PROPERTY MANAGEMENT BLOG

The End of Checks? Rent Payment in 2020 and How to Adapt

System - Monday, August 10, 2020

The climate in Seattle in August is radically different than at the start of the new year. Sure, the cold and rainy days have been replaced by brilliant sunny ones, but also there is uncertainty in the midst. We've gone from hugs and Valentines to social-distance and contact-tracing. In this changed time, tenant weariness is bringing us toward the death of traditional rent payment methods – is your property ready? 

Out with the old:

For decades, rent has been paid in a physical exchange of the same three things – Cash, check, and money order. 

  • Cash: “Cash is king” they used to say, but many millennial renters don't keep any in their wallet when they have excellent cash alternatives such as Venmo, Zelle, Apple Pay, and Paypal. Also, who knows where those dollar bills have been?
  • Check: These include personal checks, cashier's checks, and bank-issued. While cashier's and bank-issued checks at least guarantee that the tenant has the funds, each still require going to the bank and returning to a rent drop-off. Presently, banking in-person means the hassle of finding a rare open branch and even making an appointment
  • Money order: While these eliminate the bounced-check problem, your renters still have to visit bank, grocery, or post office, and that means running an errand and donning a mask and packing the hand sanitizer

In with the new:

In the last few years, online rent payment options have became favored by tenants for their ease of access and immediacy. At this point in 2020 they're also a benefit to public heath and risk-reduction. Combining all of this with the ease of oversight for property owners, it's a solution that benefits everyone. 

What does a fully-featured solution include and how does that benefit me? 

  • Direct Withdraw: A core of online payment, it means using bank account information or 3rd party apps (Paypal etc.) to skip the bank line and pay straight from a digital account
  • Card Support: Be it Visa, MasterCard, or Amex, most everyone carries some kind of plastic to pay for their day-to-day expenses. Unlike a check, most debit and credit cards are unable to have payments bounce
  • Auto-pay: Some call it lazy, some call it efficient. We call it on-time payment every month without having to ask
  • Payment reminders: For those who don't enroll in auto-pay, email reminders keep monthly rent due dates at the top of mind. Same goes for overdue rent, which is especially useful when given how the weeks and months come and go by these days
  • Owner Dashboard: Your tenants aren't the only ones who hate going to the bank. Save yourself a trip and look at monthly numbers and trends as soon as rent is collected

So, is traditional payment actually dead? Not completely. 

While many renters don't even know how to write a check, there are some folks who still insist in writing one monthly. Checks and money orders have their place, and you should probably keep accepting them. BUT, if you don't have an integrated online solution that supports various digital payment types then you're doing a disservice to your renters and taking money out of your own pocket. 

Rent collection will make or break your multifamily property investment. An online payment solution implemented by the property management experts at Guide Property Services makes it easier for tenants to pay and owners to monitor. For a free rental analysis covering rent collection, maintenance, pricing, and much more, get in touch with us today.