Can Better Digital Bookkeeping Make For Happier Landlords?

apartment for rent sign

Friction bedevils pretty much everything in commerce and payments, and that holds especially true for the management of rental property. Not only are there many moving parts and a variety of participants involved — landlords, tenants, property managers, financial institutions, service providers such as plumbers and electricians — but the industry, as a whole, is still very much anchored to paper checks and other business processes born in the world of analog, not digital.

But things are changing, slowly but somewhat steadily. In a new PYMNTS interview, Karen Webster talks with Peter Koch, CEO of ManageCasa, a property management software provider that focuses on DIY landlord and property management, about bringing more digital bookkeeping to the space. The interview took place amid increasing competition among payment service and other companies to inject more digital efficiency into rental real estate and the maintenance of relationships between tenants, landlords and others.

Crowded Field

That is making it harder for ManageCasa and other companies to stand out and make names for themselves as this particular field becomes more crowded. But as Koch told Webster, the company sees itself as not only offering a capability to tie together all those different participants — but doing so via its double-entry bookkeeping tools and payment reconciliation. “We can accommodate a lot of different users,” he said. In short, the idea is to manage the flow of funds among those various parties, and in ways that can reduce hassles and friction for those property owners and landlords, and automate many of the tasks for which they are responsible.

To better achieve that goal, ManageCasa has recently announced that it is working with online payment services provider Stripe on a new payment services tool for the property management industry. As part of that payments launch, ManageCasa also is updating and improving the automated payments functions of its property management offering. The general idea — both via these updates and by broader design — is to allow for what the company calls more granular user roles and permission via the software. That means enabling property managers to better assign and track tasks done by such people as maintenance supervisors and accountants.

Complex Ecosystem

“Payment is one thing,” Koch said — and moving to digital payments requires getting past landlord resistance to paying credit card interchange fees, a big hurdle. “But anyone who has managed more than one property at some point has to reconcile income and expenses, and that requires a bookkeeping system — a full double-entry bookkeeping system built for property managers that allows them to charge someone through the system. The transactions automatically reconcile.”

Indeed, property management and rental properties represent a vast and complex ecosystem, one that requires multiple checks and balances, and work and payment flows. None of that work is exactly easy, especially for DIY property managers and landlords, but big benefits could result for a company that can get it right and which can also scale. Indeed, ManageCasa has about 2,000 property managers using its system, and the company continues to work to increase its global footprint. “We are using Stripe to build our payment infrastructure in other countries,” he said, adding that getting rid of paper is very attractive for rental markets around the world. “Payment is an issue everywhere.”

The company finds it clients through its own sales and marketing efforts, and by landlords finding out about ManageCasa online. In theory, property managers looking for those efficiencies can sell their landlords on using such a service, too. As Koch told Webster, the reconciliation part of the company’s value proposition stands as the big selling point for the platform. “Globally, we are in a transition to more automated and integrated property management experiences,” Koch said.

The big idea in this space is taking what he called a holistic approach to property management via digital technology — an approach that can bring together via single, integrated platform all those moving parts and those many participants. As the 2020s approach, there will be more such efforts in the global rental space, even if it can sometimes take a bit of work to move landlords away from paper checks and processes.