Authorities recently charged a Tennessee property manager with theft after she pocketed her tenant’s rental payments. Now, many landlords are wondering about the best — and most secure — rent collection method. In the case of Volunteer Management & Development Co., the company found itself in a difficult situation after it told tenants they needed to repay rent payments that the former property manager had stolen. After tenants spoke out and went to the news, the company rescinded its request. This situation illustrates a unique challenge of property management: How to collect rent money in a way that is convenient for tenants, but safe from getting lost or stolen?
In this case, the stolen rent payments were in the form of money orders. However, there are unique pros and cons of rent payment methods in every different case. Let’s take a look at all the different methods landlords can collect rent from their tenants, and the benefits and drawbacks you face with each.
One of the most common methods of paying rent is by automated clearing house (ACH) transfer. This method is the primary system that agencies use to electronically deposit funds in financial institutions and make payments online.
- ACH transfers are processed through a secure network. This keeps your tenant’s banking information safe from exposure.
- ACH transfers offer the convenience of automatic payments. Your tenants can set up rent deposits monthly so they never miss rent and incur fees.
- Compared to credit cards, ACH transfers do not charge transaction fees.
- ACH transfers may be limited by the speed of your tenant’s bank processing time. This means it can take a few days between your tenant paying their rent and you receiving the payment.
- In rare cases, a tenant’s bank may reverse an ACH transfer.
For people without credit cards who don’t want to pay with other methods, paying rent with a debit card can be the solution.
- Tenants can easily pay rent with a debit card, either over the phone or online.
- The money is instantly transferred to your account, compared to the delay associated with ACH transfers.
- In cases when a tenant doesn’t have enough money to cover rent, trying to pay with a debit card can cause serious financial problems.
- You may incur some fees for charging rent with a debit card.
Paying rent by credit card can be convenient, though it also offers some drawbacks. Before you allow tenants to pay with a credit card, consider the following pros and cons:
- Paying by credit card can benefit your tenants by allowing them to build their credit scores.
- In addition, tenants may accrue rewards from their credit cards due to spending large amounts of money on rent.
- Paying by credit card is convenient online or by phone.
- Most credit cards charge processing fees, and these can add up over time.
- Some credit card companies don’t allow their credit cards to be used for rent payments. Tenants should check with their card issuer before attempting to pay this way.
Money Transfer Apps
PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, and other money transfer services are another online-only method of paying rent.
- Some tenants may be used to using these apps to make payments. Allowing rent payments this way can make it easy and convenient for tenants to get you their rent money.
- Most money transfer apps were designed so people could pay people they know. This means their functionality is less robust for more official transactions like rent payments.
- Money transfer apps cannot schedule recurring automatic payments. This means your tenant has to always remember to pay on time, which can lead to late payments.
Checks are a safe and easy way to pay the large amounts of money required for rent. However, they can also have some downsides.
- Checks are generally safer than money orders or cash.
- Tenants who pay by check cannot dispute payment later on (although the checks can bounce).
- If your tenant doesn’t have enough money in the bank, the non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee will cut into your profits.
- Younger tenants may not have a checkbook or know how to pay by check.
- If your tenants are mailing a check, it may take multiple days to arrive. It could also get lost in the mail, which takes even more time for your tenant to cancel the check and send a new one.
For some tenants, cash remains the most convenient option for paying rent. As a landlord, accepting cash payments can offer you some benefits, too—but it also has a few drawbacks.
- Tenants may appreciate the ability to pay in cash, improving their overall satisfaction with your rental.
- With cash in hand, you don’t have to wait for electronic payments to process or checks to clear.
- Some payment methods accrue fees with their use; cash helps you avoid them.
- Accepting cash payments can be a risk. Large amounts of cash can easily be lost or stolen either on your end or your tenant’s.
- Because there is no record of cash payments the way there is for a check or electronic deposit, it can be difficult to prove that your tenant actually paid the rent as well as the date they paid it. If you run into a tenant dispute, that can cause issues.
- If you plan on depositing your money with your bank, accepting cash payments means an extra trip to deposit it.
Often known as “traveler’s checks,” money orders are issued by a bank or government, and they can be cashed or deposited into a bank account similar to a check.
- They’re a good option for people who don’t have a standard checking account.
- They can be more secure than cash or a check.
- Many institutions will charge a small fee to issue a money order.
- Any mistakes on a money order may mean they payee cannot cash them, causing inconvenience for you and your tenants.
- As in the case of Volunteer Management & Development Co., money orders can still be stolen—even by your own employee.
Cut Down On Stress From Rent Collection
No matter what method you use to collect rent payments, rent collection can be a stressful experience. If your tenants don’t pay their rent on time, it can impact your ability to make mortgage payments, cover necessary repairs and maintenance, and keep your rental business afloat. If you find your stress levels rising every time rent is due, it may be time to start working with a property manager who can handle rent collection for you.
Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew serves as a valuable intermediary between you and your tenants. We ensure clear communication, easy-to-understand lease terms, and straightforward electronic methods of paying and scheduling rent. We aim to streamline the payment process by offering convenient payment methods to your tenants and sending timely reminders when necessary. We quickly address late payments and take action when necessary, such as charging late fees. With our expertise in local laws and regulations, we can handle any legal issues with rent collection. This spares you, as the property owner, the stress and inconvenience of dealing with disputes or even evictions.
Overall, Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew brings professionalism, experience, and efficiency to the rent collection process. This reduces the stress on both landlords and tenants, making the process easier for everyone. To learn more about how we can help you make rent collection a breeze, call or text us at (503) 515-3170 or learn more on our website.