Perfect Your Rental Property Management System Webinar

September 29, 2023

Introduction & Key Takeaways

Let’s dive into our discussion for today. Being an independent landlord doesn’t mean you have to handle everything by yourself. We’re here to guide you in assembling your ‘A’ team by following three key steps:

  1. Identifying any weaknesses and setting goals for your rental business
  2. Defining your operational processes
  3. Discovering and recruiting the right people to build a strong ‘A’ team for your business

Examining Weaknesses and Goals for Your Rental Business

Building a solid foundation requires self-reflection. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned player or just starting—maybe you haven’t even purchased your property yet. A critical yet often overlooked aspect of creating a lasting investment portfolio is:

  • tracking analytics,
  • reflecting on your progress, and
  • ensuring you have a roadmap to success.

Identifying our weaknesses

We’ll begin by focusing on your goals and weaknesses. It might be uncomfortable to face those weaknesses, but recognizing them is the first step to finding help and making your goals more attainable.

Now, let’s address the less enjoyable part—our weaknesses. Property management involves various tasks and interactions with tenants. It’s important to understand what energizes you and what drains you as a property owner. Handling draining tasks can lead to burnout and prevent you from maximizing your efforts.

Pencil and Paper Exercise

If you’re unsure about your weaknesses, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which tasks do I tend to procrastinate on?
  • Why am I procrastinating? Is it because they’re overwhelming or because I lack confidence in my ability to complete them?
  • How do these avoided tasks impact my progress toward where I want my portfolio to be?

If you do this exercise, I recommend using pen and paper to structure your thoughts. Divide a sheet into thirds and label the columns as follows:

  • Problem to Solve
  • Who Can Help
  • What Will the Solution Cost?

Identify the issues you’re facing and start planning. Prioritize each issue based on its impact on your bottom line—some will be more significant than others. We’ve created a digital version of this exercise you can use, and it will be shared in the chat. Whether you prefer traditional methods or digital tools, organizing your thoughts is crucial for creating an action plan and prioritizing next steps. And if you’re willing to share with us, please let us know in the chat which barriers you’re facing.

Obstacles faced by landlords

What’s the biggest barrier in your way? What do you avoid doing or struggle with in your rental business that you want to improve?

Krista Reuther:
Given Samantha’s extensive background in property management, I’m curious about her insights on potential obstacles landlords face as they build their portfolios or manage their daily operations.

Samantha Yadav:
One major challenge, especially for new landlords, tends to be documentation and record-keeping. Established processes and systems are crucial to starting strong and staying organized. Software like TurboTenant can be helpful for this. Personally, one of my challenges was related to managing expenses for multiple properties, such as cleanings or repairs. Keeping track of when services were scheduled and matching those to invoices received much later was difficult. To address this, I implemented a purchase order process to record orders, track costs, and link invoices to the corresponding work. This helped me stay organized and manage my properties more effectively.

Samantha Yadav: Yeah, so it looks like we’ve got expense tracking, expense tracking onboarding a new property, rent increases, tracking hours for real estate investments for tax purposes, getting rid of the bad tenants with evictions, minor repairs, finding new vendors and handy people, automated collections and reports, finding good contractors, quality contractors, finding great tenants, reasonably priced vendors.

Krista Reuther: These are all really important issues that you bring up, and thank you for sharing them, because like I said, it’s not exactly fun to look at your own weaknesses and establish, especially in a public setting, what those could be. But admitting that there is something you could work on or you need help with is the first step to actually getting it resolved. Also, as I mentioned, Samantha has a wealth of experience in this realm. She loaned me her very thick property management book for, let’s see, the Certified Apartment Manager program. So I was referencing this as we, as I went through and researched the presentation, there’s so much to learn. That’s why we’re saying, don’t feel like you have to take on everything at once. We’re of course always here to be a resource for you and we’ll go through this presentation and help you understand other spots where you can bring people in and establish processes that take some of those problems off of your back and barriers out of your way so you can do what you want to do.


Let’s shift our focus to something more exciting—your goals. I’m an advocate for the tactile experience of pen and paper, but choose whatever method works for you.

