How to do ACH Rent Payments

ACH Rent Payments
ACH Rent Payments are safe, convenient, and inexpensive

The ACH network is the most widely used, bank-based electronic funds transfer network in the United States. Millions of employees receive their salaries through ‘direct deposit’ via the ACH payment network. The ACH network does not charge a percentage of each transaction amount like credit cards. Instead, the ACH network charges a small fixed fee for each payment made. The ACH network is safe, reliable, and inexpensive. These attributes make ACH rent payments a great payment method for landlords and their tenants.

ACH Rent Payment is Safe

Using the ACH payment network, property managers schedule rent payment so that funds move automatically from a tenant’s checking account to the property’s checking account. Federal Regulation E (the Electronic Funds Transfer Act of 1978) safeguards consumers against the inappropriate movement of funds from their account.

Easy To Use Web-Based Rent Payments

Traditionally, using the ACH payment network meant learning ACH software and transferring files back and forth to an ACH processor (a bank or a company specializing in ACH processing). Fortunately, Web-based solutions make ACH rent payments easier to setup than ever before. ClearNow is one of the oldest (since 2000) and most well-reviewed (perfect BBB rating) ACH rent payment service.

Online Rent Payment and Roommates

Online rent payment and roommates
Online rent payment makes roommate situations easy when paying rent.

Landlords and tenants want a fast and easy way to collect and pay rent. Online rent payment is the answer for both parties. In roommate situations, landlords may require a single payment or permit each roommate to pay their pre-determined portion. Paying rent electronically makes roommate situations super easy.

One Roommate Pays for All

Some landlords require full payment of rent from a single person in a roommate situation. By collecting rent from one person, the landlord increases her chances of getting paid in full. She also saves time on hunting down the remaining rent payment from various roommates. Online rent collection is still the easiest method for collecting and paying rent even if just from one tenant. ClearNow and many other online rent payment services cater to landlords with roommate situations.

Each Roommate Pays Individually

Landlords who permit each roommate to pay their pre-determined portion of rent from their own bank account eliminates the “middle person”. That “middle person” is not only the roommate who makes the rent payment in full from her own bank account but also the roommate who has to make sure each roommate has paid her. When each roommate pays individually, they just need to make sure they have enough funds to make their payment successful every month. Each online rent payment service has different features on how they handle roommates and payments.

Whether you have each roommate pay individually or a designated roommate pays for everyone, collecting and paying rent online makes the entire process fast and easy!

The Convenience of Online Rent Payment

Convenience of online rent payment
Landlords and tenants benefit from the convenience of online rent payment.

Online rent payment (also known as online rent collection) is a method that uses technology to pay and receive rent electronically. There is no paper involved with online rent payment, whether it be in the form of cash, check, or money order. Instead, rent is paid and collected by paperless methods like credit cards or by electronic withdrawals from and deposits to a bank account. With today’s modern technology, landlords and tenants benefit from the convenience of online rent payment, which saves time and improves communication.

Saves Time

For landlords, online rent payment eliminates any trip to the bank to deposit rent as rent is directly deposited to the landlord’s bank account. Online rent payment can also streamline the bookkeeping process. Depending on how landlords track rental income and expenses, some online rent payment services, like ClearNow, have landlord accounting built in such that rent payments are automatically recorded in the books saving the landlord even more time.

For tenants, online rent payment eliminates the need to write a check and mail it or visit the leasing office to drop off rent. Additionally, tenants do not need to schedule payment, as some online rent payment services will automatically debit tenant bank accounts on a recurring basis for the lease term.

Improves Communication

Most online rent payment services provide a range of communication beneficial for landlords and tenants. Examples include rent reminders for tenants to prepare for upcoming withdrawals, emails for landlords of failed tenant payments, and payment histories for both. Such communication and transparency enhances the landlord/tenant relationship and off loads this task making online rent payment convenient.

According to Yahoo, the overall trend of online payments is increasing in popularity. In the past, setting up online rent collection was challenging. Today, there are a number of online rent payment services to support landlords and tenants creating convenience for both parties.

Getting Tenants to Pay Rent Online

Getting Tenants To Pay Rent Online
Tenants Often Find that They Love the Ability to Pay Rent Online

Landlords love getting paid rent automatically. Online rent payment is a no brainer; it saves you time and encourages tenants to pay rent on time. But, what can landlords do to get tenants to pay rent online?

