As my longest running project, the student rental house management platform has grown from a couple of pages to a portal that is still useful for, in this case my father, to manage his student house with 8 rooms. In this post I want to discuss the features, and the underlying components.
The features (aka modules)
Nothing exciting here. Every portal needs a login screen. What’s important is that not only the owner can log in, but also the people renting.
In this house, there’s a shared responsibility to keep the place clean. Every week someone else keeps an eye on the cleanliness and the trash.
The administrator has to create this list manually. A calendar picker will help you define each week and allows you to define who’s responsible. If it’s a holiday week, everyone who is there shares the responsibility. Once the list is completed, everyone has access to it, but also the right people will receive an email on Sunday evenings as a reminder.
The biggest module of them all: Consumption logging. Having insight in water, electricity and gas consumption allows to look for ways to reduce it. It will also indicate leaking taps or malfunctioning electrical equipment. The administrator has to log the meter measurements manually, which in this case is 8x electricity per room, common electricity, gas and water. He can log these either through the web page, a prototype android app or an attempt at a mobile web app.
User management module
User management is twofold. It authorities people to access the right sections and data, but users are also assigned to rooms (and years) to display them correctly in the cleaning module. There are users, groups (grouping users & allowing permissions) and room assignments (which are done per year).
Public website management module
A more recent feature: I had to manually update the code of the publicly accessible website showing all the (available) rooms. That’s a bit cumbersome, so I’ve linked the 2 pages and added a database table where you can manage some of the parameters. Like this my father is free to change the availability of the room, or update the pricing.
There’s no rocket science on this portal, but building this site did make me discover how challenging it is to build a usable piece of software.
A crontab is sends out the emails on Sunday evenings and when my hosting provider implemented Let’s Encrypt (read more about how to enable a Let’s Encrypt certificate on your hosting), I’ve immediately implemented that HTTPS goodness.
Some future improvements:
- Automatic reading of meters (will require electronics)
- A proper mobile solution. The current ones aren’t that great.
- A document management system (contracts, proof of enrollment…) to go paperless. Maybe an interface to the town hall (start with email)
- A communication system
The code will remain closed source for now. Maybe in the future there might be commercial interest, and I believe this platform can really provide added value! If you’d be interested in using this platform, check out kotadmin.be