COVID-19 accelerated digital disruption across many industries — including commercial real estate. While the larger property managers had been using digital rent collection for years, it wasn’t long before the pandemic exposed some pretty big gaps in this solution’s functionality.
In fact the Deloitte 2022 Commercial Real Estate Outlook identified technology legacy systems as a potential roadblock to innovation and progress. Eight out of 10 firms said they currently don’t have a modernized core system able to easily incorporate newer technologies. More than half of CRE executives said the pandemic revealed technology shortcomings — but since not all technology is created equal, that discovery shouldn’t come as a surprise.
When it comes to effective rent collection technology, however, an inefficient or outdated system can cost time and money. This tech does much more than provide a self-service online portal for tenants to pay rent. The best rent collection tech solutions are comprehensive, taking into consideration both current and future tenants’ requirements and preferences.
Choosing the Right Solution
Not all rent collection technology solutions are created equal. When you’re evaluating your options, keep the following features in mind:
Accessibility is important, too, to ensure inclusivity for tenants who have a wide range of needs, which can include:
- Those who speak English as a second language. Language barriers shouldn’t prevent tenants from using the digital rent collection technology. Implement a tool with multilingual capabilities.
- Those with visual impairments. Some integrated tools include an interactive voice response phoneline. This feature helps tenants make electronic payments.
- Those needing to build — or improve — their credit score. Potential tenants may have minimal credit history or damaged credit, especially those who faced financial challenges during the pandemic. Some rent collection tools include credit reporting abilities. This feature may encourage more adoption from apartment tenants, for example, who are recent college graduates, still students, or younger professionals. In fact, they may even stay longer as they can use this reporting as a way to improve or build their credit.
Multiple payment options offer tenants different choices for paying rent. More ways to pay rent — client-provided kiosks, credit/debit cards, digital wallets, mobile pay, pay by text, in-person/counter payments — can help maximize adoption.
Communication capabilities allow you to send payment reminders via email or text. Or you can send push notifications to tenants to alert or update them on important updates like inspections, maintenance schedules, policy changes, or power outages. Choose a solution that empowers tenants to choose the method of communication they prefer.
Best Online Rent Payment Services
The following tools were chosen based on their ease of use, features, and pricing.
This service allows landlords to collect rent for free or upgrade to the next tier, which deposits rent into landlord accounts in one business day. It has two pricing plans — and both plans include address, credit, employment, eviction, and criminal records background screening. The higher tier plan adds a landlord website and customizable rental applications and leases, too.
It’s a good solution for landlords with small to medium-sized property portfolios.
A comprehensive property management software platform that accepts credit card and bank transfer payments, retail cash payments, and advanced customizability, it’s a great system for landlords with large portfolios. Its flexibility in how tenants can pay rent is its most useful feature. Its three tiered plans are based on investment goals and number of units. Each plan also includes other property management tools to help both landlords and property managers accommodate growing portfolios.
This solution’s most impressive feature is its full property management tools and also the Buildium Academy to help property managers and landlords learn how to use its software.
Free for landlords, it includes a free property management platform for marketing vacancies and tracking expenses and maintenance. It offers tenants the option to pay for renters’ insurance. Its communications features allow landlords and tenants to connect. Tenants can share photos and documents, submit maintenance documents, and more. It also has a screening function and includes a searchable database for useful articles for both landlords and tenants.
It’s a good solution for landlords who want a free online rent payment service, the ability to list and market rentals, track maintenance, store documents, and screen potential tenants.
This software platform offers several payment options for tenants. It uses Dwolla-powered automated clearing house (ACH) transactions and takes credit/debit card payments that use Stripe payment processing. Tenants can also pay via PayPal. It also has two different plans and a free account, but the free account only allows landlords manage up to 75 units and allows only 512MB of online storage. Standard and advanced plans include prospective tenant leads, online rent payments, and e-signatures.
It’s a very cost-effective option based on what it includes. The Standard plan costs $9 per month and gives property manages and landlords access to property management and financial accounting features in addition to the online rent payment services.
The biggest feature of this platform is its quick reconciliation, transferring payments into landlord accounts the same day they’re collected. Landlords receive daily deposit notifications and helps tenants build (or rebuild) credit by reporting payments to all three major credit bureaus. Landlords can choose from three plans based on the number of properties — one to five, six to 50, and 51+ — in their portfolio. It also provides additional property management software including online rental applications, maintenance requests, and resident announcements to streamline communication between landlords or property managers and their tenants.
This software allows tenants to conduct background checks, and it fully integrates with other property management software and landlord websites, too. It offers an option for tenants to connect their utility accounts and benefit from applicable discounts.
The Bottom Line
The most effective approach to collecting rent is a holistic approach. Rent collection technology can be so much more than a tool for simply collecting rent. The right tool encourages tenants to use it, which lowers costs and improves working capital. It can gather and give you access to clear, actionable data from which to drive insights for future planning and adjustments.
Are you a commercial real estate investor or looking for a specific property to meet your company’s needs? We invite you to talk to the professionals at CREA United: an organization of CRE professionals from 81 firms representing all disciplines within the CRE industry, from brokers to subcontractors, financial services to security systems, interior designers to architects, movers to IT, and more.