Goal-setting exercise

When setting your goals, consider using an organized approach with at least three columns to outline:

  • The specific goal you want to achieve
  • Where you could use help
  • Who could provide that help

Make your goals as specific as possible, such as saving three to six months’ worth of expenses, acquiring five more properties by 2030, or even retiring from your full-time job. Clearly defining your goals is crucial because it keeps you motivated and helps you navigate challenging times. When evaluating your goals, prioritize those with the highest return on investment (ROI) and the lowest cost to achieve. Alternatively, you may decide to prioritize a goal with a higher cost that provides significant motivation. It’s essential to set goals that are meaningful to you as they will differ from one landlord to another.

Now, I’m curious—what is your biggest opportunity or goal?

Whether it’s a short-term goal for this year, a target for next year, or a five-year goal, we appreciate goals that are quantifiable and actionable, with specific amounts, property numbers, or deadlines. This specificity will help you measure your progress and check in on your advancement toward your ambitions.

Samantha’s Property Management Goals Example


Samantha, how did you prioritize your goals among the various objectives you had when you managed multifamily properties?

In multifamily management, hitting occupancy goals was paramount. Weekly targets ranged from 94% to 96% occupancy. Exceeding 96% signaled that perhaps we should increase rates to remain competitive. Managing such a high volume of properties presents different challenges, like decreasing upcoming year’s expenses. This involves reviewing contracts, negotiating with vendors, and making even minor adjustments can yield significant savings over time. Meeting your goals is about setting clear targets and taking decisive action to achieve them.

Audience Goals

These are excellent goals.

  • Jene aims to build a retirement portfolio with an additional one or two properties in three years.
  • Tamara plans to expand her rental portfolio by June 2024—great to see a specific date. Others are looking to acquire more properties within two years, renovate vacant apartments, find a third property by the year’s end, retire in one to two years, and keep a furnished townhouse rented out consistently.

These goals are well-defined and actionable, providing a clear roadmap to success.

Incorporating strong numbers and actual figures into your goals makes them much more tangible. By quantifying your objectives, you begin to reveal the specific steps needed to achieve those targets. I appreciate you sharing them—they seem entirely within reach.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you, but more importantly, I’ll assist you along the way, primarily by ensuring that you have well-defined processes in place.

Defining Processes

Having well-defined processes in place is crucial for several reasons, not only because it streamlines your business operations, leading to increased efficiency since you get accustomed to doing tasks in a certain way which then takes less time with each iteration. It’s also essential from a legal standpoint.

Let’s take fair housing as an example. If you’ve got your tenant screening criteria clearly written out, and someone accuses you of a fair housing violation, you have solid documentation to defend your practices, showing that you evaluate every tenant using the same set of stipulations. This helps ensure that you don’t inadvertently violate the Fair Housing Act. Keeping thorough documentation of your processes acts as a safeguard when used correctly.

Defined processes and meticulous record-keeping are your greatest allies as a landlord. Even if you know your procedures by heart, it’s advisable to formally write them down. This not only sets you up for success if you plan to pass on your rental business to, say, your children but also allows you to review and improve your methods over time, irrespective of succession plans. If you’ve been doing everything mentally, now’s the time to put it in writing.

You might be wondering what I mean by ‘processes.’ In this context, a process is simply a sequence of steps taken to complete a task. A well-designed process ensures you’re maximizing efficiency with the least amount of long-term effort. Initially, setting up a process will require some work upfront, but this should lessen over time, becoming quicker with each repetition.

Example Processes for Landlords

Now let’s explore some examples that real landlords have faced.

Lease Drafting

Think about lease drafting—writing a fresh lease for each new tenant versus starting with a template and tweaking it as needed. The latter clearly saves time after the initial setup.

Tenant Selection

With tenant selection, relying on gut feelings versus a defined criteria list might seem quicker, but should you face legal troubles, you will wish you had laid out your minimum requirements clearly and concisely.

Rent Collection

What about rent collection methods? Allowing tenants to pay through different methods each month, or establishing a consistent payment process right from the start? Again, the consistent process wins out. If you’re interested in streamlining this further, our online rent collection service at TurboTenant can help—Jonathan, kindly share the link for anyone who might need it. Remember, putting in the effort at the beginning of any task, so these processes become repeatable, makes your landlord duties faster and more efficient over time.


