Tips for a Long Distance Landlord

Long distance landlord
Tips for a long distance landlord can be as simple as online rent payment.

There are a variety of reasons why a landlord may not live near their rental property. Job relocation may force a physical move but you don’t want to sell your home. So instead of leaving the property empty, you’re willing to rent it out. Another reason could be inheritance. You may have inherited a property in another state and wish to rent instead of selling it. Regardless the reason, we’ll share a few simple tips for a long distance landlord to make landlording a success.

Organize a Local Team

As a long distance landlord, you are not physically present. To handle situations that arise, you need to rely on people who can be present and help you quickly, honestly, and successfully. Having an electrician, plumber, and handyperson that can address a situation quickly (and bill you later) will give you peace of mind. Adding to that local team could be a landscaper who will ensure your property looks good and is cared for. An alternative to organizing a local team would be hiring a property management company. It is important to interview a few to compare their services and fees.

Use Technology

Technology can make the lives of long distance landlords easier. Something as simple as communicating with tenants by text or email can be easy and effective. Online rent payment is another very simple yet powerful technology that makes the rent collection process easy. ClearNow is an online rent payment service that has been serving landlords and tenants since 2000. Rent is automatically deposited to your bank account making rent collection easy and efficient.

Find Great Tenants

Having a tenant you can trust, that will take care of your rental property, and pay rent on time is every landlord’s dream. Screening tenants become even more important for long distance landlords. Taking the time to review applications, interviewing tenants, and performing background checks become essential in an attempt to finding great tenants.

Simple tips for a long distance landlord include having a local team in place, using technology, and screening for great tenants. Today, landlords can be successful even when they do not live close to their rental property.

Tips to Make Tenant Life Easier

Tenant Life Easier
Online rent payment and keyless locks are tools to make tenant life easier.

Much has been written on ways to help landlords succeed. This blog post is not wholly different other than taking the view of how to help tenants. Happy tenants can make landlord lives easier. If there are tools to make tenant life easier, then it is a win win for both landlord and tenant. We’ll take a look at a few tips that are easy for landlords to implement with a long term goal of making tenant life easier.

Use Technology to Make Tenant Life Easier

Many tenants today consider the use of technology essential to daily living. When it comes to paying rent, tenants do not want to write and mail checks. In fact, many tenants may not even own a checkbook as all of their banking may be online. So online rent payment becomes a selling point when looking at properties to rent. Landlords have a lot of choice when it comes to finding the right online rent payment service. Services can vary by way of price, payment types, and benefits. For example, ClearNow’s online rent payment service not only makes paying rent easy and automatic, but it will furnish its rent payment data to Experian for tenants looking to build a credit history.

One of the basic applications of technology is communication. Many tenants have smartphones, which allow them to be accessible. Landlords who communicate via text or email make tenant life easier. Talking on the phone, mailing letters, and meeting in person are time consuming and slow.

Smartphones are powerful tools. Beyond the immediate provides of communication via text, phone, or email or information gathering from the Web, smartphones can be the key to your rental property. Literally. Landlords can install keyless locks on their rental property. With keyless locks, tenants do not have to keep track of a key. Depending on the type of lock, tenants can use a code or their smartphone to open and lock doors.

Something as simple as providing in unit clothing washers and dryers make tenant life easier without a doubt. Carrying around clothes – dirty or clean – is not fun. If dishwashers are becoming a standard appliance in rental properties, then why shouldn’t washers and dryers?

Landlord Tips for Eco Friendly Rentals

Landlord Tips Eco Friendly Rentals
Eco friendly rentals can help attract and retain tenants.

Successful landlords attract and retain good tenants. The tenant selection process can be time consuming. Time is money. Landlords win when they find great tenants and have low tenant turnover. This post will provide landlord tips for eco friendly rentals. Embracing green living can be important to certain tenants.

Reducing or eliminating paper altogether is an easy first step towards an eco friendly rental. For example, online rent payment eliminates checks, envelopes, and stamps. Furthermore, it makes rent payment and collection fast and efficient for both tenants and landlords. There are many online rent payment services available for landlords. Another easy way to go paperless is with electronic signatures. Landlords can have tenants sign leases electronically and save the environment because you do not need printers or paper.

Another landlord tip for eco friendly rentals is to provide recycling bins along with trash bins for tenants. Curbside bins make it easy to reuse or recycle and helps the environment.

Lastly, using energy efficient lighting and water saving fixtures are two more landlord tips for eco friendly rentals. For example, LED bulbs and toilets and faucets that use less water help with efforts towards environmental sustainability and attracting tenants where green living is important.

Using a Prepaid Card for Online Rent Payment

Prepaid Card
Tenants can use some prepaid cards for online rent payment.

When you are at the store and ready to check out, we sometimes hear the store employee ask, “Will you be paying by card?” In years past, “card” usually referred to “credit card”. Fast forward to present day, and now the definition of “card” is not so crystal clear. Mention of the word, “card”, could mean “credit card”, “debit card”, or “prepaid card”. Fortunately, many tenants can now use a prepaid card for online rent payment and discover its convenience.