In ClearNow’s experience, tenants are most open to signing up for online rent payment when they sign or renew a lease.

In some cases, you will need to convince your tenants to sign up for online rent payment. Fortunately, tenants who pay rent online can look forward to many benefits:

Paying Rent Online Is Secure

We all tend to be a little hesitant to making change. For tenants who are used to paying rent via check, an automatic debit to their bank account can be scary.

Thankfully, online rent payment services tend to be even more secure than paying by check. With ClearNow, for example, the landlord never sees your bank account number (in the check world, this number is on every check).

Moreover, with a service like ClearNow, a tenant can contact an independent third party and stop payments if there is ever a dispute.

Online Rent Payment is Convenient

We’ve all learned from online shopping with Amazon that saving time is super nice. For tenants, never having to write or drop off a check saves time and effort!

Even compared to something like PayPal, with ClearNow online rent payment, tenants receive an email notice each month eight days ahead of time that rent will be debited – there is nothing to log into and schedule.

Pay Rent Online To Build Credit History

Most tenants do not realize that they can build credit history by paying rent online! ClearNow has offered this feature since 2011 -at no charge to the tenant. A good credit history is so important in the modern world. For example, it can lead to lower loan costs and a healthier employment background profile.

Tenants Benefit from Paying Rent Online

Next time you are preparing a new lease or lease extension, let your tenants know that you would like them to pay rent online. With a service like ClearNow, tenants can enjoy the safety, convenience, and credit building of online rent payment.

Hiring a Property Management Company to Collect Rent and More

Landlording can be an exciting adventure for some. It involves building a business to collect rent payment and generate income while providing housing to customers (tenants). Some landlords prefer to do everything on their own, and some prefer to take a more hands off approach and hire a property management company to do it all. And then there are some landlords that want to control some aspects of the business – like filling vacancies – while turning over other responsibilities – like maintenance and rent collection – to a property management company. In any event, hiring a property management company comes at a cost as they charge fees for their services. We’ll take a look at some landlording responsibilities and the pros and cons of doing it yourself or hiring a property management company.

Collecting Rent

As a landlord, there is nothing more important than getting paid through consistent on-time rent collection.

ProsCons
DIY+Know your tenant
+Use online rent payment services like ClearNow & Cozy to simplify process
-Deal with delinquent tenants
-Need to understand eviction process
Hire Property Management Company+Enforce lease policies for late or unpaid rent
+Use online rent payment services like ClearNow & Buildium to directly deposit owner proceeds
Pay property management fee typically as a % of rent collected

Screening Tenants

Finding a tenant that will pay rent on time and keep your property in good condition takes time, so screening tenants becomes an important task.

ProsCons
DIY+Easy to screen without a site inspection
+Credit & eviction reports help eliminate guesswork
-Potential lack of experience with the application and screening process
-Need to develop tenant onboarding method
Hire Property Management Company+Trained eyes to spot good tenant qualities & red flags
+Established process from application to screening to lease signing
– Pay property management fee

Advertising/Listing Properties

Before you can collect rent payment, you have to fill your vacancy. In addition to tenant screening, knowing where and how to place your ads are important tasks to finding the right tenant.

ProsCons
DIY+Easy to list vacancy online with high-traffic websites like Zillow & Trulia.
+Some rental property accounting software like Rentec Direct and Buildium includes listing features
-Need to manage inquiries and property visits
Hire Property Management Company+Expertise at rental marketing to fill vacancies quickly
+Have local real estate knowledge to help set competitive rents
-Pay property management fee

Final Considerations

Hiring a property management company to collect rent, screen tenants, advertise vacancies, and more will likely be based on finding a balance among effort, time, and money. If you can afford the expense of a property management company to free up time and reduce headaches, then that is a win for both parties. At the same time, many of today’s landlord resources have features that benefit both the property manager and owner, like ClearNow’s owner proceeds. As a landlord, you have choice to make the decision easier of whether or not to hire a property management company for your landlording needs.

