|Landlord Newsletter Mid April 2009|
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Dear Fellow Landlord,
I hope this LPA Newsletter finds you well. Lately, the LPA has been getting many inquiries about electronic rent collection. Teresa Bitler's informative article tells you all about it and how easy it is to put your rent collection on autopilot. Also, if you like to read about the latest investing techniques, landlording and real estate investor success stories, be sure to check out Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine below!
In this Newsletter, we have:
Please e-mail us if you have any questions or would like to add or share any material / information.
The Check is On the Internet
In 2003, electronic payments exceeded check payments in the U.S. for the first time, according to the Federal Reserve. Three years later, electronic payments had increased to more than twice the number of check payments. Americans have clearly changed the way they pay, and this trend is not limited to the checkout line at the grocery store. Increasingly, tenants are looking for options when it comes time to pay the rent.
TRADITIONAL METHODSChecks are one of the most popular ways to pay rent. The tenant writes his check and mails it; you find it in the mail, process it, and deposit it. The problem is there are so many opportunities for so many things to go wrong between writing the check and depositing it in the bank, including getting lost.
In some tenants' minds, cash is a good alternative. For one reason or another, some tenants deal strictly in cash, but the drawbacks for you, the landlord, are obvious. Cash can't safely be mailed, which means it has to be delivered in person. That’s inconvenient for you and the tenant, especially if you are going to do it every month. If a tenant doesn’t have a bank account or doesn’t trust making his payment by check, he will need or want payment options.
SIDE NOTE — Be aware when the time comes to sell that landlords who accept cash must keep scrupulous records. Failing to do so can negatively affect a buyer’s ability to get a loan on incomplete rent roll accounting disclosure.
WIRE TRANSFERS & MONEY ORDERSOne option is a wire transfer, like the service Western Union offers. It works like this: the tenant goes to one of 55,000 agent locations in the U.S. and pays a transfer fee of approximately $9.99 (the fee varies depending on where the money is sent from, where it is sent to, and how much is being sent). He then is able to pay cash or, at many locations, use a debit card to transfer money to you instantly at another agent location.
"It's quick, convenient and reliable," said Kristin Kelly with Western Union. "Agents are located in grocery stores, convenience stores, and places where you're already going to be."
The process for a money order is similar. The tenant would bring cash to an agent location, and for a nominal fee, the agent would issue a money order, which the tenant could then send as payment. If the money order were to get lost in the mail, the tenant could call Western Union with the money order number and Western Union would follow up.
Western Union does have other payment options like online, telephone and mobile-to-mobile money transfers, but these are not available in the U.S. at this time. Kelly expects that at some point, Western Union will make them available. If it does, it could give tenants additional options.
AUTOPAYMENT BY DIRECT DEPOSITAn online service like PayPal works well when you have one or two tenants who want to pay online. The more tenants you have, though, the more complicated things get because it's manual. Direct deposits put rent collection on autopilot. Instead of waiting for your tenant to pay online, you arrange with your tenant to have the rent automatically withdrawn from his account each month and directly deposited into your property’s account. For the do-it yourself landlord, with a few properties and limited resources, it's easier said than done because the process is more complicated than moving funds from one account to another. Before funds are transferred from the tenant's account to the property’s account, they need to be verified and deemed "good." In other words, there needs to be confirmation that the tenant’s account is open and that sufficient funds are available. This is done through the Automated Clearing House payment network. As a landlord, you can transfer your funds through the ACH payment network yourself, but you need to partner with a bank that can process ACH transactions from tenants. The bank will set up an ACH account, purchase or lease the software necessary to create ACH files and learn how to transmit files to the network, all while complying with federal regulations governing ACH transactions. "You can do it yourself, but it’s very complicated," said Ryowon Kim with ClearNow, an online service specializing in direct rent deposits. "The bank you are working with isn’t really going to help you if you have questions, and they won’t do a lot of handholding." It is possible to have funds automatically withdrawn and directly deposited into your property’s account, Kim said, but you will most likely need the help of a company like ClearNow.
Ask the Attorney
If you have a landlord tenant problem you'd like to ask a question about, please feel free to e-mail me your question.
Personal Real Estate Investor MagazinePersonal Real Estate Investor Magazine provides clear and concise information, reviews and insider advice. Checklists and how-to's to help readers on any budget reach savings and investment return goals. We help our readers find markets and opportunities, then earn the highest returns available on non-traded or real estate related investments. From wholesale SFDs (single family dwellings,) multifamily, and commercial properties, raw land to private placements, syndications and mortgage or equity based REITs - anything that balances an individual investor portfolio of traded asset holdings with more stable non-traded assets like real estate. Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine is the only property investor magazine that has published regularly since our founding in December 2003. It can be found at Barnes & Noble, Borders Books & Music or independent book stores nationwide in business & finance sections. Most Americans who have accumulated any wealth own real estate as part of their portfolio. Unlike traded equities there are few places to go to understand how to best buy, manage and leverage these non-traded assets. Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine is the only continuously published national newsstand magazine addressing this opportunity.
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"I was riding my bike over to pay the rent and someone came up from behind me and hit me on my head. When I woke up my money was gone and there were police & ambulance & people all around. I spent three days in the hospital, I have cuts and bruises all over my head". So I drove over to the house and knocked on the door. She was fine, she just didn't have the money and wasn't going to have it for a long time. Can you say Eviction?
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They been here 14 months and have not paid on time in 14 months. So here's another B.S. excuse. - Submitted by Kathy H., NY
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