Unlike debit cards, prepaid cards are not linked to a bank account. Instead, you deposit money into an account so that when you use the prepaid card, funds are deducted from that account. Credit cards allow you to pay for items by borrowing money. When you hear “payment on credit”, it usually refers to payment by way of a loan. You are obligated to pay charges made on your credit card within a period of time after the purchase. While different, all of the cards come with fees of some sort.

When it comes to online rent payment, not all services accept credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards. For example, ClearNow does not accept credit cards or debit cards, but it can debit some prepaid debit cards. Tenants wanting to use ClearNow with their prepaid debit card need to first check with their card company to ensure their card account can accept an ACH debit. If it can, then tenants may use their prepaid card for online rent payment with ClearNow.

Mobile Deposit Delays Rent Payment

mobile deposit delays rent payment
Mobile deposit delays are common with larger payments like rent

Mobile deposit would seem to be a great way to collect rent payment. After all, using your smart phone to take a picture of a rent check eliminates the need to go to your bank. By eliminating a trip to the bank, you save time. And time is money. Unfortunately, there are still downsides with depositing a check using your bank’s mobile app. One downside in particular is that mobile deposit of rent payment delays can be lengthy!

Bank of America explains the mobile deposit delay on their website:

Deposit holds typically range from 2-7 business days, depending on the reason for the hold. For deposits made on weekends, funds are considered deposited on Monday (the first business day), so the hold will go into effect the next business day (Tuesday).

Bank of America Website

Moreover, with mobile deposit, the delay is typically longer for larger amounts. A check of $100 will clear fairly quickly. However, with a larger check like rent payment, deposit delays are common and lengthier. It can be frustrating not knowing how long it will take for a check to be deposited and thus when the funds are ready for you to use.

Fortunately, alternatives to mobile deposit exist. Many landlords use online rent payment from a service like ClearNow (www.ClearNow.com). With ClearNow, rent payments deposit consistently in three business days. Moreover, a landlord does not have to scan the check. Payment occurs automatically without any need for a smartphone or your bank’s app. There are no checks to mail and no mail delays.

Great News for Online Rent Payment: Banks Removing Overdraft Fees

banks removing overdraft fees
Banks are removing overdraft fees. This is great news for tenants using online rent payment.

More and more banks are removing overdraft fees. Consumers have long hated the $30-$50 they would be charged by banks for overdraft. At ClearNow, we applaud this move by banks. We believe that tenants are much more likely to use online rent payment with expensive overdraft fees removed from the picture.

With ClearNow, landlords pay our online rent payment fees. Using ClearNow is free for tenants. In fact, tenants can build credit history by using our service. However, some tenants in the past have been scared to use online rent payment because – if they mistime their paycheck just once – they could incur hefty overdraft fees. Now with banks removing these fees, tenants benefit from online rent payment without the fear of this fee. Landlords benefit, too, when tenants use online rent payment. The rent collection process is easy and efficient – A win win for everyone!

In early 2022, Bank of America and Wells Fargo started removing or reducing their overdraft fees. When the largest banks do this, smaller banks and credit unions followed. Consumers win. At ClearNow, we believe this change will further encourage the use of online rent payment by tenants.

Benefits of Online Rent Payment Help Landlords and Tenants

Landlord Tenant Benefits
The benefits of online rent payment can reach landlords and tenants.

One of the biggest challenges with rental property is paying and collecting rent. Collecting rent from tenants is time consuming. If you receive payment by check or cash, you have to then find time to deposit it. This process becomes more laborious the as the number of properties you manage grows. ClearNow’s online rent payment service has tools that can make the rent process more manageable. Here are some ways where ClearNow’s benefits of online rent payment reach both landlord and tenant

Rent Payment on Autopilot

ClearNow makes it easier for tenants to pay rent online. Once set up, tenants just need to have sufficient funds in their bank account on their debit day. That’s it. They do not have to deal with checks, mail, or any interaction to pay rent with ClearNow. Similarly, landlords using ClearNow simply wait to receive rent payment directly into their bank account. ClearNow eliminates the time and expense related to picking up rent from tenants and depositing checks at the bank.

Build Credit History

The benefits of online rent payment extend to helping tenants build credit history. With ClearNow, tenants can build credit history by having their ClearNow rent payment data furnished to Experian RentBureau. The drive to build credit history encourages tenants to pay rent on time which in turn, benefit landlords. Landlords want to get paid on time.

The benefits of online rent payment with ClearNow are evident for landlords and tenants. While landlords get paid on time, tenants benefit in the process of building credit history while making the rent payment process easy.

Superior Solution to Mobile Check Deposit for Rent Payment

Mobile Check Deposit Rent Payment
Online rent payment is superior to mobile check deposit.

One of the conveniences of the smartphone revolution has been the introduction of “mobile check deposit“. With the help of an app, you can photograph a check for deposit while never leaving your home. For landlords and property managers, mobile check deposit for rent payment is an improvement over driving to the bank or ATM. It is convenient, but there are drawbacks making it not the best way for landlords to receive rent payment.