  1. Marketing your vacancy involves writing listings, taking photos, researching local rents, and advertising both online and offline.
  2. Creating and screening rental applications, including credit, criminal, and eviction history checks.
  3. Meeting potential tenants, ideally in person or via video call.
  4. Draft your lease, collect signatures, and move-in costs.

Post-move-in management

Post-move-in management includes:

  • Being accessible for maintenance, emergencies, and general property inquiries.
  • Rent collection through your preferred channels, maintaining records of transactions.
  • Regular property inspections, documenting any findings and interacting with tenants.

Financial Management

Financial management is also key:

  • Track your expenses meticulously, with timestamps where possible, to stay ahead of legal issues.
  • Monitor your net operating income (NOI).
  • Satisfy your financial obligations including insurance, taxes, contractor fees, utilities, or HOA dues.
  • Aim for a reserve fund covering three to six months of expenses.

Setting up these processes will take some initial work, but it will set you up for success in your rental business.


We have a poll for everyone here. We want to find out which processes you haven’t established yet. Perhaps it’s marketing your rentals, drafting lease agreements, screening tenants, obtaining signatures on documents, collecting rent, managing maintenance, organizing document storage, or tracking expenses. We’ve listed these options for you. If there’s something else that you’re lacking a process for and would like to discuss or get advice on, please let us know in the chat.

Question for Samantha


It sounds like you’ve had to establish a new process for order management. Were there any other processes that you realized were missing when you were learning from this wealth of resources?


Certainly. While I had an abundance of resources at my disposal due to being involved with large multifamily operations and various associations, the onset of COVID-19 forced us to completely revisit our standard processes. With the restriction on in-person tours, we had to find safe and innovative ways to maintain a personal connection with prospects. Implementing FaceTime and virtual tours became essential, despite not being able to physically accompany them through my properties. We also created informational sheets with frequently asked questions to place within the apartments, anticipating the needs of potential tenants and overcoming the barrier of them feeling hesitant to ask questions through text or virtual calls. COVID-19 certainly pushed us to rapidly adapt and reimagine our entire approach to property tours and interactions.


Krista Reuther: I can only imagine the swift adjustments you had to make. It truly was an extraordinary and challenging time, to say the least—a time many have described as unprecedented.

Poll Results

Looking at the results of this poll, it seems there’s a widespread interest in developing processes for finding new investment properties, managing maintenance, and tracking expenses. It’s fascinating to see such a variety of needs. I’ll give you a sneak peek—our engineering and development teams are exploring ways to enhance our maintenance management capabilities. You already have the option for tenants to submit maintenance requests through TurboTenant, but we’ll delve into that a bit later. Before we move on, is there anything else you want to add to this topic, Samantha?

Samantha Yadav: I noticed a few comments in the chat about the security deposit process and the process for handling emotional support animals (ESAs). We’ve conducted a detailed webinar on ESAs, providing a wealth of information and resources specifically for landlords. If that’s an area of interest, you can find it in our webinar archives.

Also, we maintain a YouTube channel with ample resources, and I’d recommend subscribing if you haven’t already—there’s a treasure trove of valuable content.

Regarding the book inquiry from Erica, that’s part of the National Apartment Association’s Certified Apartment Manager course, so it’s not sold separately. The knowledge from the course has been shared between Krista and me and is continually passed on to you through our blogs, webinars, and TurboTalks, among other resources. So if you have any questions, there’s a good chance we’ve already covered it. Keep those questions coming.

Krista Reuther: Definitely. And to add to that, we also have a webinar focused on security deposits. It’s an essential aspect to understand for any landlord, so feel free to check that out too—we aim to provide you with all the knowledge you need.

Specific Tasks

To help you with your goals, let’s go over some generalized task lists that can serve as a starting point depending on your objectives. I say generalized because with such a diverse group, it’s not feasible to get extremely specific right now, but these guidelines should help.

If your goal is to expand your rental property portfolio, a pivotal first step is to define your buy box. This is where you determine the characteristics of properties you’re interested in, including must-haves, nice-to-haves, and deal-breakers. Once you’ve detailed your property criteria, you can either collaborate with a real estate agent who knows the local market or start scouting potential investment opportunities yourself.

