Rental Property Management Software

Frequently Asked Questions

What systems does The Property Manager run on?

Why does The Property Manager look different than most other Windows programs?

How is the PPCS version of The Property Manager different than a web-based property management software package?

So why is a peer to peer network better for property management software than the common web-based network?

When I am running The Property Manager Release 5 or earlier, it sometimes hangs on the main form and won't respond to any input. I have to kill it using the Task Manager. I am running Windows 2000 or Windows XP. What is happening?

My number of vacancies is reported inaccurately in the Monthly Report. Why?

When I try to start The Property Manager Release 5 or earlier, I get an error message that says Invalid Lock File and it won't start. What should I do?

When I am doing a Cash In Transactionin Release 5 or earlier, I change my mind in the middle and want to change the building and/or the unit I am working on. But The Property Manager will not let me access those fields on the form. Why not?

How do I handle non-deductible transactions in the Cash Out section of The Property Manager?

I have changed one of my Cash Out Purpose names. How may I go back and change that purpose name for all my old transactions?

I have deleted a Cash Out Category that was no longer relevant. Now, when I try to Edit Previous, the system complains about an invalid category. What should I do?

In a Cash In transaction, I made a mistake and now I cannot remove it. What should I do?

Why is it possible to turn double entry bookkeeping on and off, in The Property Manager Corporate Edition? Seems to me that you wouldn't want to do that.

I have upgraded my system to Windows XP, and suddenly The Property Manager Release 5 or older won't run. I get an error message "Can't find ctl3d.dll." Help!!!!

I do not live in the United States. I see that the currency symbol can be changed from the dollar symbol to any other symbol, but apparently only a single character. Where I live, we need three characters to display our currency symbol. Do you intend to fix this?

I live in a nation where we have the Value Added Tax. Does The Property Manager support this?

We are required by the IRS to submit our 1099 information on magnetic media. Does The Property Manager support this?

I notice that the program's account purposes and categories are named. We use account numbers in our system, and we would prefer to stay with that scheme. How could we do this?

Can I add features to the feature table on buildings or units?

Q. What systems does The Property Manager run on?

A. The Property Manager Release 6 runs on Windows from Windows 2000 to the present Windows 8.1, either 32 or 64 bit. Release 6 also runs on Linux, though we have not yet released software for that platform. The Property Manager Release 5 run on all 32 bit Windows systems.

Q. Why does The Property Manager look different than most other Windows programs?

A. Almost all of our competitors for desktop packages have written their application in Visual Basic. Many are re-writing their applications in the Microsoft .NET version of Visual Basic. Microsoft is pressuring developers to do this. The result is that most Windows-based applications have a rather uniform look with which we are all familiar. Visual Basic provides a very nice looking user interface (hence the "Visual" in the name). However, every single one of these applications is very weak in the portion of the program which really matters - the database. The reasons for this are many and very technical, but it comes down to the reality that all of the applications written in Visual Basic for property management have weak database capability. And it is the database which is the heart of the package - which makes it or breaks it.

The Property Manager is not written in Visual Basic. Release 6 is written in SIMPOL (the successor to Superbase), and is designed to work with multiple types of databases including several different SQL databases. Release 5 and earlier are written mostly in Superbase Data Management Language. In the Superbase versions of the package, our ability to configure the user interface was limited, and its appearance has become very old-fashioned. The new SIMPOL version is much more flexible in terms of its user interface. In fact, we can do things using SIMPOL that you don't see done in Visual Basic applications. You may notice that our windows all open completely independently of each other and function fully independently. This enhances YOUR flexibility when you use our package.

From the very beginning of The Property Manager in 1992, our architectural and programming choices were dictated by the need to use a relational database to do this job. It is because of this that all earlier releases of The Property Manager displayed formidable data collection and reporting capability. The new Release 6 retains this formidable capability, and matches it with a new and modern architecture that provides extensive and very flexible capability to the user. We consider our current architecture to be "future proof", and it is a lot prettier than the old Superbase version. But it still looks different than most Windows programs, and we like that.

