Is Providing Tenants with Free Internet a Smart Move?

Posted by Teresa on April 10, 2010 under Housing Trends, Landlord and Tenant FAQs, Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

man-writing-at-laptopIn 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 62% of U.S. households used the Internet in their home. That’s an enormous increase from 18% in 1997, the first year Internet use was tracked. 82% of those users reported having high-speed access, and 17% reported use of a dial-up connection. By October, 2009, some reports stated that Internet-using households in the U.S. increased to 69%.

It’s clear that the majority of American households use the Internet. And, the majority of those users have high-speed access. Demand has been overwhelmingly established. The only question is who pays for it?

Free Internet service is a common tenant perk. In some areas, it’s a given that a rental condo or apartment will come with free Internet—even though it might be bundled into the rent. In other markets, tenants are expected to pay for all of their utilities themselves—including Internet service.

And even though the first quarter apartment rent report showed promising results in some markets, things are still tough in the rental property business. Plenty of competition means owners continue to create incentives to attract good tenants. Is providing Internet service a good move?

Look at your market. Survey and other online listing services for rental housing offers in your category. If the majority of single-family rentals do not brag about free Internet, you might need to provide it in yours. But, if you own an apartment building near your local college campus, and everyone else in the For Rent category is offering free Internet, you might have just found the reason your rentals are not filling up fast enough.

Check with your local Internet service provider about the cost of wireless service. Modem leases and monthly charges vary. Ask about security, too—especially if you have a duplex or multi-family housing situation. You don’t want a situation where tenants are vulnerable to stolen information—and you don’t want to provide free Internet to the entire neighborhood! Your ISP should be able to set up a secure system for your rental units quickly.

Whether you pass the cost along to your tenants or not probably depends on the cost, right? Still, hearing “free Internet” might be the tipping point that makes a potential tenant a year-long lease-signing tenant. And if you’re in need of some more of those, you might want to at least consider providing free Internet.

Automatic Rent Collection: Is it For You?

Posted by Teresa on November 17, 2009 under Landlord Tips, Rents and Deposits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Tenant screening and credit checks on tenant screening blogRent collecting is the number one headache we hear from landlords. Lots of tenants, it seems, cannot seem to pay on time. Plus, there’s the time wasted making collection phone calls, picking up rent personally, dealing with checks and bank deposits, bad checks, and visits to the post office.

More people than ever pay their bills online. Health clubs have automatically debited their monthly fees from members’ accounts for years. Your tenants probably already pay insurance and car payments automatically every month. Why not offer them a way to pay their rent online, too?

Rentmatic is an automated rent payment service that debits your tenants’ bank accounts on the day rent is due, and transfers the funds to your designated account. It’s free to sign up, but they charge a fee of $3.95 for each unit that is on the automatic system (there is a discount for 25 units or more). The company also offers dynamic features like free data storage and an online tenant communication, where tenants can request maintenance and the landlord can email all or selected tenants. And, they offer tenants an incentive to pay online, with a chance to win a $50 prize every month.

ClearNow collects and transfers rent payments through the ACH protocol. The service is $14.95 per month, including one tenant, plus $2 per additional tenant. The service sends reminder emails eight days prior to debiting tenants’ accounts, which is done on the first banking day of the month. Three days after debiting tenant accounts, the funds are credited to the landlord’s account.

Required paperwork for online rent payment services is minimal; you can incorporate the authorization into your new tenant paperwork easily. Be sure to keep copies of all signed agreements and authorizations in your tenant files.

We recommend you also automatically screen all tenants as part of your application process. For more landlord resources, including forms and information on tenant screening, turn to .