Before diving into purchases, it’s wise to have conversations with your lender or any investment partners to ensure your financial readiness. After that, monitor the market until the right opportunities arise, and then proceed with the help of your real estate agent, particularly if they specialize in rental properties.

Furthermore, don’t underestimate the power of a positive landlord-tenant relationship. A good rapport can lead to tenant referrals, which can help reduce vacancy periods. You might even consider setting up a referral program, rewarding tenants who refer new renters—maybe with a simple incentive like a modest gift card—to motivate them to promote your rentals.

A universal tip for all landlords is to stay current with local landlord-tenant laws. This entails keeping track of any changes in legislation that may affect your business.

Subscribing to educational content, such as newsletters that provide regular updates, can be remarkably helpful. It’s also beneficial to join a landlord group where you can exchange knowledge, gain a sense of community, and possibly hear about investment opportunities through the group’s network.

Keep in mind, staying connected and informed through these resources can not only help you expand your portfolio but also ensure you’re managing it in compliance with the law.

Samantha Yadav: For those interested in joining a landlord group, I’ve just posted the link to our Facebook group, Better Landlords, which is a community of landlords discussing a wide array of topics. Just today, the discussion ranged from carpet replacement to tenant pet policies, and we also share lighter moments, like humorous things tenants say. It’s a great mix of sharing experiences and helpful advice, such as product recommendations for property maintenance. You’ll find support there, whether you’re facing challenges or looking for tips. If you decide to join, you’ll spot me actively participating in the conversations. Check out the link in the chat and we hope to see you in the group!

Finding your niche

If you’re aiming to elevate your rental business to a new level, one strategy is to pinpoint and develop a niche—a specific segment of the market you can specialize in and become an expert. Delving deep into a niche can open the door to higher earning potential, depending on what you choose and the dynamics of your market.

Some examples of niches are midterm rentals or short-term rentals, the latter being popular on platforms like Airbnb, though it’s wise to be aware of the regulations in your city to ensure viability. To find your niche, first evaluate the market—this could be where you’re currently investing or a new area you’re open to exploring. Ask yourself what makes the location attractive. Is it frequented by travelers, a center for business, near a military base, or close to a hospital? Identify what housing need is underserved, and position yourself to fill that gap.

Once you’ve determined a potential niche and the specific needs associated with it, look for properties that align with your target demographic. Don’t shy away from exploring different types of properties than you’re used to. For instance, if you’re experienced in single-family rentals, consider venturing into multifamily properties, especially if it complements your chosen niche and features amenities your target audience desires.

Say you’re targeting student renters; properties near campuses or well-connected to public transport would be advantageous. For locations with business hubs, properties that cater to short-term and midterm business travelers could be lucrative.

We’ve recently recorded a video about the ins and outs of midterm rentals which will be available on our YouTube channel soon. If you’re interested in diving deeper and expanding your expertise, not just in the number of units but also in the specialization you offer, researching and understanding your local market intimately is key. Once you’ve got a firm grasp on your niche, my advice is to commit wholeheartedly.

Building a legacy

For those aiming to build a legacy that can be passed on, it’s important to do thorough research and consult with an estate planning attorney due to the uniqueness of each individual’s financial and investment situation. There are several broad options available for legacy building, but each has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Some of the most common options include:

  1. Bequeathing properties in your will: This is often simpler and less expensive than forming a trust, and you maintain control over your properties throughout your lifetime. Changes to your will can be made anytime. However, the downside is that your estate will need to go through probate, which can be a protracted, public, and possibly costly process, potentially delaying your beneficiaries’ access to the properties.
  2. Transferring properties to a living trust: This option is more complex and can be more costly than a will, but it allows for the avoidance of probate, meaning beneficiaries might access the properties more quickly and privately. A trust also allows for detailed management and distribution instructions. However, once properties are in a trust, you forfeit some control, and amending the trust document can be more cumbersome than changing a will.
  3. Gifting or selling properties to your dependents: Another approach is to gift properties or sell them and give the proceeds to your dependents. This direct approach has its own tax implications and requirements, so it’s important to understand the potential consequences.

