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As a landlord, perhaps one of the most important recurring tasks you will have is collecting rent. From physically picking up a check from a tenant to implementing the variety of payment technology available, there are numerous methods you can use for collecting rent. Each method has its own pros and cons and, ultimately, it will be up to you as a landlord to discover which rent collection method is best for you.
No matter which method you choose, the number one rule is to create a system for yourself that costs you the least amount of time and results in the best chance of timely payments from your tenants. As a landlord, you will need to assess what not only works best for you but also for your particular tenants. Read on to learn more about the most common methods of collecting rent.
One of the oldest methods of payment around, cash is a secure payment method in the sense that cash can never bounce. If you are handed cash from a tenant, you know that cash will deposit into your bank account with no problem. If you are using cash, you need to be sure you keep detailed records for yourself.
Can’t bounce. You know exactly what you are getting.
Cash usually requires you physically picking up rent money, which can be time-consuming and a hassle. It also makes it possible for you to lose the rent payment without any method of recovery. Cash also makes it harder for both you and the tenant to keep track of payments.
One of the most widely used methods of payment, personal checks are simpler than cash as a check can be put in the mail. Checks are a great method for long distance landlords as they do not require you to be in the same location as your tenants.
Easy to collect without being physically present.
Checks can bounce, which will cost you extra money and time to deal with. They can be canceled by the tenant at any point as well. Checks can also lead to the classic excuse from tenants, “My check got lost in the mail.”
Money Orders/Cashiers Check
Money orders and cashier checks are considered safer than personal checks because you need to use verified funds to purchase them. However, although it’s harder, they can still be canceled before you deposit them.
Money orders and cashier checks are simple to acquire and require verified funds, making them relatively secure.
You will need to have the tenant not only get the money order but also mail it to you. You then will need to physically deposit them in a bank as bank aps do not support money orders. There are also methods to scamming the system. One example is if a tenant gets a money order and receipt but never gives the landlord the money order. They can then use the receipt in court to prove they paid rent.
Direct Deposit Via ACH
Another method for collecting rent is to set up a direct deposit between your tenant’s bank account and your own via ACH. This is usually a free service for both parties. It will require you and the tenant to work together to set it up. If this method is used it is best to consult with your bank to determine what both you and your tenant will need to do in order to make it work. You can also use ACH through service providers such as Paypal.
Once it is set up, direct deposit via ACH is a seamless method. It makes paying rent simple for your tenants and you will not need to do any work to receive your rent payment. You can even use this method to require automatic direct deposits to be set up as a means of guaranteeing rent payments.
Setting up direct deposit via ACH can be a time-consuming process and requires a lot of communication between you and your tenant up front. It also usually takes 4-7 business days for the money to reach your account once the tenant has paid.
Credit & Debit Cards
Credit and debit cards are often a requested payment method by tenants. Using credit and debit cards is simple and can be done through a variety of services such as Paypal and Venmo.
These programs are easy to use and provide an extremely secure method of payment. They allow younger renters who may not own checks to easily pay rent with a credit or debit card. The process is relatively hassle-free and does not require anyone to visit a bank or share bank account information.
For credit cards, most of these services charge a 2-4 percent fee, which can be high on rent amounts. Credit cards allow for tenants to reverse charges 120-180 days down the road. Landlords in certain states can also run into issues when using service providers like Paypal due to the fact that the money is not immediately deposited into the landlord’s account. This can cause legal hangups in states that require rent money to be held in an account dedicated to rent payments.
When it comes to secure methods of payment, wire transfers are one of the best around. This method simply transfers money from one bank account to another. The process is almost immediate and is not easily reversed.
This method is very secure, fast, and simple.
The cost of wiring money is a bit steep, usually around $20-30 a transfer. This also requires a tenant to go to their bank to wire money.
What Rent Collection Method Is Best?
When it comes to choosing the best way to collect rent payments from your tenants, there is no black and white answer. Ultimately, it comes down to what process works best for you and your tenants. Paper check payments are still a popular method among landlords, although, with younger generations moving away from paper checks methods like Venmo and Paypal are increasing in popularity. Many of these platforms provide easy payment with little to no cost.
When deciding upon your payment method be sure you create an easy system for yourself to track payments and late fees. If your current system is not working well, consider adapting to a new system to find a more efficient process.