In 2018, Zillow Rental Manager was introduced. The simple platform seeks to provide an alternative to expensive software companies. But how does it stack up? Read on to learn more.
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What Is Zillow Rental Manager?
Zillow Rental Manager is an online platform that simplifies the entire rental process: Rental application, tenant screening, leasing contracts, and rental payments for both landlords and tenants.
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In a nutshell, Zillow runs the largest real estate listing market, so it created a low-cost way to list directly on its network. Using the simple tool, landlords can advertise their listing, screen tenants, and generate leases.
When a rental property is listed on Zillow Rental Manager, the listing is automatically syndicated and posted to Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads, too. This ensures more people get a chance to look at your property and submit an application.
Instead of paying to do background checks and credit reports for each applicant you’re considering, Zillow Rental Manager allows you to accept and view applications for free and passes the cost of the tenant screening reports to the prospective tenant.
This platform partners with Experian and Checkr to ensure the screening reports you collect for each tenant are accurate and complete.
In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at Zillow Rental Manager to see how property managers and landlords can use it to simplify and improve residential rental management.
Zillow Rental Manager’s Best Features
There are quite a few features and benefits to using Zillow Rental Manager, as well as a few drawbacks to consider. Let’s look at each feature and how you can use it to make renting and leasing easier.
List Rental Properties
Your rental listing doesn’t just get posted on Zillow for prospective renters to see. It will also be shown on Trulia and HotPads to assure the most possible interest in your property in the shortest amount of time.
When you list your rental property on Zillow, you’ll be able to post photos, an in-depth description of the property, requirements for renters, and all the details about the property that prospective renters will want to know.
Zillow has special tools that will allow you to filter and view some of the top prospective tenants and send them an invitation to apply.
Accept Renter Applications for Free
As a property manager or landlord, you won’t have to pay to accept and view rental applications on Zillow Rental Manager.
After posting your rental listing, you can enable applications for the property, which shows the “Apply Now” button on your listing.
Sometimes, you may not be ready to start accepting all applications for a property. If you’re renovating, if it isn’t vacant yet, etc. These situations call for the ability to easily enable/disable applications.
And Zillow lets you do just that. During this time, you can still invite specific renters to apply.
What Zillow Rental Applications Contain
- Personal contact details: Name, phone number, email address, emergency contact
- 3-year residence history: Past homes, rented or owned, monthly payment, landlord contact information
- Household information: Pets, number of people, move-in date
- Income details: Employment, income amount, income history for 3 years
- Additional information: Bankruptcy, smoking, evictions, etc.
All Zillow rental applications are portable. This means once a prospective tenant pays to file their application with you, they can send applications to any other participating landlord within the next 30 days using the same background and credit check from the first application.
Fast, Reliable Tenant Screening
Screening tenants used to be time-consuming and expensive. With Zillow Rental Manager, you can quickly issue background checks, eviction history checks, and credit checks online within minutes.
In some cases, manual review is required, which can take up to 24 hours. Your applicant pays a small fee for these reports and checks (see the Pricing section below for more information).
You will not have to pay for any rental applicant screening through Zillow Rental Manager. These in-depth screenings are issued by Experian and Checkr, two leading companies in the credit reporting and background check space.
Checkr background checks look for national criminal history, sex offender registry, and eviction history. Experian credit checks include a numerical credit score and the rental applicant’s credit history over time.
Organize Your Rent Payments Online
Another exciting free feature that saves time and simplifies the rental process is the ability to accept rent payments online. Any type of payment you take from a tenant can be processed and tracked through this online, secure payment portal, including:
- Monthly rent payments
- Utility payments
- Security deposits
- Additional fees
These payments will be sent directly to your bank account. You won’t pay a fee or percentage of the total to use Zillow online rent payments. Here’s how it works once you’re logged in on Zillow:
- Choose the rental property you want to take payments for.
- Select the account you want the payments to go to and finish setup.
- Send an invitation to your tenant to use the payment platform (credit, debit, or ACH).
- Receive your payments each month without hassle.
This feature is free for tenants who choose to set up ACH (Automatic Clearing House – a direct payment from their bank account to yours). Using a debit card or credit card will result in a small fee for the tenant.
Zillow partners with Stripe and Plaid for online payments to make your information secure and safe during every payment transaction.
