Calendar icon December 14, 2023

Property Management Automation: 7 Tasks to Automate in Your Company

Property management automation refers to using technology and software to automate various tasks and optimize processes related to managing properties. It can involve using property management software to streamline tasks such as rent collection, applicant screening, property maintenance requests, and accounting, among others. 

If it sounds great, you’re right! The point is to reduce the amount of time and effort property managers need to spend on manual tasks, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks that add value to their business. According to Pete Neubig, Co-Founder and CEO of VPM Solutions: “You have better communication, and things are getting done more efficiently for your residents, so they're happier. If the resident is happy, they will most likely re-sign the lease, which obviously is a win for the owner. And [it’s a win] for the property management company because now we're making more money because we're…reducing churn and capturing some opportunities to make more revenue.”

At Second Nature, we think of automation and outsourcing as two sides of the same coin. Either way, you're getting your time back. That's why our focus is making life better for residents and easier for property managers. Our suite of resident services helps support a better resident experience, driving up retention and making investors happier, too. And, since we fully manage every part of it, we also make life easier for you, the property manager. That's a "triple win."

With that said, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of property management automation: the seven tasks you can most easily automate and the seven tools to help you get there.


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Which property management tasks should you automate?  

Automation might make us think of manufacturing lines or robots, but in the modern workplace, automation is simply a catch-all term for tech tools that can instantly streamline your work process. Automation tools handle time-consuming, repetitive tasks, speeding up the workflow process, creating fewer mistakes, and freeing us up to do more valuable work. 

Without automation, we find ourselves losing time with busy work like:

  • Manually entering data
  • Writing and sending emails
  • Phone calls and followup
  • Keeping track of to-do lists
  • Fixing mistakes in spreadsheets or other work
  • Reminding team members how to do day-to-day tasks

Think about the last month when you took the same action repeatedly – or saw the same situation and made the same decision – or got the same question and shared the same information. 

If a task is easily duplicated and policy/rule-based, automation is coming for it. Here are a few of the most common areas where PMs are standardizing and applying automation tools.

1. Rent collection

Online rent payments can automate reminders to tenants, reduce errors, and increase on-time payments to collect rent without creating any additional work for the PM. Tools like and EliseAI are innovating this space. Both are chatbot-type tools that help automate things like rent collection by automating communication about delinquency and the followup process. The tools communicate directly with your residents for you with rent payment reminders, support, and more.  

2. Property inspections

Using an automated checklist on a handheld device can help you stay mobile and get inspections done in less time. Automation can instantly generate reports, so you don’t have to worry about returning to the office and entering all that data. Tools like RentCheck and OnSight Pros can either automate or outsource this work for you as a property manager. RentCheck is a software tool that you and your staff can use for photos, checklists, workflows, and more. There's also a native app that residents can use to do inspections themselves. Then, it will compile a clean, easy report that you can sent to your investors.

OnSight Pros isn't exactly an automation, but it has the same impact on your workflow. They have a network of professionals who do property reviews in person for you. They're not available in every market, but you can check their website for available service areas.

3. Maintenance requests

A 24/7 maintenance portal means you don’t have to take calls every time they come in, and you can quickly and easily triage maintenance requests.

Tools like Property Meld help automate work requests, vendor communication, scheduling, and more. Mezo is another newer tool on the market that provides conversational AI to interact with your residents, scope the maintenance issue, support self-service, and help deploy the right professional if needed. With a tool like this, you can eliminate multiple trips out to the property or even have it fixed by the residents themselves.

4. Accounting and bookkeeping

Bookkeeping was one of the first areas of automation when computers entered the scene. It's hard to find a professional property management business that doesn't use property accounting software. Tools like RentVine help automate fees, statements, financial tracking, and more.

Most property management software platforms provide accounting features, and everyone uses them somewhat differently. You can use integrations, layer in vertical tools, and more. However, a lot of the actual accounting can't be truly automated. Instead, you can outsource to companies like Bynnd and Reconcile Daily who will do the accounting work for you.

5. Digitizing paperwork

Property managers are always on the go. Digitizing records and process management is a game-changer.

This one is pretty straightforward. Most property management software works with cloud-based documents and tracking or integrates with services like DocuSign, etc. 

