Which Online Rent Collection Tool Works for Your Business?

 Post by Azibo Team on June 14, 2021

Ready to modernize your rent collection process? We compare some of the most popular online rent collection tools.

Waiting for checks to arrive in the mail. Wondering whether tenants will forget their first-day-of-the-month payment — again. Wishing there were a better way to collect rent. 

As a landlord, you’re no stranger to the above scenarios. Fortunately, modern rent collection software is made to combat these common challenges for rental property owners. As an innovative alternative to old-school methods, online rent collection tools dramatically enhance the landlord experience — reducing the risk of late payments, increasing transparency between tenants and landlords, and mitigating the pain points of rent collection.

Built to benefit landlords and renters alike, well-designed rent collection software is secure, convenient, and stress-free. Instead of relying on paper checks and the postal system, tenants using a rent collection tool like Azibo can choose from a variety of flexible payment options (e.g., bank transfer, debit card, and even credit card), then send their rent with the click of a button. 

Automated payment options and notifications ease the rent collection process even further, preventing payments from slipping through the cracks — and preserving peace of mind. Instead of wondering when rent checks will arrive in the mail, landlords on Azibo can monitor tenants’ payment status at any time, gaining instant insights from their phone, tablet, or computer. 

Ready to modernize your rent collection process? Read on to compare several of the most popular online rent collection tools and pinpoint the one that best suits your specific needs. 

Rent collection software: Four key factors to consider

When comparing different rent collection tools for landlord, you’ll want to keep the following considerations in mind:

Cost

First things first, ask yourself: Is this a free platform, or will I be charged a monthly or annual subscription fee? Online rent collection tools range widely in this category, with some platforms costing landlords no money at all and others as high as $280 per month or more. 

Tenant payment options

Offering a variety of payment methods increases the odds that tenants will pay rent every month. Which platform provides tenants with the greatest flexibility? No two tenants’ financial situations are the same, so your best bet is to find a tool that accommodates multiple payment methods including electronic bank transfer, debit card, credit card, and paper checks. Remember that you won’t be the only one using the rent collection software — if tenants don’t have a good experience, they will stop using it. 

Accounting and bookkeeping tools

Some platforms — like peer-to-peer payment services — don’t necessarily offer any landlord-specific tools. Others are designed with landlords in mind and boast an array of real estate and tax features to make your life easier when it comes to accounting, expense management, and taxes. 

Complementary products and services

Beyond streamlining the rent collection process, what else is your chosen platform capable of? Some tools, like Azibo, offer operational and security deposit bank accounts designed for landlords, while others are much more limited in their offerings. Carefully consider all of the available features before making your choice. 

6 top online rent collection tools

Ready to narrow down your options? Here are six of the most popular tools for landlords, including pros and cons for each, as well as unique features to consider.

Azibo

Benefits: As a free, all-in-one platform for landlord finances, Azibo offers far more financial tools than just rent collection — from comprehensive banking and expense management to insurance and mortgage solutions. It also has one of the fastest payment deposit times compared to peer online rent collection platforms — with rent payments arriving in your account in just 2-3 business days. Azibo also offers business checking accounts designed specifically for landlords, where you can earn 3.75X the national average interest rate with no monthly fees and no minimum balance. Azibo also simplifies tax preparation by helping landlords tag expenses by Schedule E category and assign them to specific properties. And yes, Azibo really is free for landlords. Renters who choose to pay rent with a credit card are charged a 2.99% processing fee. 

Considerations: While Azibo boasts an ample array of landlord financial tools for free, it doesn’t directly offer some of the services provided by other property management solutions. For example, Azibo’s platform does not include property inspection, vacancy advertising, or lease creation and renewals. However, landlords and renters using Azibo can access exclusive offers for real estate services through partners listed in the Azibo Marketplace — including property management, tenant screening, renters insurance, and more. 

Peer-to-peer payment services (PayPal, Venmo, Zelle)

Benefits: Many people are already familiar with these free platforms even if they haven’t used them to pay rent before, so there shouldn’t be much of a learning curve for tenants.