Q. How is the PPCS version of The Property Manager different than a web-based property management software package?

A. A web based application typically uses a web server with a server operating system, and the end user accesses the property management software package by using a web browser. This mechanism keeps the network bandwidth requirement down, but makes it possible to network a property management application only with a number of limitations and restrictions. Typically, the user (client) is restricted in the capability that she has available; commonly, for instance, the type of reports that the user can generate is strictly limited, and the capability to generate communications with tenants automatically is both limited and inflexible.

Conversely, a typical desktop system has full capability locally. It may work well across a LAN, but only at the price of heavy LAN bandwidth usage. It does not work well across the internet because of the network latencies and the high bandwidth requirements.

The Property Manager using Peer to Peer Client/Server technology (PPCS) follows a middle ground between these two extremes. Basically, we split the database engine between the portion that services the user and manipulates the data and the portion that accesses the data and filters it. So, the portion that services the user (the client) will communicate across the network with the portion that accesses and filters the data (the server) to request information. The server portion will then send only the data requested to the client, which will then perform any post processing and display it for the user.

This mechanism limits the amount of data shipped across the network to levels similar to that seen with a web-based solution, while providing a "fat client" with the complete capability that one would expect to see in a desktop system.

The major limitation of this system is the same as the limitation of the web-based system; time spent in the network shipping data (network latency) will be the limit on response speed. As with a web-based solution, response will also be affected by server load but the peer to peer system does not put nearly the demands on the server that the web based solution does. Commonly, bandwidth limitation in the network is NOT the limiting factor, unlike the situation in a LAN that uses Windows networking facilities. Usually, The Property Manager with PPCS runs at speeds comparable to the fastest of the web based solutions on the internet, and runs faster than The Property Manager using NetBIOS on a LAN. Also, of course, since the networking is fully built into the database engine, The Property Manager will operate in PPCS mode without a dedicated server operating system.
For more information, read our
whitepaper.

Q. So why is a peer to peer network better for property management software than the common web-based network?

A. There are several reasons. First, the traditional web-based system places all the capability on the server in spite of the fact that desktop systems are very capable. The consequence is that major server hardware capability is required, while the desktop client is underutilized. The Property Manager distributes the workload so that most of the work is done on the client. As a consequence, The Property Manager can do a job comparable to the web-based system with much less expensive server hardware and, if it has the same server hardware, it will outperform the web-based system.

Second, of course, is the fact that The Property Manager works well over the internet WITHOUT a server operating system. This simplifies licensing issues, makes administration much more manageable, and substantially reduces cost.

Third, security is much better with our architecture than with a web-based architecture. Because The Property Manager does not use the web, it is not vulnerable to any of the attacks that plague web-based systems. Because The Property Manager does not use any standard ports or services for its communications, it is not necessary for the server to have ANY of those ports open, hence security is vastly enhanced. The Property Manager drops without acknowledgement any attempted communication that doesn't fit the exact format, and every communication is fully encrypted. Hence, The Property Manager doesn't "give away" anything that could be used by a bad guy to compromise it. Because The Property Manager can be easily configured to communicate on ANY ports, a bad guy can't even identify it by the existence of a specific open port. Since The Property Manager employs authentication based on specific allowed computers, it is difficult to hack. Even if the server should somehow be compromised, our use of fully encrypted database files provides yet another line of defense for your critical data. We won't be so bold as to claim invulnerability, but we have none of the vulnerabilities of typical web-based applications.

But probably the most important single reason is the fault tolerance that the peer-to-peer mechanism exhibits. In the web-based system, if the server fails or the network goes down, all clients stop. This can place you in the position of having your entire organization at a standstill. When you consider that often the web-based system does not fail gracefully, but leaves data in an inconsistent state, you see that recovery can be a nightmare, costing time and money. We have found many examples of major organizations being totally down for two or three days after a major server crash, while the techs worked frantically and reps from the property management software vendor had to fly to the location to help. This is very expensive.

This does not happen with The Property Manager. Should the server or the network go down, the clients enter fallback mode and keep working. They will have reduced capability since the server is not available but - given the peer-to-peer architecture and intelligent caching algorithms - The Property Manager will generally be able to continue operations to the extent of permitting users to perform most ordinary day-to-day property management tasks. Further, in almost every case, The Property Manager fails gracefully which means that you are very unlikely to have any issues with inconsistent data. When the server restarts, The Property Manager will resume as if nothing had happened.

