Residential Property Management – How to Set Up a Chart of Accounts

We have several balance sheet accounts. We have assets, cash, receivables – rent that’s not been paid but is due – supplies, pre-paid rent, the value of your building less accumulated depreciation, and then you have equipment. There are some other accounts that in theory you could put in here, but it’s really not required.
Liability Accounts
Then we have what are called liability accounts. These are your accounts payable. These include salaries payable, taxes payable – real estate or even income taxes. If you have a mortgage on your property, mortgage payments, you would set it up as a liability.
Equity
The third compartment of all balance sheets is your equity. Your owner’s equity and the amount maybe you’ve taken out of your business.
These are a basic, fundamental set of chart of accounts that you can take and can incorporate into your balance sheet. Things like Quicken and most of these software packages will have these chart of accounts pre-populated. You don’t even have to worry about it.
A lot of times they have too much. You can start to delete some of them out, because it gets kind of confusing. In particular if you only have a few properties you want to keep it relatively simple.
Statement Accounts
The next are the income statement accounts. We talk about revenue accounts. These are obviously rent. There are late fees, application fees, and potentially interest. If you have a security deposit, then there might be some interest there, and then other. There are potentially other ways that you can earn. You might do some assignment fees and things like that. Those are our basic set of revenue accounts for most landlords to be sufficient.
On the expense side, this is the basic set that we use. There are administrative fees, bank fees, supply expenses, salary expenses, payroll taxes and fees, and things of that nature. Taxes – if you have unemployment or worker’s comp you have to file those taxes. There are rent expenses. Maintenance and repairs are going to be a big one for your buildings. If you have a property manager you would have a management fee.
Insurance
Insurance is definitely another big one. You would obviously have insurance or interest expense. You’re going to have marketing costs. You’re going to have an office, so there are office supplies, equipment, computers, a fax, and things like that. These are all expenses.
Legal and Accounting Fees
There will be legal and accounting fees if you have an accountant or an attorney involved in your business. You would have to expense those things. There might possibly be corporate taxes. There could be court costs if you have to file evictions and things like that and then miscellaneous expenses. These are a basic chart of accounts that you can use to set up your income statement. That’s really it as far as the accounting.
A couple of highlights here. Make sure that you do not co-mingle money. Keep things in nice little silos. Make sure if you’ve got payroll that you take money from the operating account and move it into the payroll account. That way things remain fairly concise.
Make sure you reconcile your accounts on a regular basis. As you grow and expand, as you get more properties, make sure that you are reconciling those accounts on a fairly regular basis. Do not wait weeks or months before you start reconciling your accounts. It will make your life miserable if you have to spend a lot of time trying to reconcile an account six or eight weeks later.

See also  How to Buy Property at the Right Price