Considerations: If you want a platform specifically tailored to real estate investors, look elsewhere. Peer-to-peer payment services weren’t designed for landlords, so they lack or significantly limit features around automation, tax prep, and bookkeeping. Importantly, if there is a problem with a payment or a scam, peer-to-peer services offer little to no protection for sellers and buyers. In addition, these platforms have weekly or monthly payment limits (e.g., Venmo maxes out at about $5,000 per week, many Zelle banks cap at $5,000 per month), which may impact your higher-rent or commercial renters, or tenants who use peer-to-peer payment services for other expenses. Finally, if you create a "business profile" to use these platforms for your rental business, you'll incur additional fees. For example, Venmo charges sellers 1.9% + $0.10 for every payment — so if your renter sends you $100, you'd only receive $98. 

Cozy

Benefits: Cozy provides online rent collection as well as rental applications, tenant screening, lease creation, vacancy advertising, and dashboards and other organizational tools for landlords. Like Azibo, Cozy is free for landlords — or you can pay $2.99 per month per unit to receive your funds faster (in 3 business days). Renters must pay for background checks and credit reports ($24.99 individually or $39.99 when purchased as a bundle), and a 2.75% processing fee for rent payments made on credit cards, 

Considerations: In 2018, Cozy was acquired by the holding company that owns rental listings website Apartments.com and announced they will be transitioning their customers to the Apartments.com platform — which does not support commercial or non-residential landlords — in mid-2021. While this means access to new features like e-signatures, users may experience some growing pains in the transition. In addition, Apartments.com is not free for landlords managing more than 20 units. Finally, Cozy’s 5 business day turnaround time for bank transfers is the slowest of these popular platforms — so if getting your funds quickly is a particularly important factor, you may prefer another option.

Buildium

Benefits: Well-suited for larger real estate investors, Buildium offers an extensive variety of property management services to scale your business. This platform offers vacancy advertising, lease applications, tenant screening, rent payments, lease renewals, and more. Buildium also provides accounting tools, automated rent reminders, and financial performance insights. Property managers can submit and manage maintenance requests and pay vendors online. 

Considerations: Unlike some of the other online rent collection tools, Buildium isn’t free. Customers get a free trial, but plans start at $50 per month — and Premium accounts cost $460 per month. Smaller independent landlords may prefer a more cost-effective option, as many of the Buildium’s advanced features may go underutilized.

Appfolio

Benefits: Appfolio’s paid property management software allows property managers to enjoy centralized tools for rent collection, automated payments, accounting, tenant and landlord communication, marketing and leasing, and maintenance. Their robust mobile app makes on-the-go property managers’ jobs easier, whether they manage residential, commercial, student housing, or community association properties. 

Considerations: Users are required to have at least 50 rental units, so smaller real estate investors would be better off choosing another option. Appfolio is also pricier compared to other online rent collection platforms. There is an onboarding fee based on your portfolio size, and their minimum monthly fee for small- to mid-size portfolios is $280 (larger portfolio managers pay $1,500 per month). While there is no free trial, a free demo is available. 

Avail

Benefits: Avail's property management software allows landlords to advertise vacant units, request rental applications, screen tenants and view credit reports, create and sign leases, collect rent, maintenance requests, and more. Whether you have a single unit or a large portfolio, Avail works for many types of landlords. If a tenant is late on their rent payment, Avail will notify you and automatically issue a late fee, if applicable. They have a free plan with basic features for unlimited units, or you can upgrade to the "Plus" plan for $5/unit. 

Considerations: If you're looking for sophisticated accounting features, Avail may not be for you as it only offers basic reporting. Also, if you prefer to access to all features on-the-go, Avail does not have a standalone mobile app. 

Stessa

Benefits: While Stessa isn’t a rent collection tool, it still earns a spot in our tools list. This asset management software that allows residential rental property owners to track, manage, and report on their real estate investments of unlimited properties via a personal online dashboard — for free. Stessa users enjoy automated income and expense tracking, document organization tools, and tax-ready financial reports. One reviewer called it “Quickbooks on steroids for real estate.” 

Considerations: Unlike the platforms mentioned above, Stessa does not currently offer rent collection services — so this isn’t an all-in-one solution for rental property management. This tool is also not for property managers or for fund managers with large commercial portfolios. Landlords looking to migrate their rent collection process online would need to use another platform alongside Stessa.

Ready to put rent collection pain points in your past? Try Azibo’s free, all-in-one financial platform for landlords today.

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Call us at (855) 920-9907 or email us at premium@azibo.com for a free onboarding consultation.

Learn about the Azibo landlord signup process in this step-by-step guide.

Want to know what the Azibo experience looks like for your tenants? Read our blog post How Do Renters Sign Up for Azibo? for instructions on the Azibo renter sign-up process.

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