With all these methods, there are considerations to keep in mind, such as the impact of taxes and maintaining transparency with your heirs to prevent any unwelcome surprises. Whatever method you consider, the key is to structure your estate in a way that aligns with your objectives and provides clarity and ease for your heirs. Communicating your intentions and any responsibilities they may need to take on, like estate taxes, is also crucial. Making informed choices now will help ensure a smoother transition of your legacy when the time comes.


At this juncture, I’ll take a brief moment to address any queries in the chat.

Samantha Yadav: There are a couple of points to tackle. Firstly, some attendees have inquired about refining their tenant screening process to reduce the risk of problematic tenants. I’ll share a link to our comprehensive webinar on tenant screening in the chat for your convenience.

Additionally, a number of questions have emerged regarding the legal intricacies of bequeathing properties and ensuring your legacy is safeguarded. While we want to provide answers, the volume and complexity of these questions suggest we might need a dedicated session to cover them thoroughly. Therefore, I encourage you to participate in the survey at the end of this webinar, where you can leave any outstanding questions along with your email address. By doing this, it will help us craft a targeted resource that addresses your concerns in detail.

Building Your Team to Help You Successfully Manage Your Rental Business

Now, let’s focus on your team and the immediate steps we can take.

We’ve discussed areas for personal growth, and goals. We’ve touched on potential team members critical to achieving success. Remember, being an independent landlord doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. To scale up, retire, or manage your properties effectively, you’ll likely need support.

It’s vital to be clear about your objectives, which will guide you and help you pace your progress. Your goals can serve as your north star, and your challenges are milestones to overcome. This clarity, paired with a team that understands and assists with your endeavors, ensures that you move at an appropriate pace without becoming overwhelmed.

Given the numerous inquiries we receive about key team members for independent landlords, we’ve gathered some pertinent information to share with you.

General Contractor / Handyman

When it comes to maintaining and repairing your rental properties, you’ll need the assistance of a contractor or a handy person, and it’s important to understand the distinction between the two.

Contractors are typically specialized in a specific trade and should have the appropriate licensing for their areas of expertise, such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, or painters. A general contractor may oversee a project, coordinate with other specialized professionals, and employ their expertise in a particular trade. If you have a larger project, you might engage a contractor who, in turn, could bring in other licensed professionals as needed.

A handy person, on the other hand, handles simpler tasks that don’t require a specialized license, often working independently and charging lower rates. They are suitable for simpler jobs like tightening doorknobs, fixing minor leaks, or changing hard-to-reach light bulbs.

Before hiring someone, consider the following steps:

  1. Determine the scope of your project: Assess whether the work requires a licensed professional and consult with your local licensing office or state’s Department of Labor if needed.
  2. Get recommendations: Reach out to local landlord groups, colleagues, and friends who have undertaken similar projects for potential leads.
  3. Research: Check out potential candidates’ reviews, and ratings with sources like Google and the Better Business Bureau.
  4. Conduct interviews: Have a conversation to get quotes and detailed scopes of work. A trustworthy professional should be willing to thoroughly assess the project before quoting.
  5. Request testimonials: Don’t hesitate to ask for and follow up on testimonials from previous clients.

When you find the right candidate:

  • Ensure clear expectations: Include a contingency in your agreement that binds them to stick to the agreed-upon plan, timeline, and costs, and require your authorization for any changes.
  • Test before a major commitment: For a significant renovation, consider hiring them for a smaller project first to evaluate their reliability and quality of work.
  • Permit verification: As Veronica suggested in the chat, verify that any necessary permits are pulled and that the work passes inspection before final payment. Note that general contractors typically can pull permits, whereas subcontractors usually cannot.

By meticulously selecting and managing your handy people or contractors, you establish a reliable network that can ensure the longevity and quality of your rental properties, thus contributing to the overall success and growth of your rental business.

Real Estate Attorney

Another crucial member of your team is a real estate attorney and, if you’re focused on legacy planning, an estate attorney. These professionals are often necessary in specific situations, such as:

  • Navigating your first eviction, or if a tenant with legal representation is contesting an eviction.
  • Addressing complexities that may arise if the tenant is also your employee and you’re terminating their employment.
  • Dealing with legal issues if a tenant files for bankruptcy.
  • Ensuring compliance with rent control regulations or housing program rules related to eviction.
  • Facilitating owner financing deals, whether you’re the buyer or the seller.

