5 tips for requiring online rental payments

Mary Gribbons
Mary Gribbons | 4 min. read
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Published on April 14, 2015

As a property manager, collecting rent is never too far from your mind. And why would it be? If rent doesn’t arrive on time, it can delay so many other things, including owner payments. Of course, this strains the business relationship you have with your owners, and puts a hold on any property management fees you might receive, too.

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So, you have two options: hope that residents remember to put the check in the mail on time, or use online payments, like Buildium’s ePay.

Nick Schilling, Buildium customer and head of finance at Minneapolis-based Sharper Management, says he depends on online payments to receive rent on time, “keep management fees low and make sure rental owners receive their monthly deposits on time. ePay has almost eliminated collection issues and automates the accounting of rent collection.”

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, here’s how easy it is for residents to set up:

  1. Tenants log in to the resident portal from a phone, tablet, or desktop computer.
  2. From here, they can make a one-time rent payment or enable automatic, recurring payments.
  3. Payments are immediately recorded as pending in your Buildium account, so you’ll know exactly who pays on time and when.
  4. When the deposit reaches your bank, it’s posted in Buildium, so you never have to manually enter tenant transactions.

We recommend requiring every tenant to pay rent electronically, either through an EFT (electronic funds transfer) or by credit card. But then the question becomes, how do you convince residents that it’s worth their time to set up online payments?

5 Ways to Implement a Mandatory Online Payments Policy

Include It on Your Application

On your rental application, ask residents if they would prefer to make rent payments online. This is a great way to get a sense for what apartment hunters are looking for and introduce them to how you run your business.

Talk About the Policy at Lease Signing

Be transparent with incoming tenants and tell them how online payments work and what the benefits are for them (no need to write a check, take it to the post office, and worry about it getting there on time). Include instructions for using ePay in your lease package.

Start Small

If you’re nervous that tenants won’t like a mandatory policy, roll it out in increments. Make it mandatory for all incoming tenants, and roll it out to a group of trusted residents to start with. For example, you may want to introduce it when it’s time to renew their lease.

Set It Up for Them

Some tenants may be less tech-savvy than others, so you may want to set up online payments for them. Start by using this form to collect tenant payment information, then sign in as any resident with their portal login. From here (with their approval), you can schedule recurring payments, which helps you to make sure all of their information is ready for the first of the month.

Add an Incentive for Tenants

For residents willing to pay online, offer to take a percentage off of their rent for the first couple of months. Or, for every on-time payment made online, give them a small gift card to a local coffee shop or grocery store.

You probably don’t have to worry too much about tenants hesitating to use online payments, though. Buildium customer Shane Horsch of Setter Realty, LLC was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get tenants on board. He says, “With ePay, it’s crystal clear to both landlord [and] tenant whether a tenant paid or did not, no questions. I’ve had 100% success enticing tenants to use the feature so far.”

Sounds pretty good, right? Just click here and sign in to get started with ePay. Happy collecting!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April of 2015, but was last updated on January 10, 2018 to reflect updates to our products and support. 

Read more on Accounting & Taxes
Mary Gribbons

Mary Gribbons was Buildium's UX Research Coordinator, speaking with our customers regularly to improve Buildium. Mary has a degree in Information Design and Corporate Communication from Bentley University.

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