This is the Landlord Gurus definitive guide to online rent collection for landlords. Stop waiting for rent checks to arrive in the mail. No more filling out deposit slips at the bank. Get your rent deposited directly into your bank account – on time, in full, every month. If you want to collect rent online, read on!
Property management software can be a useful tool for small and independent landlords to effectively run their businesses.
We have written product overviews of several top software products. Each offer solutions for a variety of standard property management tasks. These include advertising and applications, tenant screening, lease signing and rent collection, and more.
In this complete guide to online rent collection, you will first learn the benefits of collecting rent online. Additionally, we discuss why it is safe to do so. We also walk you through how to collect rent online and introduce several of the common online rent collection tools available to landlords. And we present a detailed analysis of several of the top online rent payment services that make it easy for you to collect rent online.
Here we compare how each of them handle online rent collection from a landlord’s perspective. We compare them across a variety of factors and then determine the best online rent payment service for small landlords. We hope you will understand the benefits of online rent collection and can begin to collect rent online right away.
The Benefits of Online Rent Collection
Technology is constantly progressing to where managing daily tasks is moving online more and more each day. That’s no different when it comes to collecting rent on your rental properties each month.
There are many reasons utilizing an online rent payment service might be beneficial to you. Factors such as safety, security, and documentation make online rent collection a great way to protect yourself and your investment.
Time and Labor Savings
One of the more compelling reasons for busy landlords to collect rent online is the time and labor savings you can achieve. Time spent at your rental can be better used to inspect and maintain the property and improve relationships with your tenants rather than tracking down rent checks.
And instead of logging each received payment into a ledger or spreadsheet and then going to the bank to make a deposit, you can focus on other aspects of your rental property business to increase efficiency and profitability.
Dangers of handling cash
Accepting rent in cash is problematic. It cannot be documented, can be lost, and can easily be stolen if someone catches on to your pattern.
No more missed rent payments
Tenants no longer need to remember to write a rent check. Many of these apps allow residents to set up automatic, recurring rent payments. As a result, you can be confident that rent will deposit directly into your bank account on time, in the correct amount (you can even include utility charge-backs and other fees), every single month.
This has become invaluable in helping to eliminate late and missed rent payments.
Forget about billing for late fees, bounced checks, and constantly reminding tenants when rent is due. Automated rent collection software will do all those tasks for you.
Integrate online rent collection and accounting
On top of the time and labor savings, online rent collection allows landlords to integrate income receipts directly into their bookkeeping and accounting tools.
Most rent payment systems show records of rent paid as well as rent that is late or outstanding. Other common features will include automatic late fees, payment status notifications and ongoing payment history.
More robust rent collection tools can also sync to your bank accounts as well as provide income statements, cash flow, rent rolls, rental property metrics, and even tax worksheets and reports.
Experienced investors know that this kind of transparency into their portfolios helps make better decisions regarding their rental property assets.
Are Online Rent Collection Services Safe?
At the end of the day, financial security is the most important thing. This relates to safe online rent payment transactions as well as keeping yourself safe from potential online threats. If you choose to collect rent online, you want to use a rent payment service that will protect your security.
With an online rent collection service, you’re less likely to fall victim to somebody that’s trying to scam you. You also remove the opportunity for major disputes. When somebody doesn’t pay, you have proof that you never received their rent.
Most online rent payment services will collect rent from a person’s bank account before they deposit it to yours. This ensures they have the funds to pay and helps you avoid half-payments with cash or checks that may bounce. Online rent collection makes things more convenient and provide safety for both the landlord and tenants. Both parties are able to see balances and make transactions from a computer or mobile device.
Many renters even prefer making their rent payments online because it allows them to treat it like any other bill. With the best online rent payment services, tenants can even automatically schedule recurring rent payments every month. No more collecting rent payment in person, planning around work schedules, or worrying about lost checks in the mail.
Plus, it helps provide documentation of payments for all parties involved.
Other Benefits of Online Rent Collection
While you’re contemplating the benefits of using property management software to collect rent online, here are a few other perks that make it worthwhile.
- Different management software will allow you to set up monthly reminders when rent is due. This can notify your tenants to make sure they have their accounts funded before the due date.
- These services speed up the process of getting your deposits. You don’t have to look for tenants, and you can get the money directly deposited into your account.
- You can more reliably evict tenants when needed by having a record of missed rental payments. This works well for keeping up with records and invoices. It removes the lack of documentation that comes with accepting cash.