6. Managing new accounts

With integrations, you can add new properties, trigger automatic processes, and reduce vacancies more quickly. For example, after entering a new property in your CRM, automation can launch a new property checklist and notify your whole team. 

For example, you can set up an integration where a new lead comes in as "won" through LeadSimple and Zapier automatically starts a new property checklist in Process Street, populates the data from the sales process, and assigns the checklist to the right person on your team.  All automated. 

7. Communication

Email is the most common form of communication, and yes, it is automation. Some PMs are using even more streamlined workflow communication like Slack, Leadsimple, or HelpScout.

Automation can feel alarming to some at first, but the best property managers are embracing it. They’re quick to do the hard work of developing policies, documenting the process, and then using tools to systemize their expertise and automate the work. The result is more reliable and likely less expensive than people doing it. 

Solutions like LeadSimple provide communication tools across customer types so you can set up automation for clients and residents. 


download rental inspection checklist template


Property management automation tools

After identifying the processes you want to automate, the next step is to adopt the best tools available to property managers. We’re seeing buzz from PMs across the industry using automation tools at every stage of their operations. 

One of the more visible examples out there is Peter Lohmann, CEO of RL Property Management. He has outlined several no-code tools that he uses to automate his property management business. No-code tools are easy for anyone, and most can “talk” to other software through APIs. 

Here are some of the tools we like the best and how Lohmann has used them for his PMC:

1. LeadSimple

LeadSimple is a sales and operations CRM geared towards property and real estate management. You can approve a rental application in the CRM and trigger other automations like emails, checklists, and more. LeadSimple recently added workflow automation and an inbox product that works like a ticketing system.

2. Zapier

Zapier is a workflow automation app that connects all your other apps. For example, when you mark a new property in your CRM, it can “zap” your checklist software to start a “New Property Checklist.”

3. Process Street

Process Street is an automated checklist software that gets your entire team on the same page. You can assign management tasks, mark priorities and completions, schedule, and more. It also has email templates that can be automatically populated from your CRM.

4. Slack

We all know Slack. Slack is the communications app that puts your whole team in one place, sets up groups, streamlines topics, and more. Zapier can automatically send notifications through Slack about new accounts and assignments.

5. Mailchimp

MailChimp automates and sends professional emails. Through integrations, you can connect it with your CRM and other automations, so emails are automatically populated and triggered at the right time. 

6. Airtable

Lohmann explains that he has transitioned all non-financial data from their legacy system into Airtable, where they have control of it and can connect it to other tools. 

7. Buildium

Buildium is a property management software for PMs with 50+ doors in their portfolio. With a monthly fee, you can use Building to set up recurring rent payments with credit cards or ACH and use other property management features.

Benefits of automating property management workflows and processes

Professional property managers don’t just manage property; they manage projects, workflows, and processes. Here are some of the top benefits of implementing automation tools to improve those processes and workflows.

Improved efficiency

Automated property management processes can drastically reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks, allowing your team to focus on more strategic activities. Use rent collection as an example: Instead of manually tracking payments, an automated system can collect payments electronically, keeping records updated in real-time.

Minimized errors

Automated workflows minimize the chance of human error in tasks like accounting, tenant screening, or maintenance scheduling, ensuring accuracy and consistency. For instance, in accounting, automating calculations and data entry can reduce errors that may occur due to manual entry, ensuring the accuracy of financial records.

Increased resident satisfaction

Automation can speed up response times to maintenance requests, rent payment processing, and communication, leading to a better tenant experience. Using maintenance as an example here: Tenants can submit requests online, the system can automatically assign a service provider, and update the tenant with progress in real-time. 

Enhanced communication 

Automated reminders and notifications keep all stakeholders, from tenants to service providers, informed and engaged, improving communication. For example, automated reminders can notify tenants about upcoming lease renewals or rent due dates, ensuring they're well-informed and reducing late payments.


Automated systems allow for easier scaling of operations as your property portfolio grows. It's much simpler to manage increased workloads when processes are automated. As your property portfolio grows, an automated system can easily handle adding new tenants, properties, and corresponding data, without requiring more administrative effort.

