A new rental trends report from Rentec Direct has found that while rent payments fell in April and May, rents were more likely to be paid by those with online rent payment options.
Rentec found a 17 percent drop in rent payments in April 2020. “We expected another big drop in rent received for May, since unemployment claims continued to rise in April,” Nathan Miller, company president, told Multi-Housing News. “However rent payments received in May show only a 2 percent decrease compared to the same period in April.”
Among renters paying rent electronically through a bank transfer or credit card, Rentec found almost no change in number of renters paying rent. Online rent payments received in April declined only 1.5 percent compared to those in March 2020, Miller said. By May, the number of online rent payments grew vis-a-vis April, bringing the number in line with the number of online rent payments received in March.
Property management officials have voiced cautiously optimistic views about the prospects of most renters continuing to pay rent month to month.
“Multifamily property owners and operators will benefit from giving their tenants options to pay rent electronically,” Miller said. “With nearly all renters who pay rent online continuing to do so throughout the pandemic, it’s clear online rent payment options increase a renter’s likelihood to pay rent.”
The report highlighted the advisability of adopting online solutions to enable property management to continue, as remote management and social distancing requirements continue. “We can see that in-person rent collection can be eliminated with online rent payments and that renters are, in fact, more likely to pay rent with online solutions, as seen (in) the data of this report. There are even ways for renters who prefer to pay rent with cash to use electronic pay systems. Online rent collection keeps everyone safe, prevents spread of germs and is also a huge time saver for managers,” Miller said.
While some maintenance duties still require an on-premise presence, almost all tenant- facing property management tasks can be moved to a virtual environment, he added. They include rent collection, virtual inspections via mobile apps, online lease signing and virtual showings. “The challenge with virtual property management is maintaining a personal relationship between manager and tenant,” Miller added.
“It will be up to the manager to maintain those relationships and foster excellent communication to facilitate a connection.”
In producing the report, Rentec Direct pulled aggregated anonymous data from its property management software platform, representing 620,000 rental properties nationally.
Data from the first week of May were compared to the same period in March and April.