Real Estate

Tenant Experience Apps: Who They’re For And What They Do

Property managers say they want to add new tenant features to their web portals and mobile apps. These services want their business.

The home market in recent years has seen a rise of new tech companies that aim to make selling and buying homes as easy as pressing a few buttons in an app.

While these transaction options have yet to make up a significant share of total home sales, the move toward tech-assisted convenience has been adopted by major brokerages like Redfin and big-dollar startups like Opendoor.

Increased tech-assisted convenience has also become a priority for landlords who hope to reduce turnover and offer a resident experience that scores better property reviews from tenants, according to a report by residential app provider Zego.

These priorities have also fueled the creation of a number of new mobile apps for landlords and property managers. The apps are designed to help tenants make rent payments, request maintenance, communicate with office staff and perform other tasks that would normally take place over the phone or through a web browser.

“While residents once prized amenities, now they heavily value convenience, connections within the community, and meaningful living experiences,” Zego’s report states.

In an April 2021 survey conducted for the report by Strategy Analytics, a large share of property managers and ownership said they were considering adding new functionality to their web portals — whether browser- or app-based — in the coming months.

Some of the most common online features landlords said they were planning to add included event calendars, viewable rent balances, amenity reservations and lease renewals.

Here’s a brief introduction to resident experience mobile apps, and how they are growing to handle more complicated tasks for landlords.

What’s a resident experience app?

Resident experience apps typically offer, as a baseline, rent payment and maintenance request tools on an app that can be downloaded directly to a resident’s phone or tablet device.

From there, residents can be notified when rent is due or when they have another message from the property.

But in recent years these services have expanded to offer a wider array of features, from tracking packages to booking a property’s gym or pool.

Similar to tenant experience apps at office buildings and other commercial properties, these apps for residential communities also sometimes offer message boards, event calendars or coordination with nearby vendors that cater to apartment dwellers, such as laundry or pet services.

Why use one — or not?

Most of these apps are explicitly aimed at apartment community landlords and property managers looking to automate certain tasks and offer convenient options for tenants.

For smaller-scale investors, be sure to review whether the services can be made consistent with your systems and needs, and whether the cost associated with the app fits with your budget for the property.

Costs for these apps are sometimes structured based on a minimum monthly fee plus an additional charge per unit, or per dollar of rent.

In some cases, there may be browser-based software alternatives that cater more to the needs of single-family property investors, such as Yardi, PropertyBoss or Rentables. These services, however, may not offer a mobile app, and come with different features.

An array of apps

To help sift through the options, Inman has compiled a list of services for property managers that include mobile apps available to residents.

This list of apps is not comprehensive. Apps that served only commercial properties, rather than residential ones, were excluded.

They are ordered by the approximate number of times each app has been downloaded on the Google Play app market. (Apple’s store does not make their download numbers public.)

Rentcafe Resident

  • Description: One of the largest app services for rental properties, Rentcafe manages rent payments, hosts maintenance requests, helps book community amenities and tracks packages. It also offers lease renewal options directly from the app.
  • Property types: residential
  • Android downloads: 500,000+

Resident Portal Mobile

  • Description: Another large provider, this service includes web browser and mobile app options for paying rent, submitting maintenance requests, tracking packages and various other services. It is integrated with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.
  • Property types: residential
  • Android downloads: 500,000+

BuildingLink Resident App

  • Description: This company’s resident app offers services including rent payment, maintenance requests, package tracking, visitor entry, amenity reservations, valet requests and other functions.
  • Property types: commercial and residential
  • Android downloads: 100,000+

Zego Resident

  • Description: In addition to rent payment and maintenance requests, Zego includes automation of certain tasks and communication steps that would normally fall to a property’s staff. The firm also offers data analytics products associated with their client’s properties.
  • Property types: residential
  • Android downloads: 50,000+

Bixby Hospitality

  • Description: This app facilitates rent payments, maintenance requests, package deliveries, and a variety of on-demand services from local providers such as dry cleaning, housekeeping and in-home medical care. The software is customizable, so it can be adjusted to fit the needs of property owners.
  • Property types: residential
  • Android downloads: 10,000+

Bozzuto Resident Experience

  • Description: This real estate company has a property management division with an app that organizes rent payments, maintenance requests, package tracking, amenities and events for apartment-dwellers.
  • Property types: residential
  • Android downloads: 5,000+

Rise Living

  • Description: This app focuses primarily on non-rent services and amenities for various types of buildings. Services include mobile-key building access, service requests, and management of visitors, packages and parking.
  • Property types: commercial and residential
  • Android downloads: 5,000+

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