Real-time reporting

With automation, real-time reporting becomes possible, providing valuable insights into your business's performance and enabling better decision-making. An automated system can provide real-time occupancy rates, rental arrears, or maintenance costs, enabling you to make data-driven decisions.

Cost savings

By streamlining operations and reducing manual labor, property management automation can lead to significant cost savings in the long run. By automating routine tasks like tenant screening or lease agreement generation, you can save administrative time and associated labor costs.

Regulatory compliance

Automated systems can help ensure compliance with housing laws and regulations, reducing the risk of legal issues. For example, automated system can update you on changes to housing laws and ensure all lease agreements are compliant.


Remember, automation doesn't mean losing the personal touch that sets your business apart. Instead, it's about freeing up time and resources to focus more on those areas that truly require a human touch.

What is an example of an automated property Management system? 

One innovative example of automated property management is right here at Second Nature.

Our service helps manage and automate the resident experience to be the best that it can be. Our Resident Benefits Package allows property managers to deliver premium services – without the hassle of managing the programs in-house.

The RBP offers benefits that residents pay and stay for, like rent reporting, renters insurance, filter delivery, identity protection, resident rewards, and even a move-in concierge. With the RBP, you can essentially automate resident happiness. 

How Second Nature helps with automation 

Automation sets professional property managers apart. As automation is adopted across the industry, professional PMs are more likely to build the right systems and put together the right tools faster than people who aren’t as motivated or skilled.

At Second Nature, we believe in the power of innovation, and we see it every day in property managers around the country. Our tools, like the Resident Benefits Package, aim to bring more ease and automation to your work processes so you can get out there and grow your business. Learn more about our benefits and tools at

Keep learning

How to Optimize Operational Frequency with Processes and Software

Property management software is currently helping property managers establish efficient and reliable processes at a higher rate than ever before in the PM industry. With that development in the proptech industry has come the development of tech for self-managers that has changed the capacity of the accidental landlord. Thus, the demand for efficiency at scale has risen in order to separate the professional from the amateur, and the establishment of processes that allow such a thing has become a critical topic for professional property managers. Optimizing property management processes Carter Fleck of Triton Property Management, a growth-oriented firm out of northern Virginia that is approaching 300 units with larger goals for 2024, joins us to share his expertise on process definition. Fleck is the General Manager responsible for operations and strategic growth, and he has been developing effective processes to ensure efficiency at Scale at Triton, and in the process, he has garnered an understanding of how to do so. “A lot of failing,” says Fleck. “In the early days, we were getting a lot of good and bad feedback, but typically the bad feedback is what you adjust off of.” Fleck believes that assumptions are the enemy when it comes to defining procedures and sourcing software for your PMC. “The image that we use is if you're going to build a sidewalk before people even start walking on a field, it's kind of dumb. You have to see where people will walk first, and then you'll build a gravel path. So number one, you see where they walk, see where their intentions are in the grass, then you build a gravel path. And then eventually, once that walkway is established, that's where you build your processes and procedures.” The analogy is a visualization of the concept that you have to see how people operate before you can establish processes to make how they operate more efficient. Fleck encourages the negative experiences of process breakdown and cites them as the only way to really nail down what your processes should look like. “Over time, between the tenants giving feedback and owners giving feedback, we adjusted our processes. It's a mix between figuring out where the owners walk and where the tenants walk, and then building paths that align.” Fleck details an example of how Triton adjusted its process after an assumption it made got challenged: "We had an assumption that payment plans were helpful for residents," says Fleck. "And so the way we handled delinquency is we would reach out to them and would be like, ‘you need to pay this. Do you have a payment plan option?’ And they would always say yes. Our process was we'll put you on a payment plan, we'll invite you to a payment plan, you'll accept the payment plan, and then we'll monitor the payment plan. That in itself was a lot of work, but we thought it was doing well. But some of the owners that we had managed for mentioned that another property manager doesn't allow any payment plans. And if you're not fully paid up by the end of the month, then the eviction process starts if you’re over $500 due. So we're like 'alright, well, we'll serve you in that we'll change our processes.' And we did, and our delinquency percentage shrunk significantly. So, consistently, by the end of every month, we're around 5% APR. Whereas with payment plans we're like 5 to 10%.” Fleck obviously credits seeing the assumptions in motion as what prompted the need for process iteration, and he firmly believes that making too many of these assumptions is one of the biggest mistakes growing property management companies make. Like any business experiencing growth, process definition is critical to achieve efficiency at larger volumes. What Fleck is essentially advocating for is processes based on what you know, not what you think, and there is a big distinction. Managing property management software Fleck has installed both general and tech-based processes, and cites that understanding of how people interact with processes as the key in both areas. "They don't focus on user experience. That's really important. Number one, how the tenants like the tech, but specifically how the people who are using the tech are gonna adopt it. So when we were choosing a rent inspection software, we had so many people recommend one, software and I, we almost pulled the trigger on it. But then I was like, let's do a trial run on both these two. And we chose the other one because it was way better user experience for property managers. So user experience, both for us and for residents." Tech is a tool that is ultimately as good as its users, and if it's not used correctly or at all, its potential is wasted. An over-reliance on technology can actually go hand-in-hand with an under-reliance, as both often spring up from a lack of understanding of how to choose, implement, and manage it. In this vein, Fleck can't recall many property managers who operate with too much tech. As long as you're not purchasing redundant software and you've done and continue to do your due diligence, tech-based process can make your business more efficient. "I more often find myself having that conversation," says Fleck. "When I'm talking to property managers in my sub-market, who aren't connected with like a NARPM, who aren't connected with like a Crane group, or who aren't connected with a Second Nature, aren't connected to the tune of what the property management industry is doing and the cutting edge of it, I'm just like, 'you could save so much of your time and you could scale this so much more if you only even if you just had tenant Turner, or if you had LeadSimple.'" No matter what your story is a property manager, if growth is in the cards, so is process and technology refinement. Hopefully, Fleck's experience in these areas can help you stay efficient and organized as door counts grow.

