Texting tenants

46 Replies

@Trevor Rutherford : If they pay on the 2nd or 3rd, no late fee.... it starts at $50 on the 4th onwards

@Trevor Rutherford  I use ClearNow. erentpayments also offers ACH but you have to make sure what service you get as they offer a variety and my preference is the ACH. Erentpayments is more flexible in that you can debit on the day after payday. You should look at each web site for costs. With ClearNow the more you have the cheaper it is up to a point. They have provided me with great service over the years.

@Brian Ortins  

ClearNow.com I have seen their ads on this web site.

What's the purpose of wasting money sending tenants a reminder that their rent is due? I'm positive they know they have rent due every 1st. Sounds like a waste and not needed. Isn't that what the lease is for?

You can add all your tenants to a google voice account and mass text. You can text an entire group and copy/paste you message in seconds. 

But honestly, for all the features Buildium offers I'd just use that and set up automated emails on specific dates. 

@Chris K. Your rental property is very close by and you are going to physically go and get the rent. You are not going to remind them on the day that it is due and you are not going to hunt them down to get it if they are not there. With that said, how are you going to make sure that they are there so you can get it?

Originally posted by @Trevor Rutherford :

@Chris K. Your rental property is very close by and you are going to physically go and get the rent. You are not going to remind them on the day that it is due and you are not going to hunt them down to get it if they are not there. With that said, how are you going to make sure that they are there so you can get it?

Actually, there is another question to answer first.

Why are you physically going to get the rent?

Does the utility company send someone each month to collect on their bill? Does the car dealer send someone to pick up the car payment? How about the credit card company?

The rule of thumb is a phone call, it's more professional and I have had better success. The only tenants I text are the ones that text me.

Fascinating conversation. Agree that tenants shouldn't need a reminder to pay rent... Wouldn't that be nice.  We use Spark Rent for auto payments.  Tenant has to personally sign up and they get reminder from Spark.  Not all tenants want to pay that way.  Ok, they mail to PO Box the good old fashioned way and do not get reminders.  Late rents get posted timely but may also get a reasonably friendly "looking for the rent" text.  

I know mass texting functionality is built into some large online PM platforms. I really wish Buildium would add this feature as it can be incredibly valuable. 

Most of this thread has been focused on using texting to remind tenants of rent due. I do not remind my tenants about rent via any method (text, email, phone call). I do, however, use text messages to remind them of appointments or upcoming maintenance. It would be incredibly convenient to be able to mass text all roommates in a house, or all residents of an apartment building, saying something like "Reminder: the water will be off tomorrow between noon-1 pm for scheduled repairs." I am familiar with contact groups and group texts, but as another poster mentioned, this exposes each tenant to everyone else's phone number (and subsequent replies). 

Originally posted by @Kenneth Huddleston :

I would say a more professional reminder could be an email, a letter, or even a phone call. Also, what i would do to prevent late rent turn-ins is to charge late fees and enforce them. If people realize that they will have to pay an extra 50 dollars even if it is only a day late, then they will make sure to turn it in on time.

Some lower income tenants rarely use email or borrow a friends computer to do the application and background process.

A letter in the mail takes too long and would most likely be "lost in the mail"

All landlords should have a late fee that is enforced.

Calling on the phone leaves you with no proof you contacted them, so texting would be the best option.

I have every text from every tenant from the application proccess until they stop texting, it has saved me a few times when a tenant has said "I didn't say that or I didn't get the message".

Originally posted by @Trevor Rutherford :
@Chris K. Your rental property is very close by and you are going to physically go and get the rent. You are not going to remind them on the day that it is due and you are not going to hunt them down to get it if they are not there. With that said, how are you going to make sure that they are there so you can get it?

I wouldn't be physically picking up rents to begin with as its inefficient and just creates more work (like having to play phone/text/email tag with every tenant every month to make sure they are there so I can get it). They have the options of making automatic payments, depositing at the bank, or mailing it all of which are much more conveinient and efficient for both myself and the tenants.

But if you decide to physically collect every month that's your choice. Nothing wrong with texting to coordinate that pickup or sending them a monthly reminder if that's what you and the tenant *****HAVE AGREED****** to do.

