In this era of digital payment for everything from groceries and plane tickets to city taxes and medical bills, the industries who have been early adopters have created a competitive dynamic over those who have not. One of the latest industries to expand their acceptance to electronic payments is the apartment rental industry. According to a survey by the National Multifamily Housing Council, almost 80 percent of renters would prefer to pay rent with a credit or debit card online or by smartphone. The industry is responding to these digital changes and is reaping the benefits of digital transactions. Over the last few years, apartment managers have taken heed to this statistic and are getting on board to implement a digital strategy.
Card acceptance by apartment managers can provide a significant increase in overall convenience and efficiency. Payments that are processed digitally eliminate clerical work, freeing up staff and saving time and money. For tenants—especially millennials—who are used to paying their bills online, paying with a debit or credit card helps them pay rent on time and allows them to budget and plan better. According to the 2015 Census Bureau Survey, one in three renter-occupied households are millennials.
Responding to this emerging trend and opportunity, Visa and Entrata, a property management software company, are making it easier for property managers to accept and process digital payments, subsequently changing how renters are choosing and preferring to pay rent. Entrata enables property management firms to accept Visa cards which significantly reduces the number of steps it takes to process rent payments. The partnership set an industry precedent that helped broaden acceptance and implementation of electronic payments. Entrata data shows that properties using online payment technology can spend 65% less time processing rent and will decrease rent delinquencies by 50 percent. One property management firm, Trinity Property Consultants, has had great success with the card payment program.
As a national organization managing a geographically diverse portfolio of over 23,000 units in 13 states, Trinity was looking to increase operational efficiency. Trinity had been accepting online payments since 2013 but they were interested in taking it to the next level by increasing adoption. Their goal in expanding acceptance to electronic payments was to establish a paperless office, with 100 percent of payments taken online.
Trinity estimates they have saved more than 51 employee hours a month with the increase in online payment adoption they have seen since the roll out of the Visa pilot program. By lowering the fee renters incur when using a debit card, Trinity has been able to substantially increase the number of residents paying rent electronically.
Trinity was also able to access the funds faster, than when paid by check, which has enabled better cash flow for their business. Over the year, the percentage of renters using cards to pay rose from two to 11 percent. Trinity reported that because of the program, they are able to focus on providing value-added services to their tenants instead of processing checks, which has led to increased customer and employee satisfaction.
“The staff loves it when residents pay rent online. The email notifications in Entrata’s technology has created instant transparency as to who has paid and who hasn’t,” said Trinity’s VP of Marketing and Training, Carla Alicea.
As a result of all of the positive outcomes, Trinity staff across the country are now specifically trained to encourage all residents to choose to make online payments through Entrata. As early adopters, Trinity Property Consultants has benefited greatly from the convenience and efficiency of accepting electronic rental payments.