2020’s Best Property Management Software for <20 Units

Want to know the best thing to happen to the rental real estate industry since the mortgage? It’s software. But very recently it actually became good for small scale real estate investors (<20 units). So today we will guide you to the 2020’s best rental property management software for investors with under 20 properties.


Until recently, all the best software was only for big-time real estate professionals with hundreds of houses and a big price tag to match. Now, suddenly you can get great software without breaking the bank and it works great for people without piles of houses (I’ll call it under 20).

Through my research, and not to mention trial and error, I’ve definitely found that the right software can turn landlording into a breeze. So, if you’re not using software – you’re doing rentals wrong

Rental property management software automates so many things:

  • The process of listing and marketing a vacant property. One-click!
  • Sending tenants leases and pre-requisite forms to fill out. Automated!
  • Tenant screening with criminal, job and credit history. A push of a button!
  • Follow-ups for late rent payments. Automatic!
  • Calling in contractors. Through an app!
  • Tracking income, profit, and losses. Obviously automated!
  • They even print out forms for your taxes

Seriously, it’s a game-changer. If you don’t use special rental software you need to start. So let’s dive in. What is the best rental property management software for investors without hundreds of houses?

Criteria for: 2020’s best rental property management software?

This is how we evaluated the best software:

  1. Pricing. What is best all the way down to one rental. Some software starts at a few hundred dollars a month which isn’t small portfolio friendly.
  2. Ease of use. A.K.A. Does it have a nice app? This is the 21st century. 
  3. Features. If it doesn’t automate the boring stuff then why bother?
  4. Secret Sauce. What makes them special? Why would you use them specifically?
  5. Service & Reviews. I wouldn’t even buy a toaster off of Amazon without mostly 5-star reviews.
    Plus, I tested out every company’s support by sending piles of questions to them to answer. Service is really important, everyone runs into problems sometimes. With a good service team you can get through it quickly and stress-free.

What do I mean by small portfolio-friendly?

A lot of software out there is made for full-time real estate professionals. People who manage 50 units themselves or hundreds of units with some help.

That software is priced accordingly for the big leagues and doesn’t scale well down to a smaller level.

PropertyWare, for example, is a very popular rental property management software but it starts at $250/month for the basic features plus a $500 setup fee. It’s great if you rent out 500 properties but the pricing doesn’t make sense when you have less than 20 units.

This is about the best rental property management software for under 20 properties only. I don’t care what’s best for a large company. They aren’t looking at my blog posts anyway!

Another important factor is that it has to have the features and the automation present to turn our side landlording job from a chore into a breeze.

Some things NEED to be automated for us small real estate portfolio folk.

An easy example, if you are running the show, you don’t have a secretary answering the phone so you need another way to deal with communications and logging information.

property-management-sofware-review-app
Talk about old-fashioned. Paper. Blech!

2020’s Best Property Management Software for small portfolios:

I’ve actually pored over a whole bunch of apps and programs, called or emailed their customer support, and crawled into the deep dark web for reviews. Here are the four that came out on top for what we’re looking for. 

I don’t like to waste time. So I’m starting with the winner! 2020’s best rental property management software for under 20 properties is:

Landlord Studio:

property-management-software-review-landlord-studio-logo

Pricing: $1 per unit per month. No setup fees.

The pricing on this service is unbelievably low for what you get! It doesn’t even have a setup fee! Fantastic! Even better the first 2 months are free through my link!

Ease of use: The app is awesome! No, not just awesome. It’s the best app I’ve found by far. Everything is where you expect it to be and just in case you are a laptop kind of a person they have a nice online portal too.

property-management-software-review-landlord-studio
Landlord Studio App and Interface

Features: LandlordStudio doesn’t have pricing tiers so you get every feature right off the bat.

  • Listing vacant properties through the app.
  • State-specific leases
  • Tenant screening
  • Late rent notices
  • Income and expense tracking
  • Output schedule E’s for tax time
  • Contractor and tenant communication tracking

There is one thing missing though. ACH deposits through the app. It works well with ZellePay or Venmo (which charge no fees!) but I certainly like ACH deposits (aka direct money removal from the tenant’s account).

The Venmo/ZellePay integration is so good (those have no fees too!) that I don’t really count this as a negative. Plus, I spoke to a service person and they said ACH payments were in the works for the next few months. 

