by Leslie Hyman
Apartment operators across the country have been trying to effectively accommodate modern renters and meet them where they’re at in different phases of the resident lifecycle. Many new processes and technologies have streamlined the leasing journey, provided flexibility in touring and created automated, customized experiences for residents. But operators are looking beyond leasing and identifying other opportunities to assist residents and create even better, more enjoyable living experiences.
One of the largest areas operators can make a notable impact is by supporting residents’ financial health. In an ever-evolving economy, many renters are getting paid differently than traditional full-time salaries. They may have multiple sources of income, different payment schedules and various methods of payment, which can often be difficult to juggle with the standard rent due date. Many operators recognize the evolution of the workforce and how that impacts residents, so they are embracing different financial amenities that can better support residents.
Here are some of the ways operators are better accommodating renters in an ever-evolving economy:
Automated, customized payment schedules
At the forefront of innovative financial amenity offerings are payment technology platforms that provide a comprehensive and customized way for renters to better manage their income with rent payments. As many renters have volatile income, extending a customized payment schedule can be the difference between residents consistently making on-time rent payments or becoming delinquent and getting stuck in a debt cycle.
The nature of volatile income is that no two renters have the same payment schedule or cash flow. When that reality is juxtaposed with the traditional first-of-the-month rent due date, it causes financial challenges for many residents – not because they can’t pay rent, but because their cash flow is so variable. Residents are not always able to align their deposits with when rent is due and may need some wiggle room.
Operators acknowledge these financial challenges and are beginning to leverage automation to offer residents more customized ways to make payments that better align with their income. If residents have a bit of versatility for rent, should they need it, they are more likely to make on-time payments. Our data shows a 17.5% increase in on-time payments when residents have access to an automated, customized payment schedule.
Modern renters are used to having flexibility in their lives, from how they work and play to how they shop and travel. They expect that same flexibility when it comes to living in an apartment. Operators are incorporating more flexibility into the resident lifecycle, from leasing and security deposits to paying rent, and understand this quality is becoming a non-negotiable for the renters of today.
Modernized rent payments
Another area operators are catering more to residents in an evolving economy is by allowing renters to select how they’d like to pay rent. Renters with volatile income also get paid in different ways, whether it’s through a direct deposit, check by mail or cash. Many have multiple streams of income in different formats.
Operators already know the benefits of offering multiple options for leasing and touring, so they’re beginning to offer residents a choice for how they’d like to make their largest monthly payment, whether it’s through a payment app, credit/debit, ACH or cash. Many consumers are used to making digital payments and well-versed in the world of payment apps. Affording a more modernized approach to rent payments speaks the language of modern consumers and allows residents to pay in a way that works best for them.
Many facets of rental housing have become extremely modernized, and payment innovation is making a significant impact on digitally-savvy renters who desire flexibility and choice. It allows them to have more control over their rent payments while simultaneously building financial stability. This is an amenity that truly accommodates renters and provides the support necessary to develop rent payment consistency while building financial stability.
Credit monitoring and reporting
An important aspect of financial stability in today’s economy is a credit score. A high credit score is currency and a crucial component to financial health; it allows consumers to get better interest rates, qualify for loans, get lower insurance premiums, have access to more housing and more. Nearly all apartment rental applications include a credit check, and most renters can’t rent an apartment if their credit score is below