together with the Lendlord portfolio management tool, Asana and the DIY option of landlords using their own website as a mini property portal.

For each of these tools, I explain in detail what it does, how much it costs, what I like about it, what its downsides are and how it helps landlords manage their own properties and improve margins.

>> Related Post: How to manage a growing property portfolio

>> Related Post: How to self-manage your buy to let

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1. Landlord Vision: All-in-one Tenant and Property Management Tool

Landlord vision LV2 on an iphone - tech
The new and improved Landlord Vision v2, launched 4 September 2023

What is Landlord Vision?

The OG Landlord Vision (v1) is an all-in-one, in the cloud, tenant and property management tool that has been around since 2013. The company itself started out as property tax experts in 2002, and since then has brought out a succession of more sophisticated products for landlords.

On 4 September 2023, Landlord Vision launched a new and improved version (v2) that is more than an upgrade, but is a complete redesign with a new user interface and a totally different back-end.

Is the new Landlord Vision (v2) platform any good?

I’ve given Landlord Vision v2 a little road test, having also trialled the legacy version (v1). It’s clear that this is a different product from v1, and I’m really impressed at how light, airy and fast v2 is. It’s a lot easier to use and it makes the old one look a bit old-fashioned in comparison. Whilst there’s no mobile app, but the mobile version of the site is very quick and is nicely designed for the small screen.

The user interface of v2 is uncluttered and simple, and it’s quicker than the previous version, especially on a mobile. The dashboard is great, and you can see things at a glance. You can click through from the dashboard to different items. It also enables landlords to store documents and set up reminders for safety certificate expiries, like Lendlord (and NRLA Portfolio).

You can upload expenses, sign documents electronically, set up a live feed with your bank account. Accounts can either be on a cash or accruals basis, and it raises invoices. You can also use their tenancy agreements, and they have options for single lets and HMOs. It even helps track the Right to Rent status of each tenant, and set up notifications when the Right to Rent is due to expire.

However, unlike the original LV v1, v2 does not yet have the key tenancy module, although I’ve been told it will be launched in the coming months. Why is this important? The tenancy module allows landlords to move all communications with tenants to the platform. This means no more WhatsApp groups for landlords, no more giving out phone numbers, and everything has an audit trail.

As LV v2 doesn’t yet have a tenancy module, if this is something that’s important to you, it’s best you wait until it’s launched.

Compatibility with Making Tax Digital is also something that will be launched in due course.

How much does Landlord Vision cost?

Bearing in mind all that Landlord Vision will be able do once the tenancy module is rolled out, and the fact it makes self-managing larger portfolios so much easier, the Premium package of v2 is excellent value at £39.97 pcm for 15 tenancies, and £1.30 for additional tenancies.

The Basic package for 5 tenancies is £19.97 a month and the Standard for 10 tenancies is £29.97 pcm.

I think that if you’re going to throw your lot in with Landlord Vision, and take the time to upload all the documents and manage your tenancies with it (once launched), you’d might as well go for the full Premium package.

Why do I like Landlord Vision?

Landlord vision 2 on laptop, mobile and ipad
Landlord Vision v2 is optimised for laptops, tablets and mobiles alike

Landlord Vision v2 promises to be the all-singing, all-dancing prop tech software that is designed to helps landlords manage their own properties (once the tenancy module is launched).

I like how it works just as well on a mobile as a laptop. This makes it really easy to check things on the go. You can store everything in there and as it’s in the cloud, you can’t lose it. If your laptop gets stolen and you haven’t back up your files, it doesn’t matter. Everything will be there. (incidentally, this is the same for v1).

Unlike Asana (see below), it’s designed specifically for landlords, and it does all that Asana, does and more. This makes it easier to use than Asana, you can drag and drop documents into ready made containers.

