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Landlord Tips

Better Alternative to the Zillow Worksheet for Income Expense Tracking

Better alternative to Zillow worksheet
RentalIncomeExpense.com is superior to the Zillow worksheet for landlord income expense tracking.

Zillow provides a worksheet for landlords to track rental income and expense. It is free to download, and that is pretty much the best part of the Zillow worksheet. There is a better alternative to the Zillow worksheet for income expense tracking. By the time landlords sink hours entering their rental property data into the Zillow worksheet, they realize its significant limitations:

  1. Designed for one to five properties. If you start using the Zillow worksheet, you’ll quickly run out of room if you have more than five properties. Or, if you have a roommate situation and want to track rent payment by individual, well, you’re limited again. There is a better alternative to the Zillow worksheet for income expense tracking.
  2. No reports. Want to know the profit and loss for your rental property? You can’t do that with the Zillow worksheet. The Zillow worksheet only totals the income and expenses for all properties and shows that number as a cell. There is no way to see profit and loss activity by month. Additionally, the Zillow worksheet categories do not align with the IRS 1040 Schedule E categories, which means this worksheet cannot easily generate a report for Schedule E.

RentalIncomeExpense.com is the Better Alternative to the Zillow Worksheet

A better alternative is RentalIncomeExpense.com. It is free. It allows landlords to enter income and expense detail that align with Schedule E categories. Reports such as Profit and Loss and Schedule E Helper guide landlords as they grow and prepare for tax time.

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General

Free Landlord Rental Income Expense Tracking

Free Income Expense Tracking
Landlords need an easy to use and understand tool to track income and expenses.

Rental income expense tracking is an essential task for every landlord. Tracking helps landlords determine the health of their business. It also makes tax time easier as the rental property income and expense data is necessary to fulfill IRS requirements. For example, landlords usually need to complete Schedule E of Form 1040 for income tax purposes.

Expensive property management software like Renttec Direct or Buildium is overkill for the small landlord because it generally costs more in time and money than it is worth. On the other hand, a simple Excel spreadsheet is not nearly powerful enough because it cannot easily generate the different reports landlords need.

Easy to use and understand rental income expense tracking for landlords is highly desirable. Qualities of a great tool for landlords also include easy to generate reports like a profit & loss statement and an affordable price tag. Free is almost always the best!

RentalIncomeExpense.com is the best solution for landlords:

  • Simple to setup
  • FREE
  • Designed for landlords
  • Reports that matter (e.g., profit & loss and Schedule E helper)
  • Accessible from your smartphone

To setup a free account, get started at www.RentalIncomeExpense.com today!

Categories
Landlord Taxes Landlord Tips

Landlord Rental Income Expense Tips

Landlord rental income expense tips
Rental income expense tracking can make the tax reporting process easier.

In the US, landlords are obligated to report rental income received from tenants. The IRS’ Schedule E of Form 1040 captures associated income and expenses for each rental property. Most people do not get excited when it comes to preparing taxes. The IRS and many software providers provide landlord rental income expense tips and tools to make the reporting process easier.

The IRS provides guidance for landlords on how they can correctly report income and realize as many deductions as possible. Most taxpayers try to minimize what they owe to the government. Landlords can deduct expenses such as mortgage interest, property tax, and depreciation, which can be hugely beneficial. It is always good practice to seek the professional advice of an accountant with any questions or concerns.

In addition to deducting expenses, other landlord rental income expense tips include easy and complete record keeping. Landlords can use a spreadsheet to record income and expenses, but there are better tools, especially those designed specifically for the small landlord. For example, RentalIncomeExpense.com is a free tool for landlords. With this software, you can easily record expenses and generate valuable reports at tax time.

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General

Small Landlord Accounting Software Needs

small landlord accounting sofware needs
A small landlord has different accounting software needs than the big guys!

The accounting needs of General Motors are not the same as the accounting needs of Joe’s Pizza shop. Similarly, small landlords do not have the same accounting needs as large real estate corporations. What does a small landlord need in their accounting software?

Ease of Use

Large apartment companies generally employ their own accountants. Small landlords must learn a lot of accounting on their own. For many, using accounting software like Quickbooks is time-consuming and not intuitive. Small landlord accounting software that is dead simple to use is a huge timesaver.

Income Expense Tracking

Expensive online software like Appfolio or Buildium often have a myriad of features. However, do small landlords need these features? Generally, small landlords just need basic income (rent) and expense tracking.