Online Lease Agreements
Property managers and landlords will really like this feature! You can create a lease online for free using Zillow’s library of templates, clauses, and addendum options.
Each lease you create is reusable, so you can quickly pull up a lease, make any edits or modifications needed, send to your new tenant, and have them sign online. This process can take as little as 5 minutes.
You can work anything into the lease that you need: Lease length, pets, smoking, household limits, regional rules and regulations, parking rules, and more.
Plus, Zillow explains all “legalese,” so you’ll know exactly what the lease says and what it means for you and your tenant.
The downside: This feature is only available in Colorado, Florida, and Oregon right now.
Plans and Pricing
Zillow Rental Manager pricing is reasonable, but there are a few rules and differences between states that can make it very confusing.
Below, we’ll outline what you can expect to pay to use this platform to list rental properties and manage the entire rental process.
First Listing — Free
If you are listing rental properties in Florida, Colorado, or Oregon, there is a weekly charge for each listing. The first listing you post on Zillow through Rental Manager will be free for 30 days.
All listings expire after 30 days, but you can reactivate it after that time. Reactivation counts as a new, separate listing, and you will be charged for that. In all other states, using Zillow Rental Manager to list properties and use all the above features is free.
Fees — $9.99/listing/week
- Colorado, Florida and Oregon properties only: $9.99/listing, per week
- For tenants only: $29 tenant screening fee for unlimited applications over the next 30 days
It’s worth noting that there will be some changes as Zillow continues adding products to its “Fremium” model. These changes include:
- Beginning February 1, 2020, they’ll also be charging for rentals in Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
- Beginning March 2, 2020, listings in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas will be added to this group.
Once you stop advertising the property, you’ll stop paying the listing fee, but will still have access to the tools below.
- Rental listings: The first rental (in all states)
- Rental applications
- Tenant screenings (free for landlords)
- Online leases
If you have a listing scheduled to renew, you have to deactivate it manually before the renewal date to avoid being charged. Remember, only listings posted in the states mentioned above incur a charge.
Pros and Cons
As with any balanced review, it’s important to highlight both the pros and the cons of a product. Here’s where we think the products excels, and also where it falls behind.
As “The Authority on All Things Real Estate,” we must highlight some alternatives to Zillow Rental Manager. Read on to learn about Zillow’s top competitors in the space.
RealPage is a platform for lease and property management and resident services, and we think it includes more features than Zillow’s product does.
- What it does: From tracking daily property management tasks and automated tenant screening to accepting online rent payments, there are a lot of similarities in the functionality of RealPage and Zillow Rental Manager.
- What it doesn’t do: RealPage doesn’t list pricing information online, which can be a concern. It does not automatically syndicate listings to Trulia and HotPads, as Zillow does.
Buildium helps property managers and landlords manage residential properties. However, it’s considerably more expensive than Zillow Rental Manager at a minimum cost of $47/month per unit.
- What it does: Everything from monthly data reports, maintenance and task lists, complete lists of all properties and tenants, and more can be tracked and organized in this platform.
- What it doesn’t do: Buildium does not allow you to customize your scheduled tasks very much, which has been mentioned in several negative reviews. It’s also not a platform to list a rental property – just the ones you currently manage.
As a former property manager, I know how difficult managing even one rental property is. At its core, Zillow Rental Manager is not meant to be an all-in-one tool for professional property managers.
Looking at these features, pricing details, pros and cons, and alternatives to Zillow Rental Manager, it stands out as a strong contender for one of the best rental management platforms around.
We really like the ease of use, convenience for both landlords and tenants, online payments and lease-building capabilities, and automatic syndication to two other popular rental sites. Best of all, in most states, it’s free to use.
However, Zillow Rental Manager is not perfect. Some neat features, like the lease builder and free listings, are not available in every state. Some tenants may be put off by the $29 fee they’ll have to pay for a background and credit check.
However, don’t miss the point. This platform is simply meant to be an easy way to advertise your property, screen tenants, and collect rent. After all, these are the key functions most investors don’t have the time or expertise to do.
While I don’t think this product should be used by professional managers, it’s a great way to lighten the burden of owning a rental, and I’d recommend it to any landlord seeking a simple platform to streamline the leasing process.
Should You Use Zillow Rental Manager?
Overall, with several handy features for busy property managers and landlords, Zillow Rental Manager seems to be the best platform to use if you have a vacant property and want to quickly and easily find a great tenant for that space.