The property management industry in America generates roughly $88.4 billion in revenue annually. With that much money circulating from real estate rentals, it’s no wonder many software companies have emerged to help investors, landlords, and property managers stay organized, not only for daily tenant communication and management but also to be ready for tax time.
Good property management software can help you attract, screen, and manage tenants, respond to their maintenance requests, and account for all of the expenses and revenue that entails.
We reviewed 15 property management software companies to find the ones that will serve you best based on your portfolio size, building and tenant type, and budget. But understanding why we chose each of these as the best is as important as knowing who is best. Read on to see what each company’s strengths and weaknesses are so you can be sure to find your best match.
The 7 Best Rental Property Management Software of 2021
Best Overall : Buildium
Built by property managers for property managers, Buildium’s comprehensive service allows property owners to control every aspect of their business remotely, making it the best overall choice for both residential and association property managers.
Built by property managers for property managers
Automatic rent collection through a tenant portal
Online ticket support during business hours
A lot of training materials offered
Expensive pricing plans
Some customer support complaints
Not a fit for single property managers
Buildium, our overall best, is a comprehensive software that allows rental managers to control everything from online rent payments, vacancy management, maintenance cycles, and accounting. Through accounting, business operations, leasing, and community association management features, Buildium streamlines the whole property management process. It facilitates the lead-to-rent collection cycle through tenant and lease tracking, automated rent and fee reminders, complete general ledger accounting, and on-demand reports. Among its features, Buildium also has a specialized tenant portal that allows property managers to receive online payments automatically.
While there is no free version, they offer a free 15-day trial. Pricing is based on the number of units you manage and starts at $50 per month for up to 150 units. The more units you have, the lower the cost per unit with a maximum number of 5,000 units at a cost of $1,080 per month (additional units require specialized plans). Buildium also has a 10% discount for anyone that signs up for annual billing.
As it streamlines the whole process, Buildium is fairly simple to use, although basic users may not be able to maximize all of its features. To help users find their way through it easier, Buildium has a ticket-based customer support system, although there were some complaints about the slow responses clients received from it.
To support its features, Buildium integrates with several outside software platforms, including Apartment List, Apartments.com, Forte, HappyCo, HotPads, Lovely, TransUnion, RevSpring, MSI, Nelco, Tenant Turner, Happy Inspector, PayNearMe, Trulia, Zillow, and Zumper.
The idea began between 2002 and 2003 when Michael Monteiro & Dimitris Georgakopoulos started their rental property business and realized they needed software that will help them manage their properties easier. In 2004 they founded Buildium, which quickly grew to 10,000 customers by 2014, receiving many awards and recognitions to date from G2, SoftwareAdvice, and Capterra.
Best Free Option : TurboTenant
TurboTenant’s pricing model puts all of its costs on the tenants, making it the best free option for landlords.
Free regardless of the number of units managed
Great for DIY landlords
24/7 customer support through phone and online
Tenants have to pay for it
Limited advanced features
A lot of rental property management software platforms have free trial options, but often for only a limited number of units or a limited period of time. This is not the case with TurboTenant, which will remain 100% free no matter the number of units you manage. While many free rental property management software platforms leave a lot to be desired, TurboTenant is pretty straightforward to use with a simple interface and setup.
While TurboTenant is free for landlords, tenants pay a fee of $35 to $45 for application and screening, a credit card rent payment fee of 3.49%, and an optional renters insurance monthly fee starting as low as $8. Landlords can purchase a few optional services for a one-time fee, such as state-specific lease agreements for $29, an unlimited number of electronic signatures for $9, 45 common landlord forms for $100, and a rent estimate report that compares similar local properties for $15.
TurboTenant has several features designed to facilitate tenant management for landlords, including managing applications and screening tenants online, creating dedicated listing pages, and sending bulk tenant messages from one inbox. By integrating with Craigslist, Facebook, Realtor.com, Rent.com, Apartments.com, and other rental listing sites, landlords can advertise a vacant property with a single click across multiple platforms.
You can then screen tenants through TransUnion, send and sign all documents online via the platform, and send payment and maintenance requests online. Payments are made through ACH with no fees or by credit card for a 3.49% charge.