Mobile Deposit and Rent Checks

One of the satisfying conveniences of the smartphone revolution has been the introduction of “mobile deposit” (using an app to take a picture of a check and deposit it). For landlords and property managers, mobile deposit of rent checks is a big improvement over driving to a bank branch or ATM. But, is the mobile deposit of rent checks the best way for a landlord to receive rent payments? Often there are significant drawbacks with mobile deposit that are overlooked.

The downsides of the mobile deposit of rent checks:

  1. Mobile deposit is still based on receiving a paper check – typically by USPS mail – and this can mean delays and lost checks. The dirty little secret of bank online bill payment is that it is still based on sending checks to landlords and property managers. Only the largest bill payment recipients, like utility companies, get paid electronically. This means most landlords whose tenants use bank online bill payment are still receiving checks. And, mail can get lost or delayed.
  2. Mobile deposit of rent checks often have a hold period or delay. Different banks put different “holds” on access to funds that are mobile deposited. While the first $200 must be available the next day, sometimes the delay on larger amounts can be many business days.
  3. Mobile deposit of rent checks 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 (NSF) (often between $27 to $35). Even if the tenant had sufficient funds when the check was created, due to other withdrawals, the tenant may have insufficient funds by the time you deposit a check.

A more advanced method of collecting rent from tenants is “online rent payment“. With online rent payment, there is no paper rent check – payments go directly from a tenant’s bank account to the landlord’s bank account. The beauty of online rent payment services is that there’s no checks in the mail to get delayed or lost. Even if the landlord is on an extended vacation (everyone’s wish!), the deposit will occur.

One of the oldest and most trusted online rent payment services is ClearNow. For a small monthly fee relative to the rent collected, landlords save time, collect rent faster (in 3 business days the funds are usable), and issues with lost or delayed mail are a distant memory. A landlord can enroll with ClearNow at www.ClearNow.com.

4 Ways That Using ClearNow Can Help Landlords and Tenants

Managing rental property is harder than many people realize when they first start leasing their properties. Besides the challenges that come with maintaining the property, collecting rent can become a real time sink. Collecting rent from tenants and depositing it into bank accounts becomes more laborious the more properties or units you manage. ClearNow has tools that can make these processes more manageable. Here are four ways that ClearNow can help landlords and tenants

Setup a Payment Portal for Collecting Rent Online

Getting rent payment from a tenant can be surprisingly problematic. When people pay by check, some checks will get lost in the mail, which slows down payment receipt. You have to wait for the tenant to send a new payment or travel to pick up the rent in person. ClearNow makes it easier for tenants to pay rent online. With ClearNow, you get the service you need without having to run your own secure website for financial transactions. ClearNow has provided online rent payment since 2000 while maintaining a perfect BBB rating. Our system works for any property, whether you have one rental unit or a hundred thousand.

Provide Customer Service

Using ClearNow for collecting rent also provides additional benefits. For example, landlords have access to tenant screening that will help them find good tenants and fill vacancies. Additionally, many online rent payment services do not have phone support. It’s good practice to offer some technical support for tenants who may not be comfortable with computers or the internet. With ClearNow, tenants can call with questions Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm ET. If your tenants are having trouble setting up their account or have other issues, we’re here to help.

Ensure Landlords Get Paid on Time

For many property owners, it’s essential they get their rent payments promptly. Landlords may rely on rent to pay expenses related to property management. When you use ClearNow, rent is always directly deposited three banking days after the debit day. Each ClearNow account debits on a specific day and credits to a specific bank account. ClearNow fees are based on your debit day and are only charged when you attempt to debit a tenant. This way, property owners who only need a single monthly deposit pay less than larger management companies that need debits more often.

Improve the Credit Score of Your Tenants

Getting tenants to switch to online payments is easy with the intrinsic benefits of using ClearNow. When using ClearNow to pay rent, tenants can build their credit history by paying their bills. Tenants can establish credit history by having ClearNow furnish data to Experian RentBureau. The rental data from Experian is updated every 24 hours, so every on-time payment helps your tenant. As Experian explains, “This quick turnaround and robust data impacts every point of decision making – from identifying higher-quality residents and improving bad-debt recovery to streamlining the collections process.”

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to using ClearNow for online rent payment. If you want to spend less time collecting and processing rent, while providing excellent features to your tenant, start using ClearNow today.