Landlord Vision v1 is already Making Tax Digital Compliant (MTD), which means that landlords will be able to use it to keep digital records and provide quarterly updates on their income and expenditure to HMRC. MTD is due to be rolled out for landlords with an income of more than £50,000 in April 2026, and April 2027 for those with an income between £30,000 and £50,000.

I’ve been told that MTD will be rolled out for v2 in good time for 2026.

Finally, the customer support is UK-based, and was very responsive when I got in touch.

What are the drawbacks of Landlord Vision (v2)?

As mentioned above, LV v2 is in the first stage of a six month roll out of the features.

Like all property management tech tools for landlords, it’s only useful if it has up-to-date and complete information and documentation. This means the documentation not only needs uploading at the beginning, but it needs updating. This doesn’t happen magically by itself.

As Jane Scroggs of Beam, an agency for specialist property virtual assistants, says: “To maximise the benefits of a property management CRM, consistent commitment is essential. This commitment includes ensuring bank feeds and rent balances match, and checking for reported maintenance issues.”

The main drawback of Landlord Vision from my perspective as a landlord without a VA is the time it takes to upload all of the documents, set expiry dates, and customise the settings. That said, it’s the same with any similar system.

Another drawback is that it can be overwhelming, as there are so many features. Let’s take invoicing. Although it’s really helpful for landlords with limited companies to have the full accounting capability, sole trader landlords might not need this. However, it’s possible to turn off invoices.

This is the case with all of the features. It just takes time to figure out what you need, and how to hide the features you don’t need.

If you already have version 1 of LV, it will probably be best to hold off changing to v2 until all of the features have been rolled out.

How does Landlord Vision help landlords self-manage?

Landlord Vision is a great tech tool for landlords who don’t use property managers and either manage their properties themselves, or with the help of a VA.

Everything is on one system, and if reminders are set for safety certificates, landlords needn’t worry about forgetting to update them.

For landlords who want a little distance between themselves and the tenants, using the Landlord Vision portal for tenant management means that communication can stay on the platform, with an audit trail. This means no more giving out mobile phone numbers and email addresses.

2. Lendlord – Freemium Portfolio Management Tool

Screenshot of the co-branded webpage of Lendlord and The Independent Landlord property management tool

What is Lendlord?

Lendlord is a portfolio management platform that is well known for its excellent free BTL Deal Analyser, which will calculate the key metrics of a buy to let purchase (net annual cash flow, gross yield, first year and long term ROI etc) and its Flip Analyser.

Lendlord also have a portfolio management system which enables landlords to save their property documents on the platform (like Landlord Vision and Trello for that matter), set up reminders and analyse the financials on an ongoing basis. It will also provide data on the performance of the portfolio, eg ROI, LTV, and yield.

The Premium version of Lendlord allows landlords to link their bank account, upload unlimited documents and provides access to sophisticated market data. It also includes 5 free tenant reference checks.

It focuses on portfolio management, which doesn’t include the more advanced tenant management features of Landlord Vision.

How much does Lendlord cost?

The core functionality is free. The Premium version with all the bells and whistles is only £99 a year, but readers of The Independent Landlord can get a 40% discount if they upgrade to the Premium version when they sign up using the link below:

Why do I like Lendlord?

Lendlord’s free core functionality is excellent, helping keep landlords organised, and making it easy to track performance and expenses. It’s fairly straightforward to use as well.

The app is particularly well-designed and easy to use. The Premium version is very good value for landlords.

What could be improved?

I find the pop up chat box on the right-hand side of the screen to be distracting. However, it’s possible to dismiss it by clicking on the X (it took me a while to figure that out).

I think the design of the app is better than the desktop version, where I’d prefer to be able to enlarge the view for each property, instead of using the horizontal scroll bar.

Finally, it’s a half-way house towards to the full property and tenant management system that Landlord Vision offers. Some landlords might feel that they would rather pay a bit extra to have a more comprehensive management tool.

How does Lendlord help landlords self-manage?