Helpful Reports

Once a landlord enters their income and expense information, they really just need a few helpful reports. The first is a profit and loss report so that a landlord can see how they are doing financially. Next, landlords in the United States need a ‘Schedule E’ Helper report which helps them report property income to the IRS.

Low Price

Finally, small landlords often have slim budgets. They do not have hundreds of properties to spread the cost of accounting software across. They may just have one property.

Fortunately, there is online software that is perfect for small landlords and free. For many years, small landlords have used RentalIncomeExpense.com. This free service is easy-to-use, allows income expense tracking, and generates a few super important reports. Try it out at www.RentalIncomeExpense.com!

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General

Rental Property Profit and Loss Statement

Profit and Loss Statement
The P&L shows how well or poorly the business is doing.

The rental property profit and loss statement is a report that summarizes revenues received and expenses incurred. Also known as a P&L or income statement, it shows how well or poorly the business is doing by its net income or loss. The majority of income is reflected by the rent landlords collect from tenants. As for expenses, they can vary and can range from general maintenance such as lawn care to property taxes. With the profit and loss report, landlords can identify areas to reduce expenses or make improvements to strengthen the business.

How do you create a an income statement? The easiest way is with landlord accounting software. There are free templates available, like the Zillow worksheet. Templates and spreadsheets are not the best choice for landlords because they are not powerful enough and can be one dimensional with limited reporting capabilities. Believe it or not, similar to templates, there is free landlord accounting software. For example, RentalIncomeExpense.com is an income and expense tracking tool designed for landlords. It is free and easily generates a rental property profit and loss statement. When using a good tool to generate reports, landlords can quickly determine how their business is doing.

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Landlord Tips

Landlords Letting Tenants Renovate Rental Property

Letting Tenants Renovate
Tenants may want to renovate while renting property.

Over time, any type of property – rental or non rental – will need updating. Building materials will either deteriorate or become outdated. For example, paint peels or fades, carpets stain and wear away, and bathrooms and kitchens become outdated. If the unit is occupied and the tenant wants to make improvements, landlords letting tenants renovate rental property is not a bad idea.

If you’re happy with your tenant, most landlords will not want to displace their tenant in order to renovate. So when a tenant wants to do the renovation, it’s a good idea for landlords to hear them out. For landlords letting tenants renovate rental property, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Agree to the renovations: As the owner of the rental property, you should be in agreement to the requested changes. Should the tenant vacate in the future, you are left with the renovations. Ideally, you will want renovations that increase the value and attractiveness of your rental property.
  2. Decide who will pay for the renovations: There are a few possibilities when it comes to who will pay for the renovations. The tenant can pay for it entirely, the landlord can pay for it entirely, or both can split the cost. Usually, if the improvement will add value, most landlords may cover the cost since they ultimately own the rental property. If the landlord covers the bill, he/she can track renovation-related expenses in their landlord income expense tracking software such as RentalIncomeExpense.com.
  3. Put everything in writing: Landlords letting tenants renovate rental property is a driver for a lease addendum. It is important to address items such as what improvements will be made and who will pay for them clearly and in writing.
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Landlord Tips

Appfolio is Not a Fit For Small Landlords

Appfolio is not a great fit for the small landlord
Appfolio is not a great fit for the small landlord. But there are good options!

Appfolio is a leader in online property management software. Often times, when small landlords search online for property management tools, they encounter links to Appfolio. With some research, however, a landlord quickly learns that Appfolio is not for the small landlord.

Appfolio’s Pricing Is For Large Commercial Multifamily

As of 2021, Appfolio’s pricing page indicates that their pricing is at least $280/mo (the minimum monthly fee). Additionally, Appfolio’s “Plus” package starts at $1500/mo. Appfolio designates that service for customers with thousands of units. Clearly, small landlords need not apply. Small landlords generally do not have thousands of rental units, and many are on tight budgets, making cost a consideration.

There Is Free Online Software For Small Landlords Better Than AppFolio

Never fear! Appfolio is not the only option out there. For small landlords, there is free online property manager software. For example, RentalIncomeExpense.com (sign up at www.RentalIncomeExpense.com) offers free income and expense tracking with automatically generated profit and loss reports. Better yet, this free landlord software is easy to use and learn; there are none of the complicated features that Appfolio has that appeals to large multifamily customers.

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Landlord Tips

How to Screen Tenants for Rental Property

Screen Tenants
Finding the right tenant will give landlords peace of mind.

