Twenty years of observing landlords while operating the ClearNow online rent payment service has taught us one powerful lesson. Good landlords screen their tenants. Even better, while in the past tenant screening was a slow and paper-based process, today’s online services make it easy to run a fast tenant credit check.
Tenant Credit Checks Protect the Landlord
As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While tenant screening is not foolproof, a credit report is an indicator of the past financial habits of an individual. For many landlords, their biggest mistake was renting to a tenant that was not qualified and having to deal with an eviction.
Online Tenant Screening is Fast
In the past, running a fast credit check on a tenant was not possible. Now however, the process is lightning quick. With a service like ClearNow SmartMove, the process is as fast as email:
Having your tenants pay rent via their bank bill payment system seems high tech. Unfortunately, the dirty secret of bank bill pay for rent payment is that it is the opposite of the high tech wonder it seems. Unless you are a large corporation, bank bill payment typically just creates a paper check that is mailed to you. As a result, landlords who collect rent via bank bill pay encounter some distinctly low tech issues.
The Check is Still in The Mail
When your tenants wrote checks to you, did it ever get ‘lost in the mail’? Mail delays and undelivered mail can still exist if your tenants use their bank’s bill payment service. For anyone except large corporations, the bill payment service simply prints out and mails checks at a central facility based on your tenant’s online bill payment instructions.
Given this process, you still need to be around to collect, sign, and deposit your check. Further, if checks are mailed to you, you can not deposit the check if you are on vacation or out of town and the check is sitting in your mailbox.
Recordkeeping and Credit Reporting are Missing
When a tenant sends you a rent payment via their bank bill pay, you have to record the payment. Additionally, the tenant does not have the ability to build their credit history by paying rent via bank bill pay.
In contrast, there is another popular method for rent collection – “online rent payment”. Unlike bank bill pay, online rent payment does not involve paper checks – just real electronic transfers. There are no paper checks to get lost in the mail or sit in a mailbox waiting to be deposited. Further, with a popular online rent payment service like ClearNow (sign up at www.ClearNow.com), you have great recordkeeping and reporting and your tenants can build credit history when they pay you rent on time.
Cozy is going away. What is a good online rent payment service replacement?
Cozy is a popular online rent payment service. As of July 2021, their homepage indicates that they are going away. It states “Cozy will be saying goodbye July 28, 2021”. So for current Cozy customers, what is a good replacement service?
Apartments.com Is Not Quite the Same as a Cozy Replacement
The Cozy homepage pitches transitioning to Apartments.com. However, it turns out that the transition means a reduction in features.
Other Online Rent Payment Services Are Good Replacements
Fortunately, there are other online rent payment services that are superior to Cozy. For example, ClearNow (www.ClearNow.com) has been around for more than twenty years. ClearNow allows online rent payment for commercial tenants. And tenants using ClearNow can report their rent payments to Experian. Instead of the bait-and-switch pricing of some services, ClearNow customers pay a flat fee of $14.95/mo for their first tenant and $2/mo for each additional tenant.
Unfortunately for landlords, many online rent payment services do not allow the owners of commercial property to use their service. Often, landlords discover this only in the fine print. Fortunately however, services like ClearNow (www.ClearNow.com) permit their customers to process rents automatically for a commercial property.
Many Online Rent Payment Services Only Support Residential Property
The number of residential properties outnumber the number of commercial properties. For this reason, most online rent payment services focus only on residential customers. For example:
Find an Online Rent Payment Service for Commercial Properties
Do not despair! As a matter of fact, there are online rent payment services for landlords with commercial properties. One of them, ClearNow, allows commercial rents as long as they are lower than $10,000/mo. While ClearNow requires a business owner to sign up in their own personal name, they can submit bank account information for their business. Online rent payment is a win win for landlords and their commercial tenants.