Also, it is possible to distribute the database across multiple servers. The Property Manager handles this transparently. Most users choose to not do this initially because the setup is more complicated and more server-grade hardware is required, but by doing it the network can be made very fault tolerant and robust. This capability simply does not exist in the typical web-based property mangement software package, but with The Property Manager it can be implemented at any time. In fact, it is an easy network upgrade.

And finally, The Property Manager is designed to automatically do dual writes across the network. If so configured, every client will write to a designated backup server when it writes to the primary server. This means that, should the primary server fail or crash, the entire network can quickly switch to the backup server and begin using it. While this capability does exist with the traditional web-based package, it adds considerable cost and complexity to the administration of the network. The Property Manager's peer-to-peer capability eliminates all this cost, making the backup exercise almost completely trivial - and transparent.

When you use The Property Manager, your business will never go completely down, and will be back to full capability in minutes instead of days,

To put it bluntly, the peer-to-peer mechanism is a vastly superior networking mechanism for the property management job. There is absolutely no downside. Someday, everyone will be doing it. Right now, we are the only ones. We have no competition.
There is a lot more information in our
whitepaper.

Q.When I am running The Property Manager Release 5 or earlier, it sometimes hangs on the main form and won't respond to any input. I have to kill it using the Task Manager. I am running Windows 2000 or Windows XP. What is happening?

A. This problem came about because of a particular error in the Windows file system that our package did not expect. We have added code that will prevent our program from hanging if the Windows file system displays the problem. This code is available as of the Release 4.3 update. If you are using a version prior to 4.3, please update to 4.3. Also, the occurence of this problem indicates that you do have a problem with your NTFS file system in Win 2000 or Win XP. Please run chkdsk immediately, and the problem will go away.

Q. My number of vacancies is reported inaccurately in the Monthly Report. Why?

A. Vacancies will be reported inaccurately if either of these conditions occur: (1) either you report a new tenant moved in without reporting the prior tenant moved out; or

(2) A tenant moved from one unit to another and you handled it by changing the BldgCode/UnitCode on the Tenant Form rather than processing the tenant as a move-out and then re-entering them as a move-in at the new location.

Make sure you process your move-outs when they move out. Even if you don't do it until much later, make sure you process a move-out BEFORE processing the subsequent move-in.

Q. When I try to start The Property Manager Release 5 or earlier, I get an error message that says Invalid Lock File and it won't start. What should I do?

A. LAN versions of Superbase use lock files to control access to shared files. In this way, Superbase can prevent data from being corrupted. Something has happened to the lock files that control your access. Using Windows Explorer, go to C:\ThePropertyManager and delete all files that have the suffix sb!. Then delete the file called Superbase.net. After you do this, restart The Property Manager. You should now have no trouble.

Q. When I am doing a Cash In Transaction in Release 5 or earlier, I change my mind in the middle and want to change the building and/or the unit I am working on. But The Property Manager will not let me access those fields on the form. Why not?

A. Keeping your data from being corrupted is a primary mission of The Property Manager. When you are doing a Cash In transaction, you are usually adding to a tenant's account. It is imperative that this transaction go correctly with no errors. If we permit you to change building/unit/tenant information when in the process of adding a new transaction, we greatly increase the possibility of error by the user, resulting in bad data. We avoid this by forbidding such changes. If you wish to change to a different building/unit/tenant, you must void the current transaction by selecting Enter Another.

The architecture of Release 6 has freed us from this constraint; you can change anything at any time, and when you save, the data will be saved correctly.

Q. How do I handle non-deductible transactions in the Cash Out section of The Property Manager?

A. In our business, we have established a Cash Out Purpose called NonDeductible. Under that purpose we have established Categories that apply. In our particular case, some of our vehicles are expensed and some are depreciated. The expensed vehicles get a mileage deduction, so fuel purchases for those vehicles are not per se deductible. We therefore have a category naming each such vehicle under the NonDeductible purpose, and all expenses are placed there. This way, the expenses all show on our reports, but with the label nondeductible it is obvious to us and our accountant how to treat them.

Q. I have changed one of my Cash Out Purpose names. How may I go back and change that purpose name for all my old transactions?

A. There are two ways. First, you may edit all your old transactions one by one using the Edit Previous feature. This, obviously, could be tedious. Second, you may upgrade by installing Superbase Personal, and the Update feature under the Data menu item will handle the job for you.