Although it’s a free, cloud-based platform, it has been featured and praised by Reuters, USA Today, and Forbes. Considering there are over 350,000 landlords using their software, the reliability and support provided by TurboTenant’s online tools have been proven and endorsed since their founding in 2015.
The company’s strong reputation has earned them three rounds of venture capital investment from four different firms, totaling $10 million.
Best for Advanced Features : AppFolio
AppFolio, popular among landlords with large rental portfolios, offers the best advanced features to control your units remotely, and additional support and resources to grow your business and maximize its efficiency.
Pay only for the features you need and use
Supports all types of units
Has a mobile app
Has a minimum monthly fee
Not fit for a small number of properties
Besides supporting all types of units, AppFolio has developed à la carte features a landlord would need to operate and grow their business remotely, earning our top vote for best for advanced features.
Because it doesn’t have tiered pricing, but rather an onboarding fee and then a monthly fee based on the number of units, AppFolio is best for those that have multiple properties. Although each advanced feature is pay-as-you-go, there is a minimum monthly fee of $280, which means smaller property managers would have to pay a higher cost per unit if they manage fewer than 166 commercial units or 200 residential rentals.
To set up an AppFolio account, you would need to pay a at minimum $400 onboarding fee, after which the cost of each property is as follows:
- Residential: $1.40 per unit monthly
- Commercial: $1.50 per unit monthly
- HOAs: $0.80 per unit monthly
- Student Housing: $1.40 per unit monthly
AppFolio supports multiple property types, including residential properties, commercial buildings, student housing, and community associations. Each of the features is designed for the specific property type you’re using, so AppFolio has everything a landlord would need—accounting software, rent collection features, maintenance requests, marketing tools for multiple platforms, utility billing, and customizable online leases.
Optional advanced features include a leasing assistant powered by artificial intelligence, professional websites for your properties, premium leads, tenant screening, insurance for landlords and renters, online payments, maintenance contact center, utility management, automated accounts payable, and tenant debt collections.
Founded in 2006, AppFolio has over a decade of experience in providing property management services to clients. Their property management software was the first product they developed, so it’s what they take the most pride in and continuously develop. With over $140 million in revenue in 2017 and an additional $60 million of investment in 2019, AppFolio is confirmed to keep developing and growing in the future.
Best for Single Family Homes : Propertyware
Designed with single family home landlords in mind, Propertyware has earned its place as our best rental property management software for single family homes.
Mange over 250 properties through it
Has a mobile app
Multiple pricing tiers
Some customer support complaints
Fit only for large portfolios
Focused on single family home property management, Propertyware is fairly simple to use, without complicated features commercial management software can have, making it the best choice for single family home management, whether you have few or many. You’ll benefit from Propertyware’s management features whether you are starting out with your first few single family homes or growing into a portfolio of more than 250 of them. It has everything a landlord needs including online rent collection, accounting, maintenance requests, vacant property marketing with leasing agents, marketing with listing syndication, tenant screening services, lead tracking and follow-up, and a portal for vendors.
Propertyware currently has three pricing tiers: Basic, Plus, and Premium, with costs starting at $1 per unit, 1.50 per unit, and $2 per unit, respectively. With the Basic plan, you can run reports; advertise your vacancies; manage the properties with owner and tenant portals; and streamline maintenance work orders, accounting, tenant screening, and rent payments. The Plus plan adds conveniences like two-way text messaging, eSignatures, and inspections. At the Premium level, you can manage your maintenance projects and add portals for your vendors. Each respective tier has a minimum monthly fee of $250, $350, and $450, so to optimize your unit costs, this program is best for managers of at least 250 homes.
Integrations for efficiency include Mail Merge and DocuSign, but aside from those, Propertyware has chosen an in-house approach for marketing, lead generation, and tenant screening rather than integrate with third-party software.
Propertyware is owned by RealPage, a Texas-born company founded in 1998 that currently serves more than 12,000 clients from North America, Europe, and Asia. All members of Propertyware's management team have over 20 years of experience working in real estate, which means users get software designed by people who understand the industry and how it works.