@Marcia Maynard  Said well, but I would add that you don't want the tenant to rely on you for the reminder.  Help them in anyway you can to make it convenient, but they need to take some responsibility.  I would agree that a text after the fact that they are late and the late fees will kick in.  I think that we all know if a tenant gets in too deep they will never be able to dig their way and we will lose them.  It is important to make sure that does not happen.  I was furious with my PM when I found out that he was going door to door to collect rent, after I had set up a system with several options for them to easily pay the rent.  If he didn't show up and pick it up, they used the excuse that it was on the table and he didn't come by. 

You can make it easy for them to do the right thing, but they still have to perform.

I use texts frequently to communicate with renters; about rent, repairs and about anything else. Anybody under 30 has grown up with texting being the way they communicate. Letters and phone calls are routinely ignored. I'd never send a group text that could expose their phone number to other renters and I'd quit texting should anybody ask. But nobody does. It's how people communicate these days. It also gives me a record of who said what and when.

But to a larger point I always communicate with renters about when it's due and how they will pay. I'm willing to come by if they want; many drop it in the mail or deposit to my account. Even if they do mail the payment I find a way to spend a few minutes each month talking with each tenant. I want to be a name and face, not a far away owner. It's easier to stiff the guy you don't know.

I charge above market rents to low-medium income people, many with past bankruptcies or evictions, and almost never have turnover and very rarely have a late fee. I'm their biggest monthly bill, often 30% of total income. If there's a cash flow issue I want the issue to be with the hospital or credit card company, not me. They're impersonal, I'm the guy who asks about their kids and is always asking if the cooling system is working well or when I can change the furnace filter.

Several have mentioned that the credit card or utility company never sends a reminder. That's good. That means that even though they've much smaller wallet share than my rent they go behind me in getting paid. The monthly transaction cost of a few texts and a monthly face-to-face conversation is negligible when compared to less rent, higher turnover, and higher vacancy.

My business model is a high rent, fast maintenance service, and high touch. I'm not a friend, but a businessman that makes it easy to do business with me. I charge late fees promptly on the 6th, but that is very rare and I am almost never surprised when somebody is late. Landlording is a sales business an renters are my customers. Optimizing their willingness to pay me is part of customer relationship management.

@Sylvia b The electric company does not immediately serve you notice on day 5 if it's not paid. I do. They are not right around the corner, I am I ask my tenants ahead how would you like to make payment arrangements. Most of the say, "you can come and get it." Now if I was managing 50 properties, it would be different. And if their electric is not paid, I get a notice. I will evict for that as well.

Originally posted by @Trevor Rutherford :
Michael B. What do you do when a renter pays the rent late, but refuses to pay a late fee?

I let them know that won't fly. I never let late fees slip. However I never end a conversation on something like a late fee. After letting them know they will be paying a late fee or I start eviction I change the subject. How's your wife doing? Is the air conditioning working well? How's your college daughter doing? Any problems with too much noise in the neighborhood?

I'm not my tenant's friend. But being friendly while enforcing strict adherence to rules is the core of who I am and how I operate my business.

Originally posted by @Michael B. :

Several have mentioned that the credit card or utility company never sends a reminder.

Of course they send a reminder. It's usually called a monthly statement.

If you don't pay your electric bill they disconnect your service. If you don't pay the credit card bill they raise your interest rate, ding your credit score and stop authorizing charges.

But they don't come knocking on your door to collect every month!

Originally posted by @Trevor Rutherford :

@Sylvia b The electric company does not immediately serve you notice on day 5 if it's not paid. I do. They are not right around the corner, I am I ask my tenants ahead how would you like to make payment arrangements. Most of the say, "you can come and get it." Now if I was managing 50 properties, it would be different. And if their electric is not paid, I get a notice. I will evict for that as well.

I don't know what electric company you deal with, but mine is quite strict about late payments. They don't serve notice at all, they just disconnect your service! They offer several payment options, but don't just say, "How would you like to pay?"

Originally posted by @Trevor Rutherford :

@Michael B. What do you do when a renter pays the rent late, but refuses to pay a late fee?

 Explain the rules & give them the choice to follow them or face eviction.

A late fee may seem like a small thing to evict over but if they dictate the rules on this what is next. Its a slippery slope.

@James Wise is there a way to put an unpaid late fee in collections against someone if they won't pay it?

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