Landlords rely on tenants for income. So for landlords to collect rent on time, they need to make paying the rent easy. Here are a few simple things landlords can do to ensure they get paid . . . on time:
Provide Convenient Payment Options
Traditionally, rent is paid on the first of every month. Not all tenants get paid around that time, which makes it harder to pay rent on time. Landlords willing to accept rent payment on a different schedule can increase the odds to collect rent on time. For example, if a tenant gets paid every two weeks, then collecting rent aligned with the tenant’s paydays creates a win win for everyone. Another convenient payment option is online rent payment. Here, tenants do not need to remember to write and mail a check, which takes time and advanced planning. Instead, rent is automatically withdrawn on the agreed upon payment day. Landlords benefit by having the funds directly deposited and eliminating a trip to the bank. An online rent payment service like ClearNow provides a choice of debit days that satisfy the needs for both landlord and tenant.
Anything to reward on time payment increases the chances to collect rent on time. Reducing the rent by a certain amount if the tenant pays earlier than the due date can be an incentive. Additionally, landlords who use certain online rent payment services like ClearNow and RentPayment can help tenants build a credit history by furnishing on time payments to the credit bureaus.
Property management companies must attract and retain rental property owners. Without owners as customers, there is no property management business. How property managers can attract rental property owners does not have to be difficult. Here are some simple and easy to implement tips:
Property managers who stand out from the competition attract attention. If you provide value and make the lives of rental property owners easier, you can win business. For instance, property managers using ClearNow’s owner proceeds is a strong selling point. This feature enables property managers to directly deposit rent to the owner’s bank account at the same time managers receive rent from tenants. This online rent payment delivers funds faster. Rental property owners want to receive funds as quickly as possible. Finally, property managers can also attract rental property owners by helping them find other investment property. Property managers who do the research and provide owners with a list of investment leads save owners time and create value.
Seek Customer Referrals
One of the easiest and most effective marketing strategies is to ask existing customers for referrals. There is a good chance rental property owners know other owners. If you provide value, your customers will tell owners how effective you are with managing their rental property. Additionally, property managers can also find customer leads in local real estate clubs. Members of these types of organizations include rental property owners, which is the property manager’s target audience! While some club members self-manage, others are probably looking to hand off the task of management.
In conclusion, providing value and seeking customer referrals are just a few tips on how property managers can build business and grow revenue.
In today’s mainly paperless world, online rent payment has almost made rent payment by check, cash, and money order extinct. Instead, payment by ACH and credit card have become more popular mainly because they are convenient payment methods. Between the two, we’ll look at the pros and cons of paying by credit card.
Convenient: You don’t have to go through the trouble of writing and mailing a check. If you can pay rent by credit card, you’ll provide your card information over the phone, online, or in person. The effort is minimal.
Rewarding: Most credit cards today are tied to rewards. Such rewards can appear in the form of cash back or points. Every time you use your credit card whether it be for merchandise or online rent payment, you earn rewards.
Access: Many landlords do not accept credit card payments mainly due to the high cost that credit card companies charge. So tenants need to find landlords willing to accept credit cards for rent payment. If you can’t find a landlord willing to accept credit cards, then find one who will still accept online rent payment by way of an ACH debit (direct transfer from bank account to bank account). An online rent payment service like ClearNow is beneficial for landlords and tenants who want to do ACH debits.
Fees: Once you find landlords willing to receive rent payment by credit card, be prepared to pay a fee. Most credit cards charge based on a percentage (usually 2% to 3%) of the amount charged making it quite expensive. For example, a $1000 rent payment can realize $20 to $30 in fees.
One of the many tasks of landlords is to fill vacancies. If you can fill vacancies quickly, then that is a win for you. Factors such as location, rent amount, and amenities can affect how quickly you can fill your rental property. If you want to attract grads to your rental property, here are some tips to help close the deal.