- Landlords are able to require tenants to buy renter’s insurance. In some cases, they can purchase it directly through the site.
- Most services provide listing syndication where vacancy advertisements automatically post on other sites such as Zillow, Realtor.com, or Craigslist. Some can even help schedule showings for you.
- Potential tenants can easily apply from the listing ad and pay for screening reports directly.
- Some property management software products also can help with maintenance requests and schedule appointments with service professionals.
How to Collect Rent Online
Here are the common ways landlords are collecting rent online as well as some of the advantages and pitfalls to keep in mind.
ACH vs EFT vs eCheck
You may have seen these terms used before and are not sure what the differences are. In fact, we often use them interchangeably.
- EFT stands for Electronic Funds Transfer. This represents any type of payment that is made electronically. This can include ACH transfers, wire transfers, eChecks, and more.
- ACH is an Automated Clearing House transfer. This is a specific type of electronic payment between banks that uses the ACH network in the U.S. ACH payments include an added level of security, and can sometimes be reversed if there is a payment error.
- eCheck is short for Electronic Check and is a specific type of ACH payment. In a broad sense, eCheck is often used to mean any type of EFT payment, with the same set of benefits you get over paper checks: faster, cheaper, and safer.
In other words, ACH, EFT, and eCheck all refer to the same process of electronic transfers. All offer the same benefits and allow you to receive rent payments into your bank account without the hassles or dangers of handling cash or checks.
Peer-to-Peer Online Rent Payment Systems
There are various payment platforms these days that make sending and transferring money a breeze. They all essentially aim to make the transfer of funds as quickly and painlessly as possible. Though there are definite risks with using a peer-to-peer payment system, many landlords and tenants use these convenient options to collect rent online.
We have listed below many of the popular payment systems for rent collection, along with their pros and cons.
Zelle is newer to the scene when it comes to banking. Unlike other online rent collection options, they work directly with various banks. When somebody sends money using the app, it sends you a notification and directly deposits the money to your bank account – if you already have an account within the app. If you don’t, no worries, you’ll receive a notification via email or text to help you set up your account. Once you do, you can access your money and transfer it to any other account you like.
One difference between Zelle and other options is that they don’t allow you to link credit cards. For some tenants who like the idea of racking up credit card reward points, this may be a deal breaker. Zelle also comes with a daily transfer limit, so tenants may have to schedule payments over a couple of days.
This leads to another issue with Zelle and some of the other peer-to-peer payment apps: If tenants pay their rent across multiple payments and days, landlords may not be able to block partial payments. In some locations, you may not be able to start the eviction process once you’ve accepted some of the rent money.
If a tenant sends a partial rent payment, landlords in some locations may not be able to start the eviction process.
This ubiquitous payment service has been around since 1998, and over the years, it has changed the way businesses work. You can send invoices, request money on jobs with ease, and transfer the money into your account immediately. For landlords, we recommend setting up a business account separate from your personal account so you don’t commingle funds. You can keep track of your invoices conveniently, as well as take advantage of the platform’s payment protection plans. This is great for tax season because it allows you to have access to everything you’ve made at the touch of a few buttons.
The major disadvantage with PayPal is that every business transaction comes with a fee, which can add up quickly. Similarly, landlords cannot block partial payments, making potential eviction proceedings difficult.
Released in 2013 by the payment processing company Square, this app didn’t start gaining popularity until recent years. Its set up allows you to directly connect a bank account for transfers. You can also enable direct deposits to make online rent collection even easier. Cash App users can also request a Visa debit card linked to an existing bank account.
The downsides to Cash App are that users are limited to how much they can cash out per week. This may be a particular issue for landlords with more than a couple of rentals. Additionally, tenants need to be extra careful when entering your payment information. If there is a mistake, their money can be transferred to the wrong account, with little recourse to get the funds back. Should a tenant claim they paid their rent but you never received it, this could be a major hassle to sort out.
Direct Bank Transfer
While these can be a little more difficult to set up, tenants can send rent payments directly to your rental property bank account. Because direct deposits require providing your tenants with personal details such as bank routing and account numbers, many people fear that these can be unsafe or insecure. Like with some of the other peer-to-peer options described above, there are no means to restrict a partial rent payment. A tenant might use this to send just a small amount each month without fear of eviction.
Property Management Software
Many landlords and tenants both see peer-to-peer payment apps and direct deposit options as cheap, simple, and easy to use methods for their online rent payments.
