Can You Use QuickBooks as Rental Property Management Software?

By Russ Davidson • Updated on May 13th, 2021
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Is QuickBooks good as a rental property management software? Simply put, yes, QuickBooks does have the capacity to be used for managing rental property accounting transactions. The software lets you set up properties as customers, tenants as sub-customers, and classes to track various transaction types.

Whatever software you decide on, you’ll need something to track rent payments, expenses, payments, and profits. Should your business use manual methods such as spreadsheets? Or go with popular accounting software such as QuickBooks? While QuickBooks is a great accounting system for general purposes, it does lack the necessary features that will allow you to better manage your properties and become a better landlord.

QuickBooks is a massively popular accounting product with both desktop and online versions–the latter having more than 3.9 million subscribers alone. The software is used by a variety of industries, meaning it’s possible to use a product such as QuickBooks Online for your property management needs. Specifically, it is best used by a property manager handling small to midsize properties.

How Do Landlords Use QuickBooks?

Desktop versions of Quickbooks will allow you to set up company and customer files as various properties. This will allow you to handle tasks such as collecting rent from tenants and paying property owners and management companies, on top of any fees involved in property maintenance.

QuickBooks Enterprise Income Tracker
QuickBooks Enterprise is QuickBook’s most advanced offering and includes in-depth financial management.

It’s important to note that there is no specific version of QuickBooks tailored to the real estate or property management industry. Because of this, you’ll need to be fluid with the program and perhaps make a few tweaks and adjustments in order to have it work the way a property owner would like.

For example, in QuickBooks you’ll be able to create and manage two company files:

  • Rental property company: For collecting rent, paying bills, and managing the property for the owner
  • Property management company: A file for receiving income for managing properties

This will help keep the companies’ transactions separate from each other, allowing you to set up tenants and vendors, accounts and items, record security deposits, track the rent income, record expenses for each property, and pay the property owners. From the property management side, you’ll be able to set up property owners as customers, set up accounts and items, and record property management income.

If the property management business is comprised of several large properties or multiple complexes, it is advised you look into a more advanced system. A professional property manager could be better off finding a trust accounting system. Whatever accounting software is chosen to handle property management accounting, these facts remain certain:

  • Once rent is received from the tenants, it needs to be disbursed to the property owners. This money should be kept in its own account and separate from any account that is used to pay expenses.
  • Any money also received from the owners for the work you’ve done (your management fee) should be put into your own account.

How Do I Record Transactions For A Property Management Company In QuickBooks?

QuickBooks lacks this type of straightforward account management and is why it can be difficult to manage multiple properties using QuickBooks. However, QuickBooks does post instructions on their own website about how to record transactions for a property management company:

Create A Company File For A Rental Property Company

This is where you track transactions for each property being managed and record rent income and expenses.

  • Set up tenants and vendors: Set up properties as customers, tenants as customers or jobs of properties, and owners as vendors.
  • Set up accounts and items: Set up checking accounts as assets, security deposits as liabilities, rent income and common area maintenance expenses (CAM) as income, and property management expenses and property owner payments as expenses.
  • Record security deposits: Use a liability account for a security deposit.
  • Track rent income: Record rent income as invoices if you receive payments at a later date or as sales receipts if you receive payments right away.
  • Record expenses for each property: Record property expenses such as property maintenance, utilities, and repairs. Record them as bills if paid at a later date or checks if vendors are paid right away.
  • Pay property owners: Use profit and loss reports to calculate how much to transfer to property owner’s accounts. Write checks for the payment and mark it as a vendor payment.

Create A Company File For A Property Management Company

A rental property business will also want to track their own business transactions, such as the income and expenses incurred from managing the properties on behalf of the owners.

  • Set up property owners as customers
  • Set up accounts and items: Set up checking accounts, furniture, and equipment costs as assets, payroll liabilities as a liability, income as income, and insurance and utilities as expenses
  • Record income: Record management income from property owners as invoices if paid at a later date or as sales receipts if you receive payments right away.