Q. I have deleted a Cash Out Category that was no longer relevant. Now, when I try to Edit Previous, the system complains about an invalid category. What should I do?

A. You can either reinstate the category in order to do the Edit Previous, or you can upgrade to Superbase Personal which will allow you to directly manipulate the raw data, without the intervening validity checks that The Property Manager performs. Remember, though, that if you manually change the Amount of such a transaction, you need to update that information in the Building section, in the Vendor section, and in the WorkOrder section as well. If you are doing Double entry bookkeeping, you will also need to make adjustments to the cktrns file and the checkact file.

Q. In a Cash In transaction, I made a mistake and now I cannot remove it. What should I do?

A. For auditing and data integrity purposes, you are provided with no capability to remove transactions from the Cash In section. You should back out the transaction by putting in an additional transaction with a negative number for the amount, and a comment in the comments field saying that you are correcting an error. If you really wish to delete the transaction, you must upgrade to Superbase Personal, which will let you manipulate the raw data. Be advised, though, that if you do this you must also correct entries in the Tenant Section and, if you are doing Double Entry Bookkeeping, you must make adjustments in the cktrns file and the CheckAct files as well.

Q. Why is it possible to turn double entry bookkeeping on and off, in The Property Manager Corporate Edition? Seems to me that you wouldn't want to do that.

A. Within broad limits, we do not want to tell you what it is that you want to do. We want to give you the capability to do as you choose. We agree that it would probably not be a good idea to turn double entry bookkeeping on and off. But by providing the capability, we give you the choice. Many owners or managers want the ability to handle multiple bank accounts out of The Property Manager without the burden imposed by double entry bookkeeping, and we provide them the capability with this facility. Also, as a company grows and changes, the ability to switch to/from double entry bookkeeping with the click of a mouse is a useful capability.

Q. I have upgraded my system to Windows XP, and suddenly The Property Manager Release 5 or older won't run. I get an error message "Can't find ctl3d.dll." Help!!!!

A. Microsoft has stopped shipping this DLL with Windows, effective with Windows XP. The functionality has been moved to different locations in the OS. You need to obtain a copy of ctl3d.dll and place it in your system folder on the C:\ drive. You may find this DLL on your old system, or you may find it at many locations around the web. If you wish, email us at support@softwareforlandlords.com and we will send you a copy.

Q. I do not live in the United States. I see that the currency symbol can be changed from the dollar symbol to any other symbol, but apparently only a single character. Where I live, we need three characters to display our currency symbol. Do you intend to fix this?

A. This change was implemented in Release 4.4. You should update. If you choose to not update to 4.4, you can change the parameter yourself in the version you are running. Go into the C:\ThePropertyManager folder and find the file named NextNo.sbd. This is a text file which you can open with Notepad or Wordpad. Open it.

On the next to last line, you will see the following text string:

CurSym ;TXT ;1 ;18 ;1 ;6 ;1 ;1 ;

Change it to this:

CurSym ;TXT ;4 ;18 ;1 ;6 ;1 ;1 ;

Now you can have four character currency symbols.

Q. I live in a nation where we have the Value Added Tax. Does The Property Manager support this?

A. The Corporate and Enterprise editions, and the Hosted version of the Corporate Edition, support Value Added Tax.

Q. We are required by the IRS to submit our 1099 information on magnetic media. Does The Property Manager support this?

A. Generating the magnetic media for the IRS is an entire vertical integration market, and one that we do not intend to enter. However, we recognize that some of our clients have this need. Accordingly, our 1099 report generator has an option to permit you to output all data in a comma separated text file that can be read by most 1099 magnetic media generation software

Q. I notice that the program's account purposes and categories are named. We use account numbers in our system, and we would prefer to stay with that scheme. How could we do this?

A. Within broad limits, The Property Manager does not care how you name your accounts. If you wish to number them, feel free. This will work just fine.

Q. Can I add features to the feature table on buildings or units?

A. Yes. Our capability in this regard is comprehensive. You can add additional information without limit using the "Extra Info" button on the building form, or on the unit form, or on the tenant form. This information will be searchable using the Query engine.

Copyright 2017 by Just So Software, Inc. All rights reserved.

links    Sitemap