by Mary Girsch-Bock –
While many property management companies have been offering an online rental payment option to residents for years, there are just as many who currently do not. While technology savvy individuals often jump at the chance to pay rent online, many management companies that currently do offer this option have found that only a fraction of their residents actually utilize an online rental payment option.
The benefits are clear to property management companies; online payments tend to be more timely, the hassle of locating lost checks, stamping checks, and making bank runs becomes obsolete, and the time spent collecting on NSF checks is reduced to zero.
So if you’re considering offering this service to your residents, or want to increase the number of residents that take advantage of it, consider the following.
Appeal to procrastinators!
Being able to pay rent online allows residents who typically wait until the last minute to pay their rent the opportunity to do so – without incurring a late charge in the process.
Inform residents of the advantages of paying online.
Advantages include the ability to view a comprehensive rent payment history, and the option to schedule the rental payment. Some services offer an automatic debit from your account monthly, so residents can simply set up the amount and the date of the direct debit, and not have to think about it again.
Consider offering an incentive for signing up.
Everyone likes to get things for free, so you may want to consider dangling a $5.00- $10.00 gift card to a neighborhood merchant as an incentive.
Make it a contest.
Enter the names of all those signing up for online rental payments during the month in a drawing. Dinner for two or a $50.00 gas card may persuade reluctant residents to sign up.
Make it required.
If none of these work, consider implementing online rental payment as the required standard in payments. Rather than making it a requirement for all residents, impose the new standard on all new residents and establish a date that current residents must comply. You could also tack on a fee to residents who choose to continue to pay their rent with paper checks. Be sure to check with local and state agencies to determine if your property management company can legally impose this restrictionon residents.
While some residents will always prefer to pay rent by check or money order, others find the ability to pay rent quickly and easily online an added bonus, not a detriment.