However, rental property management software may be the better option for online rent collection. Services like Avail, PayRent, and TenantCloud are safe and secure way to collect rent online, and provide you with a range of other property management features to help you run your rental business.
You can gain access to other valuable features such as advertising and listing, tenant screening, online applications, lease signing, maintenance management, financial reporting, and more. These software tools truly take many of the hassles out of being a landlord, and protect both you and your tenants.
The Best Online Rent Payment Services
We graded the top rent payment software tools across several key online rent collection features.
These are our winners:
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Best Online Rent Collection System: Overall
PayRent is a product that focuses solely on online rent payment for landlords like us. With multiple plans starting at $0/month, landlords have access to a low-cost solution for collecting rent payments. Choose to pass-through transaction fees to your tenants, and your rent payment fees are $0 forever. Tenants will also receive rent reminders and can schedule automated payments in advance, helping to ensure on-time rent collection every month.
Additionally, PayRent offers a RentDefense feature with their paid packages: Payment controls and rent collection enforcement that help you collect rent with less hassle and stress that virtually eliminates late and lost rent. Landlords can also upgrade to a premium plan that promises just 1-day payment holds and free bank transfers.
If what you need is fast, secure, reliable online rent collection, PayRent is our winner for you. It is our Overall winner for the Best Online Rent Payment Service.
- With no subscription plan and a simple pricing structure, PayRent helps property owners and managers collect rent online safely, reliably and automatically.
- Strength: Rent Collection
Best Online Rent Collection System: Property Management Software
Avail is our winner for the best online rent payment in the property management software category. With next day FastPay ACH transfers included for Unlimited Plus subscribers and 2-day deposit times for all others, Avail offers a fast and convenient rent payment service. Furthermore, landlords do not need to be a paid subscriber to access Avail’s online rent payment service. Also at $2.50 per transfer that your tenant can pay, a landlord has the opportunity to collect rent at no additional cost.
What makes Avail a winner is their best in class property management software solution. In addition to online rent collection features, a subscription to Avail gives you a complete set of tools, guidance, and educational content you need to be a confident and professional landlord.
- Advertise your property, find and screen tenants, sign leases, collect rent, and e-sign custom local leases, with tools built specifically for DIY landlords.
- Strength: Complete Solution
Best Hybrid Property Management Platform:
Hemlane is a property management platform that helps property owners manage their rentals wherever they are. It is a cross between DIY and full service management that automates day-to-day administration, from advertising vacant properties to collecting rent and late fees. Because of its flexibility for landlords to choose how much control of the day-to-day operations of their rentals they retain, Hemlane is our winner for the best online rent payment service: hybrid property management platform.
For landlords who want complete freedom from the daily operations of their rentals, Hemlane can help you connect with local, in-person leasing agents and 24/7 repair coordination with local service professionals. You can also choose to maintain 100% control and automation with Hemlane’s all-in-one online platform for leasing and management. Or select something in between where you have access to Hemlane’s software plus repair coordination to allow you to sleep through the night without being woken up with a late night emergency.
No matter which package you choose though, Hemlane offers landlords access to its robust online rent collection and financial tracking tools.
- Hemlane is a next-gen property management tool that helps property owners manage their rentals. More than simply property management software, Hemlane is a platform that bridges the gap between DIY and full service property management.
- Strength: Hybrid Full-Service Mgmt
Related: The Best Online Rent Payment Service for Small Landlords
Rent Payment Software
We considered the following top rental property management software products for the best online rent payment service. We specifically looked at features such as Payment Options; Automated and Recurring Rent Payment Scheduling; Speed; Cost; and Tracking and Reporting. We also gave a bonus point to software that reports late and on-time rent payments to the credit reporting agencies. Our detailed reviews of each product follows:
Tenants can pay however they want, from bank accounts or credit cards. They can also pay from any device that has access to the internet. Getting started is simple. Enter the rent amount and lease dates, your tenant’s name and email, and Avail will handle the rest.
Automated/Recurring Rent Payment
Tenants can turn on Autopay to schedule recurring online rent payments. They simply choose a date to withdraw the funds, and Avail will deposit the funds directly to your account.
Payments typically deposit directly to your bank in just 2 business days, faster than a check and without the hassle of a trip to the bank. With Avail’s Unlimited Plus premium plan, next day rent payments are available to landlords at no additional cost.
Using Avail’s free Unlimited plan, ACH transfers cost $2.50 per transaction. With the premium Unlimited Plus plan, landlords receive free ACH transfers.