Calendar icon April 19, 2024

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Why offer a tenant benefits package?

In the residential real estate sector, like everywhere else, residents and property investors alike are getting younger – and with this generational shift comes expectations for a certain level of convenience and support. To put it bluntly, today’s residents want their needs proactively anticipated. It’s something they're willing to pay (and stay) for. That’s where a tenant benefits package comes in. In this article, we’ll explore what a tenant benefit package is, how it improves the experience for both property managers and tenants, and crucial mistakes to avoid. Before we get into the details, we want to give a shoutout to our very own “Resident Benefits Package” – which is how we refer to the benefits comprised in the “tenant benefits package.” “Tenant” is not yet a legacy term, but we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve it. That’s because, in our experience, property managers work hard to make renters feel like they’re not just parties to a contract – they’re residents. On one hand, this is just humans being humans, but on the other hand, it also encourages them to invest in care for their new home and add value to the property. Ready to get started now? Build your Resident Benefits Package today. What is a tenant benefits package? A tenant benefits package is typically a bundle of services, conveniences, and provisions offered by a property manager on top of the basic lease agreement. They represent a triple-win situation for property managers, residents, and property owners, as they enhance the overall rental experience, generate additional income, and protect the real estate investment. It might include conveniences such as online monthly rent payment options, or portals for submitting maintenance requests and tracking their status. It could also include various financial perks, such as credit rating improvements that are contingent on on-time rental payments, or discounts on nearby services such as fitness centers. It might also include amenities ranging from move-in concierge or utility set-up services, to identity protection services, to HVAC filter delivery. The cost for resident benefits packages is typically included in the lease and added as a monthly fee, with the fee being dependent on the specific benefits. Indeed, the benefits contained in a tenant benefits package will vary depending on the property manager and the type of rental property. The overall goal is to provide tenants with an enhanced quality of life while simplifying the experience of renting. At Second Nature, we pioneered the only fully managed resident benefits package, in response to PMs who wanted to make their business stand out. Our RBP includes an array of services and supports for residents, from filter delivery to credit building to maintenance. Why should property managers offer a tenant benefits package? Beyond the triple-win considerations mentioned just above, there are compelling and concrete reasons why property managers should offer tenant benefit packages. We'll turn to these now. Ancillary revenue Some tenant benefit packages include optional services or add-ons that can generate additional revenue streams for the property manager. This might include things like renter insurance or HVAC filter delivery. Resident experience Tenant benefit packages deliver numerous savings and value to tenants, beyond the value they would get if they were obtaining the same benefits "à la carte." Additionally, by offering additional services and conveniences, benefit packages can make tenants feel valued and more satisfied with their living experience. For instance, maintenance hotline requests, tenant portals, and air filter replacements all make life easier. Add-on services like identity theft protection can offer a sense of security. And discounted renters insurance coverage, utility concierge services, or other perks can save tenants money. Decrease tenant turnover and vacancy rates In a competitive rental market, tenant benefit packages can be a major differentiator toward boosting retention rates and reducing vacancy rates. Properties that offer these packages can also attract a wider pool of qualified tenants, and potentially command higher rents. Note that certain benefits in the package, like online rent payments and maintenance requests, can automate tasks and free up the property manager's time. This allows them to focus on more value-added initiatives. How does the tenant benefits package improve the tenant experience? Tenant