The Best Way to Collect Rent as a Landlord

Explore the best ways to collect rent as a landlord, from in-person methods to innovative online solutions. Enhance efficiency, reduce late payments, and ensure a smooth rental experience.

By
Nichole Stohler
|
Last Updated
August 25, 2023
The Best Way to Collect Rent as a Landlord

Are you a landlord looking for the best methods to collect rent payments from your tenants?

Collecting rent on time and efficiently helps you maintain a steady income and keeps your properties running smoothly. The best rent collection methods can reduce late payments and improve money management.

Discover the most effective methods for your rental business and create a positive experience for you and your tenants. Without further ado, let's explore the different approaches for collecting rent!

Different ways to collect rent payments

Let's start with an overview of the most common ways landlords collect payments today, including:

In-person rent collection

Some landlords personally collect rent. They either visit the rental property or have tenants bring payments to their office. This approach presents some issues that can harm your business.

Scheduling and coordinating these meetings can be difficult, and tenants' availability can cause delays in rent collection. Also, dealing with cash can be inconvenient and time-consuming, especially when handling many transactions and multiple accounts.

Another factor to consider when collecting cash payments in person is security: there's a risk of theft or losing the money.

Collect rent by mail

Rent collection via mail involves tenants sending rental payment checks through the postal service. Paying rent via mail provides convenience and eliminates the need for monthly in-person visits.

There are several drawbacks to this method, however. First is the potential for payment delays or lost mail. Another is that tenants need to remember to mail their payments on time.

Online rent payments

Online rent collection allows tenants to pay their rent electronically through various online platforms, providing convenience and reliability. This is a practical, reliable, and secure way to streamline the online rent payment service collection process.

Options for collecting online rent payments

There are five popular methods for collecting rent online:

These options allow tenants to transfer money directly to their landlord's account using bank accounts or credit cards.

Property management software

Using an online rent collection platform like Azibo allows for secure, easy management and tracking of rental payments, reducing the need for manual collection and minimizing potential delays. Online rent collection is free for landlords and integrates with Azibo's all-in-one solution for managing rental property finances.

With features like banking integration, expense management, and accounting tools, this approach simplifies rental property financial management by eliminating the need for multiple platforms and tools.

Payment applications

You can collect online payments via apps like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, Apple Pay, or Google Pay. These services simplify rent collection, giving you instant notifications and quick access to the collected rent with a few taps on your smartphone.

One issue with this method is that payment apps may come with fees. Some apps charge extra for certain transactions, like using a credit card. These apps also make it difficult to track rent payment status and income and expense transactions for tax purposes.

Money transfer platforms

Money transfer platforms allow tenants to quickly transfer money from their bank accounts to the landlord's checking account, providing a hassle-free payment process. The key benefits of using money transfer platforms include:

  • Quick and secure transactions.
  • The ability to set up recurring payments.
  • The option for tenants to make instant transfers.

However, some money transfer platforms may charge transaction fees.

Direct deposit

Setting up automated payments and direct deposits with a tenant's bank account is another efficient way landlords collect rent. This approach automatically transfers rent from the tenant's bank account to the landlord's bank account on a specified monthly date, avoiding late fees.

There are risks associated with using direct deposit for rent payments. The main risk is that tenants might make mistakes when paying, such as entering incorrect account information or having insufficient funds. This can cause delays or failed transactions.

Automated clearing house (ACH)

ACH payments are electronic transfers that allow you to process rent collection on time from the tenant's bank account. This method provides security, reduces the risk of bounced checks, and streamlines the process for both parties involved. You can set up recurring payments on ACH for a consistent rent collection method.

ACH payments operate under National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) governance and follow standardized rules and regulations to facilitate the smooth flow of transactions.

This method of payment is reliable, efficient, and secure. 

Determining the best rent collection option for you

When deciding how to collect rent as a landlord, there are a few important things to consider. First, consider if you're comfortable using technology and online platforms. If you are, options like leveraging your property management software or ACH payments can be good choices.

