While social distancing is seemingly quickly coming to an end across Virginia (and with Arlington proudly leading the charge in reduced cases), we don't know as Arlington property management professionals whether there will be another wave of COVID-19 come autumn—or another disaster in the future. For this reason, at RentSimple, we view putting some time into thinking about how to make rental payments easier for the great people in your great spaces as a smart move.
Whether the result of a global pandemic or significant roadwork in the Arlington area as we expand and grow making it difficult for a tenant to get to you, considering alternative methods for rent collection is an investment in your future as a property owner.
The more comfortable you make it for your tenants to pay rent now, the more likely you will collect it when daily life is disrupted. Using our insight as an expert in Arlington property management can help you get started when transitioning from outdated methods to modern solutions.
A quick note: This article is not intended as legal advice. However, it can be a great introduction to steps landlords can take to continue providing professional services during a crisis. If you're facing a situation that requires legal counsel, work with a competent attorney or get in touch with the Arlington property management experts at RentSimple!
Begin by Offering Online Payments
You can help the great people in your great spaces to make their rent payments using online services. Some are more expensive or work-intensive than others, but we wanted to cover a various methods available to property owners in Arlington regardless.
Using Property Management Software
There are a many software options for landlords that help property owners manage a growing portfolio. Sometimes, these programs will even let you accept work orders as an extension of the services they provide.
The problem is, for an owner with a small portfolio, these options are cost-prohibitive, considering you still have to do all of the work yourself. The rates these platforms charge are similar to that of a full-service property management company, so if you're considering signing on, that money might be better spent on Arlington property management.
PayPal, Venmo, Cashapp
Yes, there are even some apartments out there that still use PayPal as a way of collecting electronic payments! This method works when you have no other options. Does that make this a smart move? Not so much.
These organizations are meant for the buying of goods and services, so they usually involve consumer protections. This means your tenant could dispute the rent and take it back—leaving you without money you may have already spent on the mortgage.
While such software can work in a pinch if your renters need additional time to pay in installments on a payment plan (PayPal Credit comes to mind), it is better to stick with using software specially designed for collecting online payments. This means you're better able to enforce full payment of the rent without partial payments and chargebacks.
Allow Credit Cards
In the same vein as PayPal Credit, In very tough times, the great people in your great spaces may want to pay with a credit card. Providing that option to them when paying online—regardless of the method—may make it easier to collect the rent. Consider the credit card processing fees issued to the payee, though, and whether you need to charge that back to the tenant or consider it a waivable expense in the name of preserving lasting returns.
Waive Online Payment Fees
If your tenants are primarily still paying by check or money order, you might want to incentivize them to pay online with a connected bank account through your landlord software by removing online payment and processing fees for a short period. This way, "I couldn't drop off the check" becomes increasingly less likely to be the reason why the rent is late.
Sometimes, in situations like these, we need creative solutions to everyday problems. As the unemployment rate is very nearly at Great Depression levels, you are bound to encounter some of your residents who might be struggling to meet the terms of their lease when it comes to making payments. When they come to you unable to pay the rent, creative solutions may help you work out a resolution that shelters your great spaces, your great people, and your lasting returns—all in one.
At RentSimple, we always recommend as an Arlington property management provider that you ask how much your renters can afford to pay right now—and that amount should be due. However, if you can afford it, offering a payment plan where you split the rest of the payments along the remainder of the lease could help you avoid evicting an otherwise great resident who has fallen on hard times.
If you are lucky enough to have a mortgage covered by the CARES Act that has offered a deferral, you could extend this to your tenants as well. This doesn't mean they get a free month—just that they have time to pay it back later.
End the Lease
If a tenant can't pay—and it doesn't look likely to change any time soon—you might want to consider letting them break their lease without consequence in return for them quickly vacating your great spaces in good condition. Evictions can be messy and expensive; sometimes (though rare), it is a better move to cut your losses and find great people who will value your Arlington property all the more.
Professional Management Makes Rent Simple!
Working with an expert in Arlington property management takes the uncertainty out of rent collection. At RentSimple, we not only provide the technology you need to collect rent and deposit your payment, we have the expertise to know how to handle a situation when one of your renters is worried they won't be able to meet the terms of their lease.
Our property management team has our own collection of great spaces, too! We know what it's like to be a property owner in Arlington—and we're here to take on the management element of your rental homes so you can take back your daily life. We know it's hard being a landlord right now, so we've put together a great resource to help you tackle the issue we've addressed in today's blog.
If you have more questions about collecting rent, turn to our Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook to find more answers!