Landlords should invest the time to learn how to screen tenants. In the long run, finding the right tenant will give landlords peace of mind. The right tenant will ideally pay the rent on time and keep the rental property in good shape. Here are some simple ways to screen tenants:

Screen Tenants for Rental Property with Online Credit/Background Check

In the past, small landlords had a hard time running a fast credit check on a tenant. Today, online tenant screening makes the process very fast and easy. With TransUnion’s SmartMove partnership with ClearNow, landlords can receive a credit check and criminal and eviction report within seconds. Landlords can specify if he/she or the tenant will pay the screening fee, which is typically paid by credit card. Online credit and background checks is an effective way to screen tenants for rental property.

Check References

As part of the application process, landlords may request information from tenants related to income, employment, and past rental history. Landlords should contact the tenant’s previous landlords to confirm their tenancies. In checking references, landlords can get a sense of the tenant’s rent payment activity and overall condition of the rental property upon departure.

Landlords incur a tangible cost when they screen tenants for rental property. They should keep track of the expenses related to screening tenants whether it be telephone, travel, or online screening fees for example. RentalIncomeExpense.com is a free income and expense tracking tool designed for landlords. They can easily record their expenses while finding the right tenant for their rental property.

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Landlord Tips

Landlord Accounting Software

Accounting Software
Landlords have a choice for tracking rental income and expenses.

Tracking income and expenses for rental property is a task most landlords do not enjoy. Without a doubt, record keeping can be time consuming and often mind-numbingly boring. However, maintaining good records makes tax time easier and provides peace of mind. Therefore, it is important to understand how the rental property business is doing, and good landlord accounting software makes this task easy.

There is a lot of choice among landlord accounting software. The primary differences relate to cost, ease of use, and features (like reports). With the aid of the chart below, we take a look at some common ways, from the simplest to the most complicated, for tracking rental property income and expenses.

Tracking MethodPros & Cons
Spreadsheet* Free
* Create your own with Google Docs or Microsoft Excel
* Download free rental income and expense worksheet
*Cannot easily generate reports
Free Accounting Software* Free
* Simple and intuitive
* Easily generate reports like a Schedule E Helper and Profit & Loss statement
* RentalIncomeExpense.com
Paid Accounting Software* Expensive
* Can be overkill for a small landlord
* Complex and challenging to understand
* QuickBooks, Buildium, RentecDirect
Landlord Services * Provides benefits in addition to record keeping such as online rent payments, tenant screening, credit reporting, and vacancy listings
* Many times income and expense tracking is included as a free feature
* ClearNow, Zillow Rental Manager

Final Thoughts

Landlords have choice, and they range from simple spreadsheets to free landlord accounting software to paid accounting software. Find a solutions, as the important task of tracking income and expenses becomes easier with software for landlords!

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General

The Landlord Cell Phone Expense

landlord cell phone expense
Are you expensing your cell phone usage for your rental properties?

Ever since some company named for a fruit unveiled the iPhone, the cell phone has changed from an important part of daily life to an essential part. From texts to emails to even (gasp! old school!) calls, most landlords today manage their rental property using their pint-sized touchscreen sidekick. Because it is so critical, cell phone related costs are a legitimate expense for a landlord.

What Phone Expenses Count For a Landlord?

There are two main components to cell phone expense.

  • The phone itself
  • The cellular plan (talk, text, and data) that allows you to use the phone on the go

Fortunately, both your purchase of a cell phone and the monthly cellular plan are legitimate landlord expenses. If you run your rental property business as a “pass thru” entity that shows up on your personal taxes (as many landlords do), these expenses will show up on the Schedule E of your IRS tax return.

Additionally, if you use just one phone for both business and personal, you’ll want to calculate roughly how much of your use of your smartphone is split between your landlording business and your personal use of the phone and allocate the expense appropriately (example, if 30% of the usage was for property management, expense 30%).

You may want to talk to a CPA about the expense also, as there are some advisors who suggest you can deduct the full cost of your line if you already have another line you use for your personal use.

Where On the Tax Return Does Cell Phone Expenses Appear?

If your rental property activities are as a ‘pass thru entity’ (aka appear on your personal return), then your landlord cell phone expense can appear on the ‘Other’ line of Schedule E.

Does tracking rental property expenses seem daunting? Never fear! Look into a free online tool like RentalIncomeExpense.com. With this software, you can easily record property expenses and generate a Schedule E Helper report at tax time.