Rent out your house and go here! (Free camping near the Valley of Fire in Nevada.)
Forget broken toilets. A handyman on speed dial can fix those. I think the most time-consuming part of renting out a property is screening tenants and arranging payment information. I’d wager you landlords out there dread it. If you don’t, your anti-anxiety medication is working!
We mostly invest via index funds, but own one investment property and our personal residence, both of which we rent out. In the recent years, we’ve leased to a half dozen people and it is always a pain in the neck to manage the initial setup.
For short stays, Airbnb works great, but we tend to leave our house for longer periods of time or rent our other investment property for at least a year. There are services for bigger investors (e.g. Appfolio), but they charge $200/month minimum, killing cash flow for single-family properties. Plus, professional online services have 22,231 features like a fancy T.V. remote where all you know is ON/OFF.
Enter Cozy, a Portland startup that changes this. It’s a free service aimed at small investors who don’t use property management companies (which charge ~10% for long-term rentals and half your child’s future income for short-term) and want a streamlined way to manage tenants. Nothing in this for me – I simply like Cozy’s service and think it would benefit small-scale real estate investors.
Why use Cozy? It’s simple, fast, and will save you time and headaches. Here are the basics:
- Set up a simple account at Cozy.co.
- Enter your property into their system, which takes just a few minutes.
- Set up your bank account info so that tenants can send you cash (by the truckload, hopefully).
- Cozy generates a link to a tenant screening application that you can share online, email, or include in any property listing (e.g. Craigslist). Sending PDFs via email and getting incomplete crap back is so 2003 – this is an easy, online method that notifies you when a new application comes in. On the tenant side, it’s simple, and even lets someone import employer info from LinkedIn. (I went through the process so I knew what to expect.)
- A credit check service is provided by Cozy, the cost of which you pass through to the tenant. You can also send them to get a free one at annualcreditreport.com if you don’t need a report with a credit score. You also can require a background check if desired. (In response to Trisha’s comment below – we always require a credit report with a score, and that is my recommendation!)
- Best part? Payment terms and setup are clean. No more giving tenants your address to mail a check, or figuring out monthly deposits bank-to-bank via a voided check. Cozy acts as the intermediary (for free!), and will initiate a withdrawal each month. It also allows you to set up split payment for multiple tenants, including for the security deposit.
That’s it! I would do screenshots, but any middle school kid can text 1,432 times and navigate their system at the same time. You can figure it out. So great to see a startup provide practical and useful functions instead of just another photo sharing app.
For all of you who are self-managing properties, I think this is a great way to streamline things. I am digging it and will not be going back to PDF applications and hacked-together payment setup. Next time you transition tenants, check out Cozy.