In the past, collecting rent was as simple as knocking on your tenant’s door and collecting the money in an envelope. It’s not so easy today.
You may not live close enough to your rental property to go door to door, and most people prefer to pay with a credit card anyway. In the digital era, what you probably need is a reliable rent payment processing software.
Happily, modern technology has made collecting rent no less easy. But there are hundreds of options for rent payment processing programs out there. You don’t want to waste your money on software that won’t be the right fit for you.
To help you decide on the best possible software for your company, consider the following eight essential tips.
1. Security is number one
Hacking and online thievery have become more common than ever. The problem is getting worse as mobile technology, data storage sites, and Internet servers become more widespread and interlinked.
That being the case, your number-one priority in finding a good rent processing system is to keep your tenants’ personal and financial information secure. Besides the fact that you don’t want a rent scandal on your hands, if you take credit card payments, you have to abide by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.
These rules basically state that if others are going to share their personal card information with you, you must keep it safe and secure under penalty of law.
Look for software providers who have the best possible security and who both affirm that they uphold the standards linked above and have a record of doing so. Read through the standards yourself so you can compare them to the security a particular payment software offers and make sure you’re getting the real deal.
2. Make it online
When you collect credit card information, you have two choices. You can have your tenants tell you their card information over the phone, or they can enter it online for themselves.
We recommend the latter. Allowing tenants to enter their own card information and submit the monthly payments gives them a greater feeling of security and trust, which is a huge asset to your rental business. Offering renters a highly secure payment form that is easily accessed online is your best option for processing their payments.
3. Keep it simple
You’ll want your online payment form to be as uncomplicated as possible. This will benefit both you and the tenant, since he or she is less likely to make mistakes or enter incorrect information if the form is easy to use.
It’s smart to opt for software that has a simple, one-page form the tenant can fill out and then confirm on a single separate page. If the software you’re looking at has many steps and employs complicated language, look elsewhere.
4. Get an app
As the saying goes, “There’s an app for that,” and it’s true even for payment processing software programs. It might seem a little fishy to have your tenants pay through an app, but there are many excellent payment-processing apps that will deliver payments securely and simply.
At least some of your tenants will love the convenience and ease of paying their rent wherever they are, so that will enhance your relationship with them and increase the odds that you’ll receive your rent payments on time.
5. Open a merchant account
This is more of a tip to get you started with your payment processing software than to help you choose the right one, but it’s good to know this before you begin using any program.
After you’ve collected the tenants’ credit card information, it will be transferred electronically to a payment processor who will authorize the validity of the card and ensure there’s enough money to process the transaction. Once it’s been approved, the money will be transferred to a merchant’s account.
To ensure that the payment is secure and separate from your own personal funds, the processor will require you to have a merchant’s account. So you’ll need to investigate banks that offer excellent merchant account services and will work with you to keep the payment process simple, secure, and hassle-free.
6. Consider swipe hardware
Getting a payment form online is your best option, and you should do it regardless of where you’re located. But if you live on site or close by your rental property, it might be a good idea to get swipe hardware.
Some of your tenants may prefer the security of paying their rent in person rather than online, and if you’re close enough to do that, make it happen! You can get swipe machines that will connect to your personal computer or laptop, or use credit card processing mobile apps.
These handy apps have a proprietary dongle that you hook into your smartphone’s headphone jack. This allows you to swipe cards and send the money directly to your account.
7. Go with a name brand
There are many well-known, online payment platforms that offer excellent services for a small fee or even no cost. These platforms are generally quite user-friendly and highly secure, which means you’ll have very little to worry about.
Examples of such online platforms include Paylease, PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Payments, and WePay.
8. Tech support
A vital facet of any payment processing software service is how readily available the tech support is. If your system goes down or gets hacked, you need to have someone available 24 hours a day to handle the situation, in order to keep your funds and the tenant information as secure as possible.
There’s nothing more hacker-friendly than a payment platform that doesn’t include live security.
9. Let a property management company handle it
Besides handling all of your maintenance and landscape needs, did you know that a property management firm can also take care of all your payment processing? It can remove all the stress of extracting payments from your renters and finding the best software for the task.
The best of property managers regard security as their top priority, and you can rest assured that your renters will be using the simplest and most secure platform possible. The property manager will also handle any of the backlash that will arise if a problem occurs with the software.
This is the best way to handle rent collection minus the time, stress, and hassle that’s inevitable when you have to do it yourself. Such a trusted company is Green Residential based in Houston.