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What to look for in a digital rent collection tool

By Eric Peterson, Vice President, Corporate Treasury Consulting, Commercial Banking
This article was originally published by JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking.

COVID-19 increased the use of digital rent collection solutions, which the largest property managers had used for years. However, the pandemic also quickly exposed gaps in these solutions’ functionality.

Deloitte’s 2021 commercial real estate outlook found that more than half of commercial real estate executives believe the pandemic revealed shortcomings in their organization’s digital capabilities.

Why? Not all technology is created equal. Effective rent collection technology does more than provide tenants with an online self-service portal to pay rent. If you want to drive usage and transform your rent collection process, you need the right tool for your organization. That solution should be comprehensive, considering current and future tenant needs and preferences.

When choosing your rent collection technology, look for a solution that includes:

Multiple Payment Options

Tenants like to pay rent in different ways. Giving them the choice to make payments through their preferred method can help maximize adoption. Make sure your technology reflects renters’ preferences by looking for a solution with payment options that include:

  • Digital wallets
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Mobile pay
  • Pay by text
  • Client-provided kiosks
  • In-person or at-the-counter payments

Communication Capabilities

The primary purpose of your new technology is to collect rent payments. However, the tool can double as a direct line of communication. Many software options let you connect with tenants via their preferred method. For example, you can send payment reminders through text or email so residents remember when rent is due. You can also send push notifications to tenants with important updates unrelated to payments, such as power outages, maintenance schedules and policy changes.

Accessibility for All Tenants

The personal needs of your current and potential tenants cannot be ignored when looking at rent collection technology. Your rent collection tool should be inclusive and accessible for tenants with a wide range of needs, including:

  • Tenants who speak English as a second language. Don’t let language barriers prevent tenants from using your new tool; make sure it has multilingual capabilities.
  • Residents with visual impairments. An integrated tool with an interactive voice response phoneline can help these tenants make electronic payments.
  • Tenants who have a need to build or improve their credit score. Some potential tenants have minimal credit history or damaged credit. A rent collection tool with credit reporting abilities can be an incentive for potential tenants, including students and recent graduates, to rent from your organization and stay for longer periods. 

The best rent collection tools utilize all these features to make adoption easy and create incentives for tenants to stay with your organization.

A Holistic Approach to Rent Collection

Wherever your organization is at in its digital transformation, it’s important to think of your rent collection solution as more than technology to aid in collecting rent in a single place. The right tool helps you take a holistic approach,  driving tenants to adopt your preferred electronic payment channels, lowering costs and improving your working capital. The tool should also provide access to clear, actionable data. It won’t happen overnight, but the best technology combined with an ongoing plan to drive tenant conversion can lead to full adoption of your rent collection solution via your preferred channels.

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