For investors, managing investment property has traditionally been an all-or-nothing proposition.

They either pay a property agent 6 to 7 per cent commission on the rent and other fees, or shoulder the burden of the entire property management task on their own.

BPAY Group is offering landlords an easy and convenient alternative with its new subsidiary Lodge, a property management platform for independent investors.

“We’re enabling self-managed landlords to manage the properties on their own more easily, and we’re giving them access to a lot of tools that they otherwise may not have access to or would find difficult to find in the market,” says Justin Jefferies, Chief Executive of Lodge.

Lodge provides a range of tools and market intelligence to put landlords in control of all aspects of managing rental property.

First and foremost, Lodge helps landlords to collect rent using BPAY, and importantly, alerts them if rent hasn’t been paid.

Do-it-yourself property investors have always struggled to find reliable and reasonably priced trades people. Lodge streamlines this process through its partnership with ServiceSeeking.com.au, which matches potential customers and interested businesses who can complete the work needed.  The integration onto the Lodge platform enables independent landlords to get upfront pricing and compare offers for painters, plumbers, electricians and so on.

Lodge has also integrated with other businesses in the property space, including the Equifax credit agency to allow landlords to check the creditworthiness of potential tenants.

Making the investment process simpler and easier

The platform will also eliminate the traditional tax-time headache for landlords through the Lodge partnership with H&R Block to assist investors in managing their finances and taxes. This allows landlords to store and download all financial documents including annual tax statements and send them directly through the platform to an H&R Block accountant.

“Our goal is to help property investors through making the investment process easier and simpler, so we’re thrilled to be partnering with the tax specialists at H&R Block, as it gives us peace of mind to know we’re providing our customers with expertise when it comes to the often-confusing area of property investment finances and taxes,” says Jefferies.

Nearly 9 per cent of Australians own investment property and property management is a sizeable market, with a $2.1 billion annual spend in Australia, including $750 million from smaller landlords, says Jefferies.

“BPAY Group is very well-positioned to take advantage of the space because, if you line up the whole life cycle of property investing – find a tenant, check their references, collect rent, handle their service requests and so on – we feel that the most important moment of truth in that process is the collection of rent, because it’s the most frequent,” he says. “It’s done weekly in most cases, and it is high dollar volume."

Lodge is the result of BPAY Group’s new focus on innovation under Chief Executive John Banfield as the organisation responds the threat of digital disruption to traditional finance and transaction services.

It is one of two BPAY Group businesses recently launched taking BPAY Group beyond its traditional payments focus following an intensive design program with BCG Digital Ventures to identify the key customer frictions they were best positioned solve.

The second company, Sypht Pty Ltd, uses artificial intelligence to unlock data captured in documents and, like Lodge, has been incorporated into a separate company to reflect its higher growth potential.

Data to reveal market pricing

Tenants will be able to use the Lodge platform to contact the landlord instead of ringing them.

“We found that that’s a real pain point for landlords because it’s annoying sometimes if you get an overzealous tenant that has your mobile number and they’re calling you, say if the rubbish bins are blocking the driveway,” he says.

“By channelling all that communication through the application, we will actually improve communication because it allows landlords to communicate on their terms. It makes sense for them.”

The platform charges $19.99 per month per investor for any number of properties, but as a platform business it will also earn indirect revenue from on selling and referring other services.

“We see a lot of services coming out of this. Our vision is to enable trust within your property community,” says Jefferies.

“We feel that, to really have this work well, we have to have everybody in the community working well together. It’s you as a landlord, your tenants, your financial advisor, your tax accountant, your tradies, and that’s where we’re headed.”
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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