Lendlord helps landlords and property investors to keep on top of the key performance metrics. The free version is a good way of organising documentation and setting reminders.

3. Free project management tools like Asana and Trello

Trello on a macbook

What are Asana and Trello?

Trello and Asana are two similar online project management platforms that enable members of a team to exchange information, set up processes and tasks, and track progress. They’re also useful for one person bands to store information and track tasks that need to be done.

They are particularly effective for landlords who can use them to set up boards for each property where they can file safety certification, keep details of trades people, template emails and messages, store checklists and tenancy documentation. You can also manage maintenance requests from tenants, set due dates, assign tasks, track tasks through to completion. You can even track Gas Safety certificate expiry dates.

Jane Scroggs, who runs Beam, a VA agency, highly recommends Asana and Trello: “Work management platforms like Asana and Trello are hugely underutilised by landlords. Even using the free plan, landlords can centralise all their portfolio information and stay on top of expiry dates, maintenance issues and compliance.” 

How much do Asana and Trello cost?

As Jane points out, it’s possible to use the list, board and calendar functions on Asana free of charge for two “seats” (people with the organisation domain name for emails). However, the calendar view is not free in Trello.

The Premium Plan for Asana is £9.49 pcm and the Premium Plan for Trello (which includes the calendar view) is $10 pcm.

Why are Asana and Trello useful for landlords?

They are very useful tech tools for portfolio landlords who have VAs or a team, or perhaps a couple who run a portfolio together. It’s very efficient having one place to store everything, which can be accessed by everyone on a laptop or even via an app. It’s also searchable.

It saves having to scour inboxes, WhatsApp messages, Google drives etc. to find documents and records. Even emails can be saved on the platform. It’s also got template legal documents which landlords can customise, including ASTs.

What are their drawbacks?

Asana and Trello are only as good as the quality of the information being continually uploaded and updated. It also relies on team members playing their part and sharing the right information.

It requires time, effort, continued dedication and mindset to make it work successfully. I suspect it’s something that VAs would keep up to date well, but which maybe a single landlord working on their own might find time-consuming, and prefer to save documents in Google or iCloud folders and set calendar reminders.

How do Asana and Trello help landlords self-manage?

Asana and Trello can also help self-managing landlords get organised, and save the management fee they pay to managing agents.

They can be used as a free alternative to property management software like Landlord Vision.

4. Create an information website and mini portal for renters

Example of a landlord wordpress website on a Macbook Air: Suzanne Smith Properties

Why create a website for renters?

If a landlord has more than one or two properties, it’s a good idea to have a central place to put information and policies for sharing with renters.

As an alternative to using a property and tenant management system like Landlord Vision, it’s possible to create a mini portal on your own website.

You can easily register a domain name with your business brand name, and this has the added advantage of enabling you to set up a branded email account.

The website can also be used in marketing to attract tenants, and a contact form makes it easy for renters to register their interest. A good example of this is the Classhouse Property website, which has a simple by stylish one page website that contains a lot of information for potential renters. She uses her website to attract renters and add them to her waiting list, and Landlord Vision to manage the tenants once they’re on board.

I have a simple website, Suzanne Smith Properties, which provides renters with information about renting one of my properties. As well as including an FAQ Page, my Pet Policy, and an About Page, each of my tenants has their own page that’s password protected where I provide them with specific information about their property. I also upload all the certificates (eg Gas Safety Certificate, EICR and EPC) onto their page.

It’s effectively a hybrid electronic Property Manual and portal, which is very useful for landlords who don’t use Property Management software.

Here is a template version of the mini portal that you’re welcome to “borrow” as a guide to create your own. I make a QR code of the page and give it to them they move in, as you can see in the photo below.

>> Related Post: Landlord Guide: How to create an effective website

How much does a website cost to set up and run?

There are two main options for landlords to set up a website: Wix and WordPress.

Wix

Wix has the advantage of being an all in one option that is designed to help people with no experience set up a website. I used it myself, and it is fine for a basic website. However, I wouldn’t use it for anything more complex like a blog.