With either plan, credit or debit card transactions are charged a 3.5% transaction fee. To compare pricing across the different online rent payment services, let’s take look at a landlord with 5 units. With the free plan, the cost would be $12.50 per month, which can be paid by either the landlord or tenants. With the paid plan, the monthly subscription fees would cost $25/month but rent collection costs would be $0. The subscription comes with additional benefits, not to mention the fact that it’ll pay for itself once a landlord reaches 10 units.
Avail offers automatic reminder emails and built-in payment receipts. Late fees can be automatically assessed as well. Landlords have access to payment tracking and reporting, though integration with your accounting or bookkeeping software may be limited.
Bonus – Credit Agency Reporting
Avail can report your tenants’ on-time rent payments to Transunion with their CreditBoost service. Your tenants may see up to a 40 point increase in their credit score.
Residents authorize their bank accounts or credit cards to make online rent payments. Together with PayNearMe, Buildium also lets residents make cash payments at over 20,000 locations nationwide.
Automated/Recurring Rent Payment
Residents can set up a recurring online rent payment schedule and can choose from a multitude of frequency options including one-time, every month, every two weeks, daily, and more. Rent will never be late, because it’s deposited into your bank account automatically.
Online rent payments using EFT/eCheck or credit card will be deposited into your back account 2 business days after the resident makes a payment through Buildium. Landlords can request faster EFT deposits for a small fee between $1.00-1.45 per transaction.
Money deposited via PayNearMe transactions will be deposited into your bank account within 5 business days without any risk of reversal.
You must have a subscription to one of Buildium’s paid plans, starting from $47/month for the Core plan and $156/month for the Pro plan.
With Buildium, our landlord would pay $47/month for the Buildium Pro plan. For 5 units, she would then pay $5 for ETF transactions each month, but those could be passed on to her tenants. As a result, the total combined cost would be $52/month, not including the $99 bank setup fee. Buildium does a great job helping landlords with a few units, and also provides very sophisticated features for those whose portfolio has grown. The larger the unit count, the more affordable Buildium becomes.
When a resident has a one-time or recurring payment scheduled, they will receive an email seven days in advance notifying them of this upcoming payment.
Completed transactions will automatically post to your Buildium account within minutes — no manual entry required. As a result, landlords spend less collecting, depositing, and logging cash payments.
Tenants can pay from their checking or savings accounts only. However, tenants do not need a computer or Internet access to use ClearNow. They simply complete their Tenant Enrollment Agreement (online or printed form) and send in their bank documentation to begin.
Automated/Recurring Rent Payment
Tenants can pay biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly. Each ClearNow account debits on a specific day and credits to a specific bank account. ClearNow is unique in that landlords can specify their own debit day: 1st of the month; 5th; 15th; 25th; Biweekly (every other Tuesday); or Semimonthly (3rd and 17th).
Three banking days after the debit day, your bank account is credited the rent amount, less any ClearNow fees. However, there are no options to expedite payment.
There are no set-up fees and no long-term contracts. Fees are charged to the landlord when ClearNow attempts to debit a tenant. With no option for tenants to pay, ClearNow then deducts fees directly from the transaction.
Monthly debit: $14.95/month for one debit. Each additional debit is $2/month.
Biweekly or semimonthly debit: $4/debit.
Additional account for monthly debit on a different day: $7.95/month for one debit. Each additional debit is $2/month.
Tenants receive payment reminders. On the credit day, a payment report is sent to the landlord via email.
ClearNow will notify you via e-mail of tenants who failed their debit via ClearNow, in which case they will need to pay their rent directly to you in another form such as a check or money order. ClearNow will not re-attempt the debit for that particular payment, but they may assess a fee to the tenant for the failed debit.
You can download ClearNow payment data as a CSV file. There are also additional reports based on income and expense tracking, such as profit and loss statements. One report in particular, the Schedule E Helper, makes completing the Schedule E of Form 1040 simple at tax time.
Bonus – Credit Agency Reporting
Tenants enrolled in ClearNow may report their rent payments to Experian RentBureau and PRBC.
Tenants can pay rent from a connected bank account. Once you set up online rent collection, your tenant will receive an email with a link to follow to create an account and connect their bank account. Their rent owed will show up on their dashboard where they can setup payments.
Automated/Recurring Rent Payment
Once your tenant has created their account they can turn on auto-pay and set the payment to be made the same time each month. This will schedule all ongoing payments to be deducted from the their account until the lease end date. Tenants can turn off auto-pay using the Automatic Rent Payment Toggle at any time.
