Making Rent Payments Online and at Retailers Offers Huge Advantages
Traditionally, making rent payments was a local activity. A tenant would write a check or purchase a money order and drop it into the onsite drop box at the landlord’s office, or the tenant would hand deliver the payment to the landlord or onsite manager. Sometimes, the tenant would mail a physical check to the landlord’s office. Well, these methods of paying have become obsolete due to the problems associated with them and are being phased out in the industry.
With new services offerings and technologies, paying rent has become cheaper, quicker, and safer for everyone including the tenant and the landlord. There are two payment methods that we are going to discuss in this article including paying at our company’s secure payment portal on our website at mParkHomes.com and paying at a retail store using cash, checks, or money orders.
Issues When Paying by Check or Money Order
In the past paying by check or money order was the only way to go, so the issues were accepted. Major issues include the following:
Paying Late – Imagine it is 7PM on the day that rent is due, and you forgot to pay your rent. The landlord’s office closed at 5PM and they will not be checking the rent collection drop box until 9AM the next day. You drop your payment in the drop box, but it will be received late, so you will be charged a late fee.
Erroneous Payments – Check and money order payments require human intervention by the tenant and landlord subjecting them to mistakes. It is sometimes difficult to read a tenant’s writing, so the amount of the payment is not always obvious. In one case, a tenant wrote “$300” in the numerical area of the check but “Three Dollars and No Cents” in the text area of the check. The bank considered this to be a $3 payment causing an underpayment of $297 resulting in a late fee to the tenant. Additionally, onsite managers are not typically skilled bookkeepers and may not be best at managing money. They can easily make mistakes that would not be made by an accounting expert in the corporate office.
Lost Payments – Sometimes payments are lost. A manager could easily credit a payment to the wrong tenant account – especially among similar names. In another situation, a payment put into a drop box could easily be dropped on a windy day without the manager noticing. For postal payments, it is possible that the postal service loses a payment or delivers it to the wrong address. The erroneous recipient can forge an endorsement and cash the payment.
Delayed Payments – Especially over the past year due to the 2020 presidential election and labor issues related to Covid-19, we have experienced situations in which the postal service has delayed mail delivery by three of four weeks.
Stolen payments – Our company has not experienced this, but the industry has experienced thieves stealing drop boxes or the payments contained inside. Once thieves have the checks or money orders, they can forge an endorsement and attempt to cash or deposit the payments. A check or money order can be reported lost or stolen, but it can take weeks or months to replace a money order, and in some cases, stolen funds cannot be recovered.
Online Payments Are More Reliable
Online payments made directly on our website can alleviate the issues indicated above. Each tenant is given a username and password, and they can login to a secure portal. On this portal, they can see their account history, pay their rent and other charges, and download a receipt or account statement. Payments can be made on a one-time basis, or they can be schedule to recur on a regular basis as preferred by the tenant. Payments can be made with a checking account or a credit card depending on the tenant’s preferences. If an error is made, the portal will not permit the payment to be made until the correction is made.
Advantages of Paying Online
Making a payment online is the best method because it is cheapest, quickest, and safest. Making an online payment by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a checking account is free because we, the landlord, pay the transaction fee on the tenant’s behalf. Alternatively, a check or money order can cost up to $1.00 plus any postage if the payment is mailed.
Online payments are quickest. When making an online payment, you can login to the portal at any time before midnight and make the payment before late charges are triggered. Online payments can be made 24 hours per day and on weekends and holidays and do not require support from the management office.
Online payments are safest because they alleviate the risks associated with mistakes and outright theft and fraud associated with traditional check and money order payments. Online payments are automatically checked for errors by the portal before being processed, and the tenant’s ledger is credited without human intervention. Once a payment is made, the funds go directly into our bank account alleviating the risks of lost or stolen payments.
Paying by credit card is an option which offers the same security and convenience advantages as paying by EFT. The only downside to credit card payments is that the credit card processor charges a service fee of about 3%, which is usually paid by the tenant.
Paying at Retail Stores Using Zego by Paylease
For those who prefer to pay with cash or who want to pay by check or money order, but do not want to use the online portal, payments can be made at over 25,000 retail stores using a service called Zego by Paylease. This service allows tenants to go to both large and small retail stores like Wal-Mart, Kroger, and other popular locations to make payments. You simply go to the customer service desk and make the payment directly to the retailer using a special Paylease account number that the landlord provides to you. Once the payment is made, you receive a receipt from the retailer, and the landlord receives the funds from the retailer electronically.
There is a small service fee to use this service, but for those who do not have a checking account and prefer not to use a credit card, the service fee can be a small price to pay for the security and convenience that this service offers. Also, many retail stores are open 24 hours per day, so your payment can be made after the landlord's management office has closed.
Given the numerous options to pay rent electronically or at retail stores at lower cost, greater convenience, and with better security, we suggest all payments be made using these methods. Some properties do not permit local payments and we expect more properties and landlords to discontinue onsite payments going forward.
Please reach out to our management office if you have any questions or concerns or if you would like help to use one of these alternative payment arrangements.