I received a bit a shock when I tried to pay my rent the other day. Since I work near my landlord’s management office, I typically deliver my rental payment in person rather than sending it through the mail. My landlord doesn’t keep regular office hours, so most of the time I slide a labeled envelope into a drop box next to his office door.
After almost a year of delivering my rent in this fashion, I’ve never had any problems. That is, no problems until this month. Upon arriving at my landlord’s office, I discovered the drop boxed taped closed with a paper sign covering it, informing tenants to leave mail next door. (see image).
Unfortunately “next door” related to about 3 different businesses, none of which had a corresponding sign indicating that they were accepting mail or rent for my landlord. And since it was after hours, no one was available to ask.
In a panic, I called my landlord only to be met with an answering machine. I left a message, saying I was trying to pay my rent, explaining my hesitation and asking him to please call me back and confirm that I was indeed supposed to leave my rent in strange business's drop box (and please clarify which business to be exact).
Working in the rental industry made me very skeptical of the situation. I was astonished by the the way my landlord was handling my rental payment (not to mention private account information on my check). How did I know it wasn’t a scam made by a stranger to collect rent money? How did I know the neighboring office was secure and trustworthy?
I do want to mention, that I adore my landlord. I can honestly say, he is the best landlord I have ever had. Not only is he friendly and nice, but flexible and accommodating. And always manages any maintenance issues quickly and appropriately. But I was still very insecure with the way he was handling this month's rent collection.
I ended up receiving a return phone call later that evening from my landlord informing me that I was indeed supposed to leave rent payments in the drop box of the “accountant office” next door. He explained he is in the process of relocating his office and his office neighbor happily agreed to accept mailings during the moving process. My landlord was very apologetic of not informing me before hand that things were changing.
Without getting too sales pitchy on my landlord, I wanted to suggest that he offer his tenants a way to pay rent online. Accepting online rental payments eliminates the need to manually mail or deliver rent checks and would have prevented my hesitation (and I imagine his other tenant’s hesitation) when met with a skeptical way of dropping off rent. As a tenant I would even be ok with paying the nominal transaction fee of an online rent payment, if it meant my money and information was secure. And the convenience of paying rent online would be worth a small fee.
Are you a property manager or landlord that collects rent payments online? How has the process worked for you?