It currently takes between 3-5 days for payments to be processed and funds to be received into your account. However, Landlord Studio is looking into options for instant transfers.
Landlord Studio charges $2.50 per transfer. For a landlord collecting rent from 5 tenants, this would come to $12.50 per month, plus a $14 monthly subscription for their lowest priced “Start” plan, for a total of $26.50.
This is where Landlord Studio shines. Landlords can integrate their bank accounts and get automatic income reconciliation. Landlord Studio ties into their leases and accounting software, and provides automated rent reminders, late fees, and more.
Rentec Direct makes it easy for tenants to pay rent using their credit card, debit card, or bank account. Tenants can also make cash rental payments at one of over 20,000 locations that are part of the PayNearMe cash network.
Automated/Recurring Rent Payment
You or your tenant will login to Rentec Direct and specify the frequency the rent payment should occur, either monthly or weekly, and on what day to process the transaction. Rentec EasyPay also supports one-time transactions. On the specified date, Rentec deducts the rent from the tenant’s checking or savings account and after it clears a few days later forwards it to the property manager’s account.
Rentec Direct transmits credit card payments to your bank account the day following the transaction.
ACH funds are transmitted the day following the transaction. You can also get same day funding of ACH transactions for a fee of $0.50 per transaction.
Free ACH transactions are included with a Rentec Pro or PM subscription.
No setup costs or other monthly costs. Expedited same day ACH funding costs $0.50 per transaction. The Rentec Basic option does not include the ability to collect online rent payment though. Subscription fees for Rentec Pro start at $35/month, and $40/month for Rentec PM. In this case, our small landlord with 5 units would just pay $35 each month if she were to sign up for the Rentec Pro plan.
Credit card payments are billed at 2.75% of the transaction cost. This can be paid by either the tenant or landlord.
Cash payments through the PayNearMe cash payment network have a $200 setup cost, and tenants pay $3.99 per transaction. There is no monthly cost, but a minimum of 10 payments per month is required.
All of the packages from Rentec Direct include financial tracking and reporting options. You can also connect your Rentec account with your bank to download and sync your online rent receipts into Quickbooks. Rentec Direct also offers a variety of specialized property and owner reports you can email, print, download or export.
With the TenantCloud free plan, your tenants can pay with a credit or debit card using Stripe or PayPal. With one of the paid plans, you can accept ACH using TC Payments powered by Dwolla, PayPal, or any other debit and credit card payments.
Automated/Recurring Rent Payment
Tenants that have set up TCPayments can also enable Auto Pay to make rent payments automatically on before the due date.
An ACH transaction usually takes 3–4 business days to complete. Transfers to your bank account takes another 1-2 business days, longer if they are over a weekend or holiday.
With the TenantCloud free plan, landlords can only accept rent using Stripe or PayPal. Stripe is a credit card processing system which enables you to receive/make payments with all major cards from/to customers around the world. However, this requires the setup of a business account with either Stripe or PayPal in order to be able to receive funds. Both Stripe and PayPal charge 2.9% of the transfer amount, plus $0.30 per transaction. These fees are paid by the tenant.
To access free ACH transactions using TenantCloud’s TCPayments system, landlords must first subscribe to one of TenantCloud’s paid plans. The standard plan costs $9 per month for up to 150 units under management while the advanced plan allows for 500 units and is $35/month. A subscription also unlocks features described above such as Auto Pay and more.
TenantCloud has robust reporting and accounting features to help you keep track of all your income and expenses. Tenants can pay rent and get automatic receipts as well as look up their payment history. There is also automatic invoicing and late fees, as well as financial and rental reports, and simple exporting of your data as needed.
With TenantCloud’s $35/month Advanced subscription service, you can even sync your data with QuickBooks.
Related: Collect rent online: 8 tips to choosing the best service
All of the options we’ve listed offer a slightly different experience when it comes to receiving rent payments. Each of them helps take the stress out of collecting rent payments every month. In conclusion, take a spin with one or more of the best online rent payment systems outlined above, to see which service best fits your needs.
About Landlord Gurus
At Landlord Gurus, our commitment is to provide expert advice on the complex and important issues faced by landlords and property managers. Together we have over 30 years of experience in residential property ownership and management. In addition to sharing our own expertise and experiences, we call on specialists in fields including maintenance, law, tenant management, and more. Where we see topics that require more in-depth discussion, we create insightful articles that provide valuable information and guidance.
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