You may not think being a landlord qualifies your operation as a business, and in technical terms, it doesn’t, but landlords share much in common with businesses-including being able to benefit from having a dedicated website.
In fact, every landlord should have a website-at least a basic one-to advertise their properties and make property management easier. It’s free to create a website using a website builder like WordPress, so why not consider the benefits?
Benefits of a Landlord Website
How can a website benefit you as a landlord?
- Minimized vacancies. According to Green Residential, one of the most important factors in determining the profitability of your rental property is how often it remains vacant. Whenever your property is unoccupied, you won’t be drawing in income, but you’ll be paying expenses like usual. The faster you fill a vacancy, the more money you’ll stand to make. Having a website means you’ll have an additional outlet to advertise the availability of your property, as well as an additional communication channel for your tenants to warn you of their upcoming departures.
- Free advertising. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is one of the highest-ROI marketing strategies in existence. For you, creating the website and writing the posts on your own, the cost is essentially nothing. Depending on how much effort you invest in creating and promoting new material, you could easily get the value of a paid advertising campaign for almost no cost. For these purposes, you’ll want to include as much rich, flattering imagery of your property as possible.
- Tenant screening. Depending on how you organize your site, you may be able to conduct some tenant screening directly on your website. You may streamline the tenant application process, requesting the same information from each prospective tenant, then run credit reports using a service like Experian. It doesn’t fully automate the tenant screening process, but it does make things easier on you. However, as Nolo points out, be sure to use appropriate language when describing your ideal tenant; if you appear to be discriminatory in any way, you could face legal action for your advertising.
- Terms and restrictions clarification. Most rental agreements cover the same types of information, which is why sites like Rental Lease Agreement offer free templates. However, you probably have some specific requirements that other landlords may not have; for these cases, and for tenants who aren’t familiar with the basic rules and limitations of renting, a website allows you to freely publish these terms and restrictions for constantly available access.
- Maintenance requests. Even with a new property, or one that’s been taken good care of, you’ll probably have to face occasional maintenance requests. Using a website can help you streamline this process, allowing your users to submit and categorize specific requests so you can read and respond to them at your convenience. Obviously, you’ll still need to be available via phone for emergencies, but having the website as a backup can make your life easier and a little less hectic.
- Resources and links. You may also want to provide a resources section for your tenants, include helpful articles with tips on renting and property care, or links to guides on the area, such as neighborhood association. It all depends on the type of property you’re renting, where you’re renting it, and what your tenants need.
- Online rent payment. In some cases, you may be able to set up a payment gateway on your website (though it’s likely to cost you some money). If you do, your tenants may be able to pay you directly through the site, rather than mailing you a check or dropping off the money in person. It’s more convenient and also more trackable.
Steps to Get Started
If you’re not sure where or how to get started, don’t be intimidated-thanks to the sophistication and availability of template-based web builders, it’s easier than ever to start your own website. There are some basic best practices you’ll need to adhere to, but for the most part, these platforms allow you to build your site with a few clicks-and no cost.
Take a look at other landlords’ sites for inspiration, include the content that’s most important to you, and send the link to any current tenants who may find it useful. From there, you can make improvements, start advertising, or wait until you have a new vacancy—it all depends on your personal goals as a landlord.