How to Get Renters to Pay Rent
Are you sliding into a dangerous financial situation with renters who avoid paying their rent? Before you hit the inevitable eviction wall, are there tactics you could use to encourage rent payment from renters?
The current political mood is one that might make people feel hopeless about or justified in not meeting financial obligations. Capturing cash flow then and avoiding eviction processes, might require some different tactics.
Respect for the Virus and Respect for Property Owners
We can keep good relations with tenants. A lot of it is being professional and encouraging respect. A professional approach to keeping distance, disinfecting, cleaning and practicing the highest levels of Corona Virus preventative measures at workplaces, retail stores, transit, schools, and other indoor environments is great. But so is encouraging respectful relations with the landlord.
As pandemic unemployment and reduced incomes persist, more tenants might not pay their rent. Each month it seems state governors extend moratoriums on payment and eviction. Without cash flow, landlords and property owners become the vital link under pressure.
Rather than getting resentful about it, we might put on our diplomatic hats, to encourage better rates of payment and therefore cash flow to get us through this period. We’ve listed 18 strategic tips below to get you started in a plan to encourage payment from renters.
Rent as Debt: Falling Behind in Paying Rent
Despite NMHC’s multifamily rent tracker claiming a 7% rent default, the reality for most rental property owners is much higher rates of default, not to mention back rent due. Unemployment rose 5% in June to 11% and we know some industries and cities were hit hard (Florida, Texas, Los Angeles, New York). We’ve read estimates from some landlords of 50% defaults, so the 7% national estimate is likely not accurate.
Although people may be working, they’re not earning a full wage which is a risk factor.
Eviction Filings 2020
Yes, eviction filings are way up from previous years. In New Jersey for instance, it’s reported that 15,000 evictions have been filed, during the moratorium. And across the nation, more landlords are now free to file for evictions, and more will happen as city and state payment and eviction moratoriums can’t be extended much further.
This is happening as the Federal and state assistance programs face huge funding issues and business bailouts are questioned. The Democrats and Republicans are increasingly locking horns as the November election nears.
Using Digital Media to Persuade Tenants
That’s all business and marketing is really, persuading customers to exchange money for your services. But in the Covid 19 era, tenants see the value you provide differently. That means your messaging has to change, and the medium of your message should change too.
Banging on doors and posting eviction notices might be persuasive to some landlords, but with social media, your actions are publicized, damaging your reputation, and setting up persistently adversarial relationships.
Your property management software can play a key role in creating better conversations. And for property management companies with huge numbers of renters to serve, a tenant friendly software platform can really help.
Changing Your Message
If the prevailing mood is toward “can’t pay or won’t pay” then why not show sympathy, but put the onus on renters to prove they’re being responsible, and make payment the most desirable action?
Young Renters Need Guidance
Younger renters want communications via digital media. They want reassurances, hope, support, and help from you to get government help for them. They want to know you’re on their side.
Using your property management platform’s communication tools, you can deliver a consistent message about your attitude, intent, and help them through a very difficult time. The end goal is to help them deal with this better and do what has to be done.
18 Ways to Encourage Renter Payments
By sharing information directly with tenants, you take control of the relationship and move them into a more positive frame of mind. The point of this is to make cooperation with you pay off for them.
If you haven’t already, set up and start to use your property software’s tenant communications channel. It’s your chance to take control and create an environment of cooperation and transparency.
- use a cordial, calm voice in messages to communicate with tenants and contractors
- encourage tenants to keep calm and look for solutions for their issues, including managing the money they have
- remind tenants of your online rent payment app so they know there is nothing to stop them from paying
- be open to partial payments which can be paid online via an Internet payment gateway
- offer a time limited rent discount if they pay their rent by a specified date, and send a reminder about that due date
- set up a time to speak with them personally via phone to discuss their situation
- when asked for a concession/delay in rent payment, ask in turn for bank statements, credit card statements, car payments, investment accounts, utility bills, insurance bills etc.
- use your property management tenant portal for informational use only (don’t use threats or demands in this channel because they will stop using it)
- encourage tenants to express themselves and talk about their situation freely and check for untruthful statements made later if necessary
- tell them how they can stop the eviction process if its started
- create a thorough list of resources https://managecasa.com/articles/wave-of-evictions/ for them in the tenant portal or on your website
- state the common problems so they know you understand their situation exactly, so they don’t waste time re-commenting on these baseline issues — you’re looking to move beyond being stuck to creating action
- discuss solutions that could work for them such as calling government agencies, asking family for money, moving in with a friend, or forwarding half their aid checks
- have names, emails, web urls, facebook pages and phone numbers of government leaders responsible for rental property laws and encourage tenants to ask them directly for funding
- post articles and news stories about landlord points of view and needs
- post and share articles on what happens when landlords can’t pay their mortgage – let them see the future and present just a little fear into the matter of not paying rent
- post articles on how to raise money from relatives and friends
- post articles on moving to other cities away from high cost cities (for those who will never pay their back rent due)
Keeping the Relationship Alive
There’s a lot of stories out there about rent default and refusals to meet lease agreements, yet precious few about happy endings. Keep happy endings in your mind and build your rent collection strategy to them.
Most of your tenants will be staying with you so you’ll want to avoid burning the bridge with them. For the rest, it’s about being strategic so they’re willing to pay you.
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