Be Tech Friendly
Recent grads, also known as graduates or millennials, are very comfortable with technology and as a result, expect it to be an active part of their lives. You can start attracting grads as applicants with online advertising of your rental property. Zillow is one of the most popular places you can advertise. Additionally, online rent payment would be expected to attract grads to your rental property. Long standing services like ClearNow make online rent payment very easy for landlords and tenants. Taking the hassle out and making the payment process easy is attractive. And if you use ClearNow for online rent payment, your millennial tenants can build a credit history by having their payment data furnished to Experian.
Feature Great Amenities to Attract Grads to Your Rental Property
Great amenities can attract all tenants, even graduates. Here are some that are easy to implement:
1. Provide reliable and wide-ranging wifi. Easily accessing the web from every space of your rental property is attractive and reduces frustration.
2. Make your rental property pet friendly. Many millennials have pets; therefore, allowing pets may fill your vacancy faster. A financial benefit for you is the additional rent or fee you require for housing a pet.
3. Create social spaces. Outdoor fire pits and grilling areas are great social spaces for tenants. Having a dedicated place to entertain can be a strong renting point.
There are simple steps you can take to attract grads to your rental property. As a result of understanding their needs, you make filling vacancies that much easier.
Landlording can be a time consuming job. Responsibilities such as screening tenants, signing leases, collecting rent, and maintaining properties take time and effort. Tools that make landlord lives easier become more important because they can save time. Saving time is like saving money. Here is a glance at some tools that every landlord should use.
Online Rent Payment
To really save time and eliminate headaches, landlords should collect rent online. Collecting rent by check, depositing the check, and waiting for funds to clear are time consuming and inconvenient tasks for everyone involved. With so many choices today, landlords can easily find an online rent payment service and be up and running quickly and with little effort. For example, ClearNow has been serving landlords and tenants since 2000 making the entire rent payment and collection process efficient and easy. Tenants benefit from online rent payment, too, as they just need to have funds in their bank account. No other effort required!
When it comes to leases or any document that needs a signature, landlords should use an esignature service. With esignatures, you eliminate the need for printers, paper, and time to meet. Electronic signatures come in especially handy when multiple people need to sign a lease, like in a roommate situation. Each party can sign on their own device at their own convenience. Once signed , everyone gets a copy of the lease. Similar to online rent payment services, there are a lot of esignature services today. eSignToday is an affordable esignature service that charges a flat fee of $0.50 per signature. DocuSign is a service that charges on a monthly fee and caters to those who need frequent signatures.
The list of tools that make landlord lives easier can be lengthy. While we have touched on just a few here, know there are many more available to save landlords time and eliminate headaches.
Having vacancies with rental property is a cash flow killer for landlords. Finding ways to decrease tenant turnover help minimize revenue loss as well as the time and expense of preparing property for a new tenant. There are simple things landlords can do to keep tenants and thus keep business running.
Find Quality Tenants to Decrease Tenant Turnover
During the tenant application process, tenant screening becomes a critical component to finding quality tenants. Quality tenants will not guarantee but can increase the chances that rent is paid and rent is paid on time. There are various tenant screening services available for landlords to choose from. Taking the time during the application process and screening tenants will help reduce tenant turnover.
Sign Longer Term Lease
If tenants can commit to a longer term lease, then landlords do not have to face frequent turnover. In exchange for a longer term lease, tenants can try to keep the rent at the same amount for a longer period of time. A longer term lease can be a win win for both landlord and tenant.
Maintain Good Relationships
Good relationships make life easier. Having good communication and understanding between landlord and tenant can go a long way. Tenants may be encouraged to renew leases or tell friends about other properties the landlord may have. Word of mouth referrals are one of the most effective marketing strategies.
In addition to good communication, landlords can provide services that make a tenant’s life easier and thus decrease tenant turnover. For example, online rent payment with ClearNow can put the headache of paying rent on time on autopilot. Additionally, in unit washers and dryers are hard to compete with units missing such luxury.
Finding quality tenants, signing a longer term lease, and maintaining good relationships are easy ways to decrease tenant turnover.