benefit packages can significantly improve tenant satisfaction in several ways, by making life easier, more convenient, and potentially more affordable. For instance, if an online portal (a baseline feature for most property management software) is included for rent payments and maintenance issues and requests, this eliminates the hassle of writing checks or waiting on hold to speak with someone about a clogged drain. In other words, tenants have the peace of mind of knowing they can manage their tenancy 24/7 from the comfort of their own devices. Some packages might include features like filter delivery services or regularly scheduled HVAC maintenance. This frees tenants from having to remember these tasks – and ensures their apartment is well-maintained. Certain packages might also offer "verified vendor" services – in other words, a vetted vendor network that can help provide a more secure feeling to residents when service providers are on-site. On the financial side of things, a benefits package might offer discounts with local suppliers for various goods and services, or on a renters insurance policy obtained through the property manager (with applicable waivers for residents who have their own insurance). This can save tenants money on a necessary expense. Some packages also help residents with their credit scores via credit reporting and credit building services, so they can transition from renting to home buying when the time is right. The idea is that the credit reporting program reports on-time rent payments automatically to all credit bureaus, helping residents build their credit simply by paying their rent on time. Some benefit packages include resident rewards programs that represent a powerful and positive incentive for on-time rent payments, including gift cards or cash. As far as living perks go, packages sometimes include added benefits such as access to fitness centers or community events. This provides tenants with additional spaces to relax, socialize, or stay healthy. Packages can include security deposit alternatives that serve to provide a means for residents to be financially liable for damages without having to pay a significant lump sum upfront, such as pure insurance, surety bonds, and ACH authorization programs. Ultimately, tenant benefit packages create a more professional and responsive image for the property management company, which helps tenants feel valued and allows them to experience a smoother, more stress-free rental experience. What are the mistakes to avoid when offering tenant benefits packages? Property management companies should take care to avoid certain pitfalls when implementing tenant benefit packages to ensure they are providing true value to tenants as well as delivering profitability to the PM company itself. For instance, it's important to ensure that the services you're offering are actually relevant to your target renters. For example, young professionals might appreciate discounts on gym memberships, while families might prefer pet-sitting services. You should also take care to clearly communicate what's included and not included in the package to new residents. Don't oversell the benefits – focus on how they genuinely improve the living experience. It's also very important to set realistic expectations for response times on standard maintenance requests, emergency maintenance requests, or virtual concierge services. Likewise, be clear on all available payment methods, as well as rent due dates, late fee structures, and any associated payment processing fees. If your package includes services from third-party vendors, ensure that these vendors are reputable and reliable. Research their customer service record and responsiveness to ensure a smooth partnership and a positive experience for tenants. Above all, regularly monitor the usage of different benefits within your benefits package. This can help you refine your offerings and ensure you're not spending where spending is not required. Looking for a Resident Benefits Package? If you’re looking for a “plug and play” resident benefits package, Second Nature’s RBP is the way to go. Designed to be easy to implement and simple to use, all the services it includes are managed by Second Nature – which means there’s no day-to-day upkeep required from the property manager: Second Nature keeps it running. It’s a simple way to grow your business and create great experiences that residents will pay and stay for. Learn more about our fully-managed Resident Benefits Package.

Calendar icon April 2, 2024

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