Best for Few Properties : SimplifyEm
Designed by real estate professionals, SimplifyEm offers the ideal balance of price and features, making it the perfect choice for landlords that need help managing a few properties and don’t want to pay the high cost of other software plans.
Supports one to 2,000 units
Designed by real estate professionals
Has advanced features
High fees for online rent payments
If you have more than 2,000 units, the platform can’t grow with your portfolio
While SimplifyEm supports any number of units from one to 2,000, it’s the best fit for a few properties, because you can keep your costs as low as $20 per month if you’re starting out with fewer than 10 properties.
The price starts at $25 per month for 10 units and increases by $10 for every 10 units after that. At 50 units it is $60, increasing to $75 for 75 units and 100 for $100 units. You can create a free 15-day trial account without needing to enter a credit card. It does not require a dedicated professional to manage this platform. Independent property owners should find this accessible regardless of their experience.
All packages include email and phone support, income and expense tracking, tenant and lease management reporting, and renters insurance.
SimplifyEm is designed to give a simple and easy way for landlords to manage their properties while also saving time and money. It allows users to track income and expenses, collect rent and tenant applications online, screen tenants, generate and analyze owner reports, track maintenance requests, store documents, and automate repetitive tasks. You can get started immediately because it is cloud-based.
SimplifyEm integrates with some of the leading names in the finance and real estate industry, including Zillow, Trulia, NARPM, ACH.com, Fidelity, TransUnion, and more.
Founded in 2006, SimplifyEm has a goal of utilizing the latest in user experience and web technology to develop a software solution that meets the needs of busy real estate professionals. With almost 15 years of experience and clients across the U.S. and Canada, SimplifyEm has been used to manage over $42 billion in property assets and has been verified by Authorize.net and GeoTrust, with high ratings from Software Advice and Capterra.
Best for Commercial Property : MRI Software
MRI Software wins our top recommendation for managing commercial properties like apartment communities with features not found in competitors’ programs like investment management, strategic planning & analysis, lease abstraction, space management, and affordable and public housing compliance.
Multiple advanced features included
Reliable company with a long history
Easy to use
Works for residential properties, but not a good fit
Some slow customer support complaints
Can get expensive if you have multiple users, and you need to contact the company to get a price quote
Commercial properties come with greater financial complexities, and the investors who own them have different information requirements of their properties, such as investment management reports and strategic planning and analysis. MRI Software was designed to meet these needs from the start and therefore wins our vote as the best rental property management software for commercial properties.
MRI Software supports both commercial and residential properties, but because of the design of its features, it’s better suited for the commercial sector. A residential landlord would simply leave too many features paid for but unused. It’s best suited for managing more than 50 commercial units and can be installed or purchased as Software as a Service (SaaS).
As it has a wide array of services for different types of clients, MRI Software doesn’t have specific pricing tiers, but rather it tailors the price for every client’s needs. This means that users can choose what to include in their package and whether they need some or all services, such as online rent collection, lease templates, integrated accounting, maintenance requests, tenant screening insurances, multifamily insurance, resident communication, investor relations, rent and vacancy tracking, manager compliance, and credit risk management.
There is no free trial, and to get a quote you must get on the phone with them so they can interview you to uncover exactly how you want to use the software. While this is an extensive process, quite different from competitors who simply publish their pricing online, there are many reviews from commercial property managers and owners on Getapp.com, Software Advice, and Software Suggest that have rated MRI as a good value for the price they were privately quoted.
Founded in 1971 and based in Cleveland, Ohio, MRI Software started by providing property management services and has expanded to cloud-based software and an app. They’ve had over 17,000 clients from over 170 countries and more than 140 partners supporting them, a testament to the reliability and quality they provide.
Best Cloud-Based Software : Yardi Breeze
As a pioneer in providing cloud-based rental property management software services, Yardi Breeze has stood above other cloud-based software platforms due to the additional features it comes with.
Free training and customer support
No minimum or maximum units required
There is no mobile app
Fit only for small to mid-size landlords
Some customer service complaints
If you want to have access to advanced features that facilitate the usage of your cloud-based property management software, Yardi Breeze is the right choice for you.
