Investment in Hamilton real estate boomed in the late 2010s, with luxury condo buildings springing up across the city and average rents for apartments jumping by a nation-leading 24% in 2019.

Interview with

Dave Ellis
Dave Ellis
Co-owner, Hanlyn Property Management

Property management companies like Hanlyn have done well in this growing market, but according to Dave Ellis, one of the company’s two joint owner-operators, getting to where they are today took a lot of hard work.

“I remember when I first started the business and we only had 50 or 60 doors,” recalls Dave. “My wife and I would sit in the basement office after the girls had gone to sleep until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, ripping through the files and getting the invoices done.”

Late nights like this got Hanlyn off the ground, but as their portfolio grew into triple figures Dave knew that grit alone wouldn’t be enough to sustain the business’s growth. That’s when he started to look around for technology that could help.

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Working smarter

The Hanlyn team recognised that property management software could help them process payments more efficiently and cut back on admin –  but as Dave explains, the first platform they tried didn’t really live up to  that potential.

“The system we used before PayProp was pretty singular in its function. It was really just a rent processing system. It didn’t allow us the ability to create invoices or take management fees from the rents that came in. In a month, we were still spending 20, maybe 25 hours on manual back-office administration – and there was always a chance for errors.”

This administrative burden didn’t stop Hanlyn from growing their portfolio to around 200 units, but by early 2019 Dave was ready for a change of approach.

“It was getting to the point where I needed something to help with rent reconciliation,” he says. “When I looked, there were a lot of property management software options in Canada, but most of them are made  in the States and I couldn’t find one that fit really well.”

“That was when I found PayProp. It obviously had an international reputation and history, but I felt like it was sort of newer to Canada and my hope was that PayProp and Hanlyn could grow together.”

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Exceeding expectations

“We used to be into things like post-dated cheques. It was so archaic,” he says. “Now PayProp streamlines our rent collection completely. Every single month, two days before the rent is due, the tenant gets an invoice that tells them exactly to the cent what they owe.”

If I have to go to a landlord-tenant court hearing over non-payment of rent, I can just print off that tenant statement and have an entire history of every dollar that tenant has ever been invoiced and every dollar they have paid. Dave Ellis, Co-owner

With a busy property management company to run, Dave also needs to  be able to see the overall status of his portfolio at a glance without having to sort through spreadsheets. With the PayProp dashboard, he says it now takes him five seconds to see his gross income for the month. Because his PayProp account is integrated directly into the Canadian banking system and updated in real time, he can also be sure that his balance is accurate to the cent and always up to date.

In the end, though, the biggest benefit for Hanlyn is the same one that most PayProp clients point to. “The time savings are the big one for us,” says Dave.

Invoicing and approving payments was a huge job. Now it probably takes me an hour or an hour and a half a month. Dave Ellis, Co-owner

Sharing the rewards

While the Hanlyn team saw the benefits of PayProp very quickly, that by itself wasn’t enough for them to judge it a success. As far as Dave was concerned, his clients also had to be satisfied.

My tenants are liking it because they can pay really quickly. Almost everyone is on online banking. Dave Ellis, Co-owner

“It’s very easy for them to set PayProp up as a payee and then pay it every month like any other bill. I had to hold a few hands and walk them into the bank to get set up, but they love it.”

“There was an adjustment period for my landlords while they figured out how to read the statements, that kind of thing. But now they’re happy with it too. They love the fact that they can go in and print off a statement for any period they want, at any time.”

The Hanlyn team have even started to use PayProp as a selling point when marketing their services to landlords.

“When I’m having the initial conversation with a new client, I explain the benefits,” explains Dave.

There’s the increased chance that tenants pay the correct rent on time because of the automatic invoices and reminders, and then the Tenant Portal – being able to see the status of any property, whenever they want. Dave Ellis, Co-owner

Hanlyn’s clients are also making use of PayProp’s value-added features. Around half of them have chosen to receive live payment notifications and reports through the PayProp Owner app, giving Dave back much of the time that he once spent putting together and sending out statements.

With all certainty, we couldn’t go back to life before PayProp. In terms of the rent and invoicing, it really takes care of everything. We’d be lost. Dave Ellis, Co-owner

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