The legal landscape can be intricate, and having a knowledgeable attorney to navigate these waters is invaluable.

To hire a real estate attorney, you can follow these guidelines:

  • Ask for recommendations: Your network, including family, friends, and landlord groups, can be good sources. Additionally, your local bar association can provide referrals to qualified real estate attorneys.
  • Look for specialized expertise: Ensure the attorney you consider has specific experience relevant to your case. Real estate law can have many facets, so expertise aligned with your situation is crucial.
  • Confirm state licensure: An attorney must be licensed to practice in your state. Validate this through your state’s bar association.
  • Inquire about fees and costs: Understand whether the attorney charges an hourly rate or a flat fee and clarify what you are financially committing to upfront.
  • Prioritize communication: Choose an attorney with whom you can communicate clearly and comfortably. Your lawyer should be someone you can trust to openly discuss your legal needs.

A real estate attorney isn’t just for handling disputes or transactions. They can be instrumental in helping you reach financial goals, grow your portfolio, or navigate the complexities of leaving a legacy. With the right legal guidance, you can create a clear and effective roadmap to achieve your long-term objectives.

Versatile Property Management Professional

That’s a fantastic segue into why a landlord may need a versatile team member with experience in finance or legal matters tailored to real estate. It’s crucial to have someone knowledgeable about the specific financial intricacies of property management.

When looking to hire such a professional, here’s what you should focus on:

  • Experience: How long they’ve worked in their field and, importantly, if they have a history of working with landlords.
  • Client Types: Establish what types of clients they usually handle to ensure their experience is relevant to your needs.
  • Approach: Understand their work style and ensure it complements how you prefer to be involved.
  • Fee Structure: Know how they charge for their services and when payments are due.
  • Licensure: If required for their role, confirm they possess the proper license, this ensures credibility and professionalism.
  • Communication: Discuss how you will exchange information about ongoing work and the preferred methods and schedules for communication.

Technology Solutions

For landlords looking for ways to ease the daily grind without additional hires, technology can be a game-changer. Using property management software like TurboTenant can greatly simplify your workload by automating tasks such as drafting eye-catching listings, estimating appropriate rent prices, managing maintenance requests, and collecting rent online. This technology allows you to maximize your time and grow your portfolio more efficiently.

One particularly helpful tool is the tenant check-in feature. It’s designed to casually nudge renters to report issues, which can be a boon, especially for those who are new to renting and might not be proactive in communicating problems. It’s a feature that encourages healthy communication and assists in keeping your property in top condition.

Good documentation practices are important, especially when facing challenges like evictions. TurboTenant offers a document storage system, and with it, you can organize all your critical papers in one secure location. Moreover, the platform aids in tracking your financials, such as expenses and net operating income, and the best part is many of these features are accessible for free. Take advantage of these resources by either downloading the mobile app or creating an account on the website. For landlords considering an upgrade, TurboTenant’s premium plan offers even more tools to facilitate rental management at a reasonable yearly cost.


Krista Reuther: Absolutely, if there’s time for a process question or two, I’d be more than willing to answer them. If not, or if it warrants a whole new webinar, we’re here to help however we can. Yeah.

Samantha Yadav: About the rent estimate tool—a question came up—it is free. When creating your listing, we’ll prompt you to use it, or you can access it anytime in our toolbox. You’ll get the report in an email, and it will be visible on your screen as well. Oh, and I just saw something nice—TurboTenant has automated many processes for users like rent collection, lease e-signatures, handling maintenance requests, and the tenants find it very easy to navigate. That’s fantastic to hear; thank you, Aisha! And there was a question about how TurboTenant’s expense tracking differs from REI Hub. With TurboTenant, the expense tracking is manually entered by the user as part of the free features. With REI Hub, it’s a paid, more advanced accounting tool that automatically integrates with TurboTenant for things like rental income, can link to your business accounts to capture expenses, and categorizes transactions appropriately. And crucially, REI Hub is designed specifically for landlords and real estate investors.

Krista Reuther: That seems like a perfect closing note. Samantha, you’ve been wonderful, Jonathan has been a great help, and to our audience, thank you for joining us. Wishing everyone a splendid afternoon, and we look forward to seeing you at the next event. Goodbye!

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