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Paying Rent Online | AppFolio Property Management Software

September 12, 2023

Last modified on July 25th, 2023

If you’re still collecting paper rent checks and spending valuable time on manual data entry, then now is the time to implement a paperless system. In addition to being an expected and standard part of doing business today, online rent payments are essential for improving your resident and employee experience.

Keep reading to uncover 10 ways online rent payments can help streamline processes, eliminate inefficiencies, and benefit everyone.

1.) Save time and money

Manually collecting rent, preparing deposit slips, and making trips to the bank to deposit funds can take up valuable team time. Once the checks clear, employees spend even more time manually posting receipts and updating resident records. With online rent payments, however, your residents can pay their rent digitally, which can help reduce operating expenses that would otherwise be spent on manual entry and follow-ups.

The team at Centana Property Management has been able to do just that by switching to online rent payments. Since implementing an online payment system, they have been able to streamline their workflows and drive efficiency.

”We have 91% of our renters activated on the online portal, and almost all of them pay that way every single month. So just the foot traffic — not having to be in the office for people to make their rent payments and then having to enter them in and run to the bank to make deposits — has saved us about 10 hours a week.”Cora Langel-Person, Office Manager and Property Manager at Centana Property Management

2.) Eliminate time-consuming accounting processes and reduce errors

Manual accounting errors can quickly and easily become costly mistakes for your business. Fortunately, online rent payment services prevent the most common accounting errors property managers face with paper-based record-keeping systems, including:

  • Double-posting
  • Making data entry errors, such as mistyping or transposing numbers
  • Improperly coding transactions
  • Failing or forgetting to post a payment

All of these common accounting errors can create a worst-case scenario of inaccuracies in balance sheets and financial statements, but a paperless system can eliminate or minimize them. Ultimately, you’ll save your organization time, money, and frustration while boosting your team’s overall productivity and efficiency. 

3.) Protect sensitive resident information with more secure systems

Considering that PWC’s 2022 Global Digital Trust Insights Survey revealed “one in four companies (27%) globally have suffered a data breach that cost them USD $1$20 million or more in the past three years,” securing your residents’ information should be among your most urgent priorities.

A well-designed online rent payment system will have security safeguards built into every step for residents. With a personal, password-protected payment portal that safeguards both in-transit and at-rest data, residents can pay rent online without worrying about identity theft — and property managers can be confident that sensitive data is shielded from unauthorized views.

4.) Make more informed business decisions

Accurate records are undeniably essential to your company’s success. Depending on the vendor, many online rent payment systems include real-time analytics that can enable you and your team to make better, more informed business decisions. 

You can also gain a clearer, more complete snapshot of your organization’s financial health by having owners receive monthly disbursements and pay assessments online. In addition, resident payment data allows you to identify trends such as late payment frequency, non-rent assessments, and payment type preferences that may change over time, all of which can help you better pivot and implement future financial strategies.

5.) Streamline communication and transparency

Paying rent online via a fully integrated, self-service system allows residents to access their full payment history, review any fees and assessments, and modify payment choices, all at their convenience. 

From the business side, that same fully integrated system can help streamline your communication with residents thanks to automated communication features such as text and email alerts when rent or one-time fees are due.

6.) Promote rent payment accountability

When rent payments are made manually in person or by mail or drop box, it’s much harder to keep track of who has paid and when payments were submitted. As a result, it can be difficult to hold residents accountable and protect your business. However, with an online rental payment system, you have a more accurate digital record that allows your teams to instantly verify if and when a payment was made.

Along with offering multiple ways to pay, consider offering flexible payment plans, too. For example, setting up a payment plan to convert outstanding charges into a series of smaller payments can provide relief for your residents and give organization-wide visibility into when those payments will be complete.

7.) Boost efficiency with automated payments

A 2022 McKinsey & Company report found that “nearly 9 in 10 Americans are now using some form of digital payments,” so processing rent with your property management business shouldn’t be an exception. 

In addition, many consumers are accustomed to using automatic bill pay systems that let them pay without manually re-entering their information every month. By enrolling in online payments, your residents will save time, and you have reassurance rents will be paid on time and in full. You can also encourage prospects to submit the initial application fee online to promote early online payment adoption.

8.) Give residents more payment flexibility

In addition to almost 90% of Americans using some form of online payment, the same McKinsey & Company report also showed those “using two or more forms of digital payments has grown even more rapidly — from 51% in 2021 to 62%” in 2022. 

With an online payment system that offers flexible payment options — such as eCheck (ACH), credit cards, debit cards, electronic cash/money orders, and bank drafts — you’re not only catering to your residents’ payment preferences, you’re also making it easier for them to adopt online systems and processes faster. In short, the more ways residents can pay, the better chance you have of collecting rent payments on time.

9.) Improve resident satisfaction

As revealed by the 2022 AppFolio U.S. Resident Motivations Report, 70% of renters say they’re satisfied with their property management company, but only 24% said that they’re likely to recommend their property management company. 

Offering more streamlined processes and self-service offerings, such as online rent payments, can help increase overall resident satisfaction. And the happier your residents are, the more likely they are to refer you to others.

Jessica Watts, Owner and Property Manager of Blue Key Property Management, has seen firsthand the positive effect her organization’s adoption of online rent payments had with residents. As she explains, 

“All of my residents get set up and pay online. Once they start using the online portal, I think they come to appreciate it. I know they all love getting their deposit back electronically and quickly.”

10.) Increase online portal adoption

By getting residents to adopt online rent payments, you can also increase the likelihood they’ll use other property features available in their online resident portals, such as online maintenance requests and lease renewals. The more features your residents adopt, the more empowered they will feel with self-service tools. Having satisfied residents means you’ll also see a greater return on your technology investment in the form of streamlined processes and improved team bandwidth.

Ultimately, the ability to pay rent online is not only preferred, but expected, by the overwhelming majority of your residents. Providing modern, flexible ways to pay enhances the entire customer experience, boosts efficiency, eliminates accounting errors, saves money, and gives your team more time to focus on growing your business.

Want to uncover even more ways to streamline your accounting operations, download our free guide below.

accounting challenges guide

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