Downsides of Mobile Check Deposit

  1. Mobile deposit still relies on a paper check. Mailed checks take time to receive. In some cases, they get lost.
  2. Because mobile deposit is check-based, most banks put a hold on accessing funds until funds clear. In some cases, the first $200 may be available the next day, however, the delay can be much longer on larger amounts.
  3. Mobile check deposit for rent payment can still bounce. If the tenant does not have enough funds by the time you deposit the check, you will likely be charged an insufficient funds fee.

Online Rent Payment is the Superior Solution

Online rent payment eliminates paper. Rent payment is electronically withdrawn from the tenant’s bank account and then directly deposited to the landlord’s bank account. The beauty of online rent payment is that checks cannot get lost or delayed. Even if the landlord is on vacation, the deposit will still happen.

One of the oldest and most trusted online rent payment services is ClearNow. With ClearNow, landlords save time and collect rent faster. Rent is directly deposited three business days after the debit day. A landlord can enroll with ClearNow at www.ClearNow.com.

Redfin Article on Landlord Frauds and Scams

Redfin Tips to Avoid Landlord Fraud
Take a look at Redfin’s article on tips to avoid landlord fraud.

Making a large purchase can be a daunting experience. Naturally, you want to make sure the purchase is correct and legitimate. One of the largest expenses we face is for housing. So when it comes to renting a home, it is important to make sure you are renting to a legitimate landlord to avoid landlord frauds and scams.

With today’s technology, finding a place to rent is easy. For example, there are sites that can show you rentals available based on location and rent. You can peruse listings online at your leisure. In some cases with just a few clicks, you can schedule an appointment to view or even commit to a rental. While technology has made finding a rental easier, it has also, unfortunately, created opportunities for fraud. It is in these cases where spending the extra time and taking your time to research properties and landlords can be beneficial to you, especially in the long term.

Redfin asked ClearNow and other experts for tips on how to avoid landlord and rental fraud and has published them in their article: “Landlord Frauds and Scams: What to Watch Out For.”

ClearNow vs Venmo for Online Rent Payment

ClearNow vs Venmo
Among the options for online rent payment, ClearNow and Venmo are two.

Landlords have choice on how they want to collect rent. Cash and checks are still methods used today. More efficient methods like online rent payment can range from focused rent payment services to basic money transfer apps to full service property management software. There are pros and cons for each method, so landlords should consider things like fees and ease of use before committing. In this post, we will compare ClearNow to Venmo for online rent payment.

ClearNow for Online Rent Payment

ClearNow is a focused online rent payment service where payments are initiated by the landlord. Serving landlords and tenants since 2000, ClearNow directly deposits rent three banking days after the tenant’s debit day. For a monthly debit, ClearNow starts at $14.95/month. This fee includes the debit of one tenant. Additional tenants are $2/month.

Unique among all online rent payment services, ClearNow has an owner proceeds feature where property management companies can directly deposit tenant funds to the property owner’s bank account for just an additional $2/tenant.

In addition to online rent payment, ClearNow provides landlords with various reports including a Schedule E Helper report for tax time. With ClearNow, landlords can record income and expenses, screen tenants, and esign leases. In 2011, ClearNow was the first online rent payment service to allow tenants to report payments to Experian. So tenants can build a credit history with their ClearNow rent payments. Unlike other services, ClearNow provides telephone and email support, so you can talk with a person if you wish.

Venmo for Rent Payment

Venmo is similar to Zelle in that it is a money transfer app. Tenants can use Venmo to transfer rent payment directly to the landlord’s bank account. To send and receive funds via Venmo, tenants and landlords have to have the Venmo app. Unlike Zelle, Venmo does not require both parties to have a bank account that is part of a specified network of banks. Generally speaking, money transfers occur within minutes, even though it can take a few days for funds to clear. Venmo charges businesses who receive funds a transaction fee of 1.9% + $0.10 of the payment. This fee is a consideration for landlords who operate as a business entity.

One of the biggest considerations for landlords accepting Venmo for rent payment is the issue of partial payments. Because tenants initiate the Venmo payment, tenants may not pay rent in full thus making it difficult to recoup the full amount due or even evict if necessary. Some states prevent eviction if partial payments are made.

Summary of ClearNow vs Venmo for Online Rent Payment

ServicePros and Cons
ClearNow+ Focused online rent payment service
+ In business since 2000 with an “A+” BBB rating
+ $14.95/mo for one tenant. $2/mo each additional tenant. Rent payments received in 3 business days.
+ Reports for landlords such as Schedule E helper and P&L
+ Email and phone customer support
+ Tenants can build credit history for paying rent
+Automatic income & expense tracking for landlords
+ Enroll at www.ClearNow.com
Venmo+ General money transfer service
+ Landlord and tenant need to have the Venmo app
+ Tenants initiate payment and can make partial payments
+ Pricing is generally free. There is a transaction fee for businesses to receive funds.
+ No reports specifically for landlording activity
+ Set up account at Venmo.com or download the Venmo app