Managing a multifamily housing community can be difficult enough on its own. Add in the time it takes to handle a full drop box during rent week and you can all but kiss your sanity goodbye! Processing stacks upon stacks of paper checks and money orders might just be the most mind numbing part of property management. That doesn’t mean you can just tune out while you do it, though; it just takes 2 transposed numbers to force you to redo an entire afternoon’s worth of payments.
But what can you do? Paper rent payments are as much a part of multifamily housing as lease agreements and renters insurance, right? Not necessarily. Renters are looking for online payment options in increasing numbers, and the trend doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. In fact, an NMHC study from last year found that 76% of renters prefer to pay their rent online.
Residents prefer online payments for obvious reasons – they are more convenient, rent can be paid from anywhere with an internet connection, and it saves them a trip to the leasing office. The benefits to property management, while sometimes less obvious, can have an incredible impact on the workload during rent week.
Quite simply, every online payment you receive saves you or your staff time. The higher your adoption of online payments, the more time you have to focus on the thing what really matters in multifamily housing: Resident retention. Rather than locking yourself in your office and scanning checks all day, you can spend that time planning community events to make residents feel valued.
One aspect of drop box payments that is often ignored by the industry is the liability they represent. We’ve all heard horror stories of a disgruntled resident dumping some lighter fluid and a match into a drop box on the first of the month. While stories like this are almost surely anecdotal, employee theft and fraud are very real concerns. Removing drop boxes and moving to paperless payments can work to reduce this risk significantly.
Time savings and a significant reduction of liability aren’t the only reasons property managers should encourage online payments. Payment portals require users to submit an email to create an account. Increased email collection rates are helpful for a variety of reasons, from emailed rent reminders, to updating residents with community news. Residents who pay online are also significantly more likely to take advantage of other online tools made available by the property like online maintenance requests, lease renewals, etc.
Between time savings, reduction in liability and increased use of online tools, property managers everywhere should be doing whatever it takes to encourage more residents to pay online. Not only does it benefit the on-site staff, it’s what renters want as well.