Digital payments have been an enormous game-changer in the rental industry, allowing for instant and secure funds transfers that are convenient for both residents and for landlords or property managers.
As the multifamily real estate industry becomes more accustomed to digital payments, the roadblocks to processing paper payments are increasingly stark; a survey conducted at the National Apartment Association’s Apartmentalize event revealed that processing checks takes an average of two entire business days—40% of the working week when rent is due.
Paper payments are time-consuming, not as secure, and the funds don’t move for days. It’s clear they’re a second choice to digital payments. But when it comes to the multifamily rental world, is it truly possible to eliminate them?
The verdict is in: Property professionals prefer paperless
In our survey, we asked rental property professionals whether they believe that their residents are ready to go paperless, and a large majority (more than 87%) told us that they think residents are ready for a digital payment system.
That said, half of those same property managers said that the biggest barrier to going 100% paperless is convincing every resident to use the available digital options.
Although most residents are ready and able to go fully paperless, there are still a handful of barriers that exist for some residents.
What’s the hold-up?
There’s a disconnect between the number of property managers ready and willing to embrace paperless payments, and the number of residents who say they’d prefer to pay this way—and the ability of the industry to cater to everyone’s needs.
Residents might not be ready to make the switch to paperless payments because they simply aren’t as tech-savvy as their counterparts. Not everybody owns (or wants to own) the latest iPhone, and many residents might not want to mess with an app at all when it comes to something as critical as paying rent on time.
Another reason why many residents hesitate to (or simply can’t) switch to paperless payments is because they don’t have a bank account. Those residents will be used to paying with a cashier’s check or a money order or some other form of paper payment, and most payment platforms require an active bank account from which to transfer the money.
Finally (but far from least) is the general human resistance to change. People get used to a routine that works and works well for them, and they hesitate to make any changes—even positive ones—for fear that it will disrupt their routine. Any existing routine that works is better for these residents than a new routine that presents a risk.
Overcoming the objections
These all seem like valid reasons to hesitate to adopt new technology, but the advances in paperless payments mean that there’s truly no good reason to avoid going paperless in the future. For every potential hurdle, there is a workable solution.
Residents who struggle to adapt to new technology will need tech options that are extremely easy to use and that work across multiple devices. This means property managers need to provide a simple, intuitive app experience that guides residents through each action, step by step.
Once they’ve tried it once and truly see how simple it is, the anxiety around inadvertently messing up a payment vanishes, and users learn to appreciate the instant, secure nature of this type of rent transaction. Plus, platforms that can be fully integrated into your property management system can allow residents to not only pay rent but also request maintenance or communicate other needs.
To make the app easy to use, implementation needs to be seamless. A payment option that provides 24/7 support and foundational training will help property managers become familiar with the software and processes, and can ensure that everyone involved has a smooth transition experience.
And to accommodate those residents who don’t have access to a bank account, the ideal paperless payment platform will allow residents to capture a check or money order with their phone’s camera and use it to instantly (and digitally) pay their rent, completely eliminating the need for property management staff to secure possession of the paper check, process it, and dispose of it.
Paperless payments can (and will!) become the new routine
Rental property professionals are more than ready to go paperless—and so are residents, despite facing some obstacles. With new tech services that overcome these obstacles while maintaining the highest data privacy and security standards, paperless payments are poised to become the gold standard of multifamily rental payments in the very near future.
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