There are no setup fees with Yardi Breeze, and every unit you add costs $1 per month, so it’s a pretty affordable property management software for all the features it comes with. While there isn’t a minimum or a maximum number of units it supports, you have to spend $100 per month at a minimum if you have residential properties and $200 for commercial properties with the basic package. There are also upgrades called Breeze Premier that cost $2 per unit per month with a $400 minimum.
The features include built-in accounting software, online rent collection, rental applications, templates and addendums, maintenance requests, automated marketing, activity calendars with tasks, renters insurance, tenant communication options, workflow sheets, and outsource payments. All these allow users to manage their properties, tenants, and finances with a few online clicks. But what separates Yardi Breeze is the unique feature that allows tenants to take photos with a smart device and directly attach them to a maintenance request on an online platform.
The system is pretty simple to understand, according to previous clients, but even for those that have problems setting it up, Yardi Breeze offers free training and customer support to set up your account in the first 30 days of purchase.
Yardi Breeze opened in 1984 to provide small and mid-size landlords a solution to streamline their processes.
Rental property management software is a cloud service in most cases that allows landlords of small or large portfolios to manage their processes from lead generation to occupancy, payment, maintenance, insurance, and financial accounting and reporting. The many software platforms tend to specialize in certain niche situations, such as small portfolios of single family homes, to large mixed commercial portfolios.
It’s important to investigate the features for not only what your portfolio looks like today, but what you expect it to evolve into in the future. Will the platform you choose be able to grow with you, and if so, is it affordable while you’re still in the small portfolio phase? These are the questions we’ve tried to clear up for you in our analysis. Buildium ranked best overall because its features are robust, its platform can scale with your portfolio’s growth, and at just $50 per month to manage up to 150 units, it’s a low-cost solution when you are starting out.
Compare Best Rental Property Management Software
|Best Rental Property Management Software|
|Software Company||Why We Picked It||Monthly Minimum Cost|
|TurboTenant||Best Free Option||$0|
|AppFolio||Best for Advanced Features||$280|
|Propertyware||Best for Single Family Homes||$250 to $450|
|SimplifyEm||Best for Few Properties||$25|
|MRI Software||Best for Commercial Properties||Must call for quote|
|Yardi Breeze||Best Cloud-Based Software||$100 to $400|
What Is Rental Property Management Software?
Rental property management software is a suite of tools to help landlords attract leads to fill vacancies, screen tenants, and manage leases. There are typically communication features so that managers and tenants can discuss maintenance requests or send global announcements such as when snow removal is scheduled. Last but not least, rental property management software has an accounting component to it as well. You’ll be able to receive and record payments and generate reports for income, expenses, cashflow, and other strategic and financial planning interests.
Who Should Use Rental Property Management Software?
Beginning investors with small rental portfolios (fewer than 10 units) and large commercial property management firms can use rental property management software. Different companies create software with specialized features that work best for certain categories of landlords, property types, and portfolio sizes. These programs can be useful to a DIY investor, as well as to a team of users made up of owner, property manager, facility maintenance, and leasing agent, to name a few.
How Much Does Rental Property Management Software Cost?
Most property management software programs charge between $1 and $2 per unit under management. It’s important to note when you’re shopping for a program, most providers will charge you a monthly minimum fee, usually in the $200 to $250 range, even if you don’t have enough properties to warrant that high of a fee. Most programs charge the landlord team, but TurboTenant is a notable exception, pushing its costs onto the tenants. With TurboTenant, and almost all other property management software companies, there are also optional features for both the landlord and the tenant to pay for and use.
How We Chose the Best Rental Property Management Software
We reviewed 15 rental property management software companies to decide on the seven best for these common categories. Lower costs and minimum fee requirements fared better than more expensive programs. We also preferred programs that earned high ratings and testimonials for their ease of use and setup. The software we recommended needed to have a good reputation for responsive customer service, integrations to expand and streamline the rental management process, and a comprehensive offering of features to accommodate efficient and affordable property management.