Limitations of Using QuickBooks for Property Management

QuickBooks may offer some of the most widely used accounting solutions for small businesses, but this comes at the expense of not offering industry-specific capabilities when it comes to managing rentals.

As described in the previous section, while it’s possible to set up QuickBooks in a manner capable of handling rental property accounting, it’s not as straightforward as it could be with industry-specific software. A business will need to have an above-average understanding of the ins and outs of the software in order to set it up correctly, and this will also create a bigger learning curve for your employees.

When you create invoice payments for rent collection, tenants do not have a client portal they can log into to view their monthly rent statement and make a payment. This also means they do not have the ability to set up autopay. Furthermore, tenants won’t have the ability to do non-financial-related tasks, such as view their lease terms or submit a maintenance request (work order).

For the property managers, they’ll be without abilities such as sending mass emails to tenants (such as announcements), tenant screening, eSigning lease documents, or viewing tenant work orders. It may be hard to go away from an accounting program that you’ve used for years, but many find it much more reasonable to have all of those functionalities in one place.

QuickBooks may handle its best traits incredible well (such as tracking transactions and monitoring cash flow), but QuickBooks may fall short for a property manager who isn’t patient enough to deal with these limitations, for someone who desires more than just financial features, or for someone desiring a software built exclusively for them.

Appfolio Move In QuickBooks Property Management Software
An industry-specific option such as AppFolio has features specific to property managers, such as move-in onboarding.

Best QuickBooks Alternatives For Property Management Software

If your business feels that you’ve outgrown QuickBooks or would prefer something that is more geared towards the industry, there are a number of options available. One way to decide is to decide what is the most important to you.

  • Do you want the best overall software?
  • Do you want one catered towards small rental property management companies?
  • Do you want an online software?
  • Are you looking for something less expensive than QuickBooks?

The following software options all include financial management on top of additional capabilities that can help you run and even expand your rental property management operations.

Best
Overall
Appfolio Screenshot
Appfolio
Strong CAM features
Customized commercial reporting
Online payments
Best for
Small Business
Hemlane Screenshot
Hemlane
Online rent collection
Real-time financial and maintenance info
No setup fees and $0 ACH transaction fees
Best
Free
TenantCloud Screenshot
TenantCloud
Includes basic accounting
Online payments
Maintenance requests
Best for
Rental Properties
Buildium Screenshot
Buildium
Scalable (for 1 unit or 5,000 units)
Core package includes all features
Annual pricing discounts available
Best
Online
Propertyware Screenshot
Propertyware
Heavy customization options
New utility billing features
Tenant portal available via mobile app
Best Overall
AppFolio Property Manager
★★★★★
★★★★★
(3)

HOA Dues Roll
Move-In Lease Details
Property Budgeting
Flexible Reporting
Built-In Screening
What We Like
Strong CAM features
Customized commercial reporting
Online payments
What We Don’t Like
No outside CRM integrations
Hard to customize electronic leases
Overview
Price Range: $$
Starting Price: $0.80/month/unit
Client OS: Web

AppFolio is a great fit for both residential and commercial property management, making it one of the best overall options no matter what type of properties you’re working with. The tool has one of the most modern looking interfaces around and provides sleek marketing tools that help post vacancies to your website and sync with 3rd party hosting sites. You can also easily establish rent increases based on the terms of the lease, quickly resolve maintenance issues, and more.

For residential properties, the software gives you everything you need so you don’t have to rely on an outside application and screening tool or a third-party accounting system such as Quickbooks. The commercial capabilities were built to deal with more complicated leases, specialized reporting, CAM reconciliations, and more.

