“I don’t even own a checkbook!” “But where do I buy stamps?!”
Believe it or not, these are some of the common excuses from renters to their landlords when asked to mail a check in for their monthly rent. For most modern renters they are looking for options to pay their rent online. It’s where they shop, pay their bills, attend their classes, stalk their exes – why should their rent be any different?
As a landlord or property manager the problem with encouraging tenants to pay rent online is the handful of tenants that prefer the old fashioned way of doing things, or who don’t trust an online portal for transferring all that cash. It’s ultimately the same reason utility and cell phone companies still accept mail-in payments; however, for a landlord or property manager it’s much more efficient to stick to one process for rental payments. So how do you encourage your tenants to pay rent online?
Make it Policy
Some landlords and property managers have chosen to draw the hard line in the sand by requiring their tenants to pay rent online. While the percentage may be small, you are taking a minor risk by not being able to attract specific renters with this requirement. Creating an online rent payment policy may be an easier task in extremely competitive markets like New York, Chicago or D.C. where options are limited so renters are a little less picky.
Incentivizing your tenants to pay rent online may be the easiest way to streamline your rent collection process. Renters may also be a little happier to make the move to online payments if given a reward and not an ultimatum.
You could knock five percent off the rent for online rent payers. Perhaps you could allow tenants paying online to have until the fifth of the month to pay their rent instead of the first since you aren’t waiting on a check to clear. Maybe you even do a raffle for a $500 gift card for a cleaning service for anyone signing up for online rent payments.
Make it Easy
Most landlords or property managers use online rent payment portals to collect rent online, but have you thought about engaging your tenants on platforms they already use every day? Offering an option to use popular apps like Venmo or PayPal may encourage renters to put down the checkbook.
Renters may not understand all the advantages to paying their rent online, especially if you’re allowing them to pay with a credit card. Send your renters helpful tidbits of information regarding the advantages to paying rent online with a credit card. For instance, give them an idea of how many rewards points they can rack up by paying their rent on their rewards credit card.
You may have to become your own marketing manager here, but I’m pretty sure a short e-mail to tenants about how paying their rent online could mean a free airline ticket somewhere new by the end of their lease would probably get their attention.
Integrate it Into Your Overall Digital Strategy
Encouraging tenants to pay rent online is just the tip of the iceberg. Landlords and property managers are migrating the majority of their activities over to digital platforms. Rental applications are readily available online. Maintenance requests are now taken and updated through online portals.
For landlord and property managers using property helper services, there is an online option for almost everything. As tenants gain more comfort and trust with all their online options, it will make more sense for them to also pay their rent there. If the rent payment is just another aspect of a property’s online strategy, renters are more likely to accept it.
No more trips to the bank. No more lost or bounced checks. No more excuses that it’s “in the mail.” With a little consistency and encouragement, your tenants will be paying their rent online in no time.