Wix is an an all in one platform that packages up website building and hosting. Depending on the package chosen, the cost is £90-£240pa for a website with your own domain name that doesn’t have Wix branding.

WordPress

WordPress is infinitely customisable, and will provide a better result. However, it’s time-consuming to master without any previous experience (it took me about a month to learn how to build the first version of this website in 2022).

WordPress on the other hand is an open source content management system, or structure, which you can customise to meet your own needs. The platform itself is free, but you need to pay for hosting, and probably also a theme, although there are many free themes. Based on using SiteGround as a host for the website and the Essential Bundle of Astra Pro as a theme, the cost is £145pa, including. abasic bundled email. It’s possible to do it for £36 pa with just SiteGround and the free version of Astra. Therefore the cost is from £36 – £145 pa.

Building the website

There is also the cost of building the website if you or your VA does not have the time, expertise or inclination to build a website, it’s easy to find someone to do it for you on Fiverr. This is a direct link to Fiverr’s WordPress web developers, and this is the page for Fiverr’s Wix web developers.

>> Related Post: How much does a website cost to set up and run?

Why do I like having a website for renters?

I’m a self-managing landlord with a portfolio of properties, and want to demonstrate my professional yet personal approach. Having a website lets me show I’m organised, and that I have well-thought out policies and information for renters.

I also like being about to have an online House Manual for every property, where I can upload the various certificates (EPCs, EICRs, Gas Safety Certificates etc), and answer the questions I’m commonly asked. It’s also somewhere for me to host my Pet Policy.

A website enables me to do this by creating a mini portal for tenants, without needing property / tenant management software like Landlord Vision.

I provide the details of the website to shortlisted renters when they come for a viewing. Once they move in, I give them the URL for their property page, and the password. This is a template of the property page.

My website is a branded space that I control and update, that doesn’t rely on a third party service like a property management platform.

What are the drawbacks of having a website?

A website is either time-consuming to set up, if you do it yourself, or it will cost money to pay someone to do it for you, even if you use a service like Fiverr.

If you want to be able to add content yourself, such as uploading documents to a property page, you’ll either need to learn how to do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you such as a VA.

In order to generate significant traffic to your website from search engines like Google, search engine optimisation (SEO) is effective but takes a lot of time. For instance, it took over six months before my hard work on SEO and publishing a weekly 2,000 word blog post for The Independent Landlord began to see fruit in terms of a high organic search traffic volume from Google.

That said, if the main purpose of the website is to use it to provide information to renters, where your site ranks on Google search isn’t important.

How does having a website help landlords self-manage?

A website is a relatively low cost way of having a branded presence online, and having a domain name also makes it easy to set up branded email accounts. A basic email account comes bundled with SiteGround hosting for a WordPress website.

A website is a good intermediary step for landlords who self-manage, but aren’t ready to use property / tenant management software like Landlord Vision.

If you use a property management platform, you won’t need a website to host property manuals, as you can do it on the platform. That said, you might want a domain name so that you can set up branded emails, using (say) Google Workspace, which is what I use.

Final thoughts

Landlords have so many tech tools at their disposal to help them manage their property.

It’s possible to leave behind spreadsheets, calendar reminders and WhatsApp groups, and embrace the mobile-friendly digital age with tools like Landlord Vision. The Lendlord portfolio management tool, on the other hand, is a good half-way house for those who don’t feel they’d fully benefit from Landlord Vision’s all-in-one platform.

For landlords happy with setting up a property management system themselves, Asana is a fantastic free tool.

Finally, a website can be a great asset for landlords, to provide information for prospective tenants, or even to create a mini portal for tenants once they’ve signed the tenancy agreement.

These tools do all require input from a landlord (or a VA), but they can make it significantly easier to manage rental properties.

4 ways landlords can use tech to manage their portfolios

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