Best for Small Business
Hemlane
★★★★★
★★★★★
(1)

Tenant Screening
Payment request
Marketing
Maintenance tickets
Ledger
Lease management
Active Advertising
Dashboard
What We Like
Online rent collection
Real-time financial and maintenance info
No setup fees and $0 ACH transaction fees
What We Don’t Like
No mobile app
Advertising through RentPath Network costs extra
Repair call center only available on upgraded packages
Overview
Price Range: $$
Starting Price: $2/month/unit
Client OS: Web, iOS, Android

Hemlane is an all-in-one rental property management solution for owners, real estate agents, and property managers. Hemlane lets you manage properties easier than ever with their leasing tools, local support, maintenance coordination, and management tools.

Small businesses will find the Basic package from Hemlane to be as robust as they will need, while still having the option to upgrade to a more premium package if they ever grow. The core functionalities include leasing with marketing and tenant placement tools, local agent tools to help owners connect with managers and agents, management tools to handle finances and lease management, and maintenance tools to handle repair requests with your repair team.

Best Free
TenantCloud
★★★★★
★★★★★
(2)

TenantCloud Rent Payments
TenantCloud Maintenance Requests
What We Like
Basic accounting
Online payments
Maintenance requests
What We Don’t Like
Free version is limited to 75 units
QuickBooks integration is a paid feature
Overview
Price Range: $
Starting Price: $9/month
Client OS: Web

TenantCloud is a free cloud property management software that can be used by both landlords and tenants. Landlords have the ability to receive online payments, screen applicants, manage finances, and get a free listing website. Meanwhile, tenants can submit rental applications, pay rent online and keep a detailed record of payments, and submit maintenance requests.

The free version of TenantCloud is best used by landlords who have under 75 units. This version allows for 1 user and up to 10 custom templates for rental agreements and notices. The paid version starts at $9/month.

Best for Rental Properties
Buildium
★★★★★
★★★★★
(1)

Association Violations Management
Rent Roll
Manager Dashboard
Open Service Request
Work Orders
Vendor Management
Financials By Property Lease
Applicant Management
Bill Management
Tenant Management
Online Lease Applications
Applicant Screening
Reports
Tenant Portal Welcome Dashboard
Tentant Portal Payment History
Public Rental Listings
Public Site
What We Like
Scalable (can be used for 1 unit or 5,000 units)
Core package includes all features
Annual pricing option saves 10% on cost
What We Don’t Like
A la carte pricing for certain features
Electronic leases only free with Plus version
Overview
Price Range: $$
Starting Price: $47/month
Client OS: Web, iOS, Android

Buildium is a complete property management solution designed by property managers. The software handles property accounting, company financials, reporting, as well as handling online payments with both a tenant portal and an owner portal. Buildium is best used by residential rental management companies given it’s scalability in how many units can be managed.

Buildium starts at $47/month, but has a unique a la carte fee structure that really only makes the software worth it if you manage at least 50 properties. For example, while managing 1 unit costs $47/month, managing 50 units is only $31 more at $78/month. They do have a “Pro” version which includes free EFT payments, free bank account setup, and free electronic leases.

Want more options? Check out our list of best rental property management software options.

Best Online
Propertyware
★★★★★
★★★★★
(3)

Dashboard
Owner Portal
Text Messaging
Listing Widget
What We Like
Heavy customization options
New utility billing features
Tenant portal available via mobile app
What We Don’t Like
Steep learning curve
$250/month minimum
Website not included
Overview
Price Range: $$
Starting Price: $1/month/unit
Client OS: Web

Propertyware is a completely web-based system providing flexible pricing and fully-integrated accounting, marketing, and maintenance features. Propertyware is a fantastic choice for a fast-growing company that is looking to expand to more properties and units.

Propertyware provides one of the most flexible reporting options among property management tools, including the ability to create custom fields (in contrast to solution with static reports with no content or layout customization options). The solution also has automatic email notifications for owners and tenants, owner ACH contributions via an owner portal, and an overall more robust feel.

Want more options? Check out our list of best online property management software.

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