Special Sauce: The app is amazing and the price is even better. I can do everything from the app and that makes my life great. Combine that with super service and nothing can get in your way. I can’t find anything bad to say!

Service: The service is nuts even if you aren’t paying yet. I was getting responses almost instantly at midnight and on weekends! I don’t know who works there but I’m glad it’s not me!

Reviews: CapTerra (a software review site) has a pile of reviews where it’s averaging close to 5 stars. Everyone references the amazing service that you get from the team at LandlordStudio.

Avail

property-management-software-review-avail

Pricing: $25 per month for 5 units (minimum) + $4 per month for each additional unit

They have cheaper plans but they are pretty bare-bones and I wouldn’t bother with them.

Ease of use: It’s nice. There’s a nice site with all the features. But it’s no sweet app. 

Features: The $25/month avail service covers you for what you need. Premium support, expense tracking and all the payment things you could want.

Secret Sauce: I couldn’t really figure out what Avail’s secret sauce would be. It’s overall nice but it’s not the best on the list.

Service & Reviews: Everyone seems to like Avail well enough, and people have good things to say about their support (at least at the premium service level tiers.) 

Spark Rental:

property-management-software-review-spark-rental

Price: $19 per month for 5 units or $39 for unlimited units

It’s not the cheapest or the most expensive

Accessibility: No app…even though they call it their “Landlord App”. Very tricky! Everything is through an online portal. The portal is nice, but it’s no app.

Special Sauce: This one is really cool! The best feature of SparkRental is RentDeduct. It’s something you can set up with your tenant to take money straight from their paycheck which would make it even more reliable than an automatic ACH withdrawl from their bank account.

Then they have no choice but to pay you on time which is AMAZING if you have trust issues or an untrust-worthy tenant. 

One caveat: There is a 4% charge for that service which is easily worth it to dodge the stress of a troublesome tenant.

Features: It has everything we are looking for:

  • Property ad listing to multiple sites: Trulia, Zillow and Hotpads
  • State-specific leases
  • Tenant screening
  • Online rent collection
  • Late rent notices
  • Income and expense tracking
  • Output schedule E’s for tax time
  • Communication tracking – includes calendars and maintenance logs

Service and Reviews: I couldn’t find a review about the program or the service but I was getting responses from their service people within a day and they were always good.

TurboTenant

property-management-software-review-turbo-tenant

Pricing: It’s Free! But you don’t get anything 🙁

TurboTenant is for a different kind of small portfolio landlord. Really, it’s just an online store for your rental needs like ‘For Rent’ signs, or criminal checks. 

Ease of use: It’s like a landlord’s Amazon. Leases, signs, whatever.

BUT, there are no accounting or online payment features so this doesn’t improve your quality of life much.

Features: TurboTenant doesn’t have any built-in features. It’s a nice site though buy things you need. It’s definitely not what I was looking for.

Special Sauce: You don’t pay for what you don’t need but you don’t get anything consistent. The all in one apps are easily worth it though so this is not recommended.

Service & Reviews: TurboTenant gets great reviews and I see claims everywhere of good service. My short experience with them was good too (useful responses within the day). I’m not surprised really. Everything on the site is sold a-la-carte so if you are having an issue with a purchase they will want to help you 😛

Honorable Mention: Cozy

I quickly want to mention Cozy. It’s newish and generally well-loved. It doesn’t get a special spot for me on this list because it just differs from LandlordStudio in 3 ways (which make it worse):

  1. No app. Apps make life so much easier, I can’t get over it.
  2. No accounting. Not needing to sum everything up at year-end is worth good money.
  3. Zero monthly fees. That’s nice, but doesn’t make up for the 2 above bullets.

Is cozy bad? No. Definitely not. LandlordStudio was just better and almost the same.

TL;DR – Clear Winner for 2020’s best rental property management software

I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much time I spent reviewing the piles of apps to find the best ones – including calling in with legitimate questions just to get a sense of the service – and many didn’t make the cut.

If you have a small rental portfolio (under 20 units,) I’m comfortable recommending any of the above. 

However. My clear favorite is Landlord Studio. It has the best app, unbelievable service, all the features you want and the price was amazing. 

If you self-manage your properties or are about to start, I strongly recommend signing up for LandlordStudio. If you have 1 house it’s only $1/month. Plus if you sign up with my super special link you get two months for free to try it out. The value for the money is just too good. 



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