Next, think about what your tenants prefer. If most of them like to pay online for payments, offering that option makes sense. Make sure the payment method you choose is available to all your tenants. Also, consider any costs involved. Keep in mind that some methods charge fees or require additional services.

Finally, think about security and record-keeping. Look for methods that offer secure transactions and easy tracking of payments.

Setting expectations in your lease

Clearly outline your rent payment and collection expectations in your lease agreement. This helps establish clear communication between you and your tenants up front to avoid misunderstandings or disputes down the line. Areas to cover around rent payment include:

  • Specify the rent cost and due date.
  • Clearly state acceptable payment methods (online platforms, ACH, or direct deposits).
  • Include information about late fees or penalties for missed or delayed rent payments.
  • Indicate how rent increases will be communicated and implemented.
  • Incorporate clauses regarding non-payment of rent and eviction, stating consequences for repeated non-payment.

Policies to collect rent payments online

Establish clear policies around online rent payment services for a smooth and efficient process. Here are some guidelines to consider:

Preferred online payment method

Specify the preferred online payment method(s) tenants should use to submit their rent payments. This could include online payment portals, apps, ACH, or direct deposit. Providing specific instructions makes it easier for tenants to understand how to pay.

Payment due date

Clearly define the due date for rent payments. This helps tenants know when their payment is expected. Communicating the due date aids in timely rent collection and prevents any misunderstandings or delays in payments.

Late payment policy

Create a policy for late rent payments. Clearly define the grace period, if any, and specify the applied penalties or late fees. This encourages tenants to pay on time and indicates that there are consequences for delayed payments.

Accepted forms of payment

Outline the acceptable forms of payment for rent collection. This may include specifying whether you accept rent payments via credit or debit card or bank transfer. Be clear about any transaction fees associated with specific payment methods.

Payment confirmation

Communicate how tenants will receive confirmation of their rent payment. This could be an automated email receipt, a confirmation message through the payment platform, or any other method that provides tenants with proof of payment.

Privacy and Security

Highlight the significance of privacy and security when you collect online rent payments. Assure tenants that you will safeguard their personal and financial information, and explain the security measures you have in place, such as encryption or secure payment gateways.

Communication channels

Specify the preferred method of communication for any rent payment-related queries or concerns. This could be via email, phone, or a designated online portal. By clearly stating the communication channels, you streamline the process and make sure that both parties are on the same page.

Collecting rent payments

With digital tools and online payment systems, collecting rent becomes super easy. Modern rent collection software tools simplify the process, reduce administrative work, and help build relationships with tenants.

Consider your requirements, the size of your rental properties, and your tenants' preferences to find the method of collecting rent that works best for you. Collecting rent online helps your rental business become more efficient and convenient and provides a smoother experience for you and your tenants.

Ways to collect and pay rent FAQs

Do online rent payments collected get reported to the IRS?

Yes, rent payment collection via online services like Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle is subject to reporting to the IRS. The IRS considers rent payments as taxable income and requires proper reporting. Landlords must report rental income exceeding $600 through a 1099 form.

What is the safest method to collect rent online?

One of the safest ways many landlords have to collect rent is via bank transfers or Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments. This method involves tenants transferring funds directly from their bank account to the landlord's account.

Landlords and tenants can use bank transfers as a secure and traceable way to receive payments without relying on third-party online payment processing services or apps.

Can I use Zelle to collect rent?

Yes, you can use Zelle to collect rent. Zelle is a popular way to easily and quickly both send money and receive money. It's convenient for landlords and tenants.

There are a couple of drawbacks to Zelle to keep in mind. Firstly, your bank or credit union might add fees for using it. And secondly, once you make a payment on Zelle, you can't undo it. So, if there's a problem with the rent payment, it might be tricky to sort it out using Zelle. It's also difficult to track rent payments throughout the year or for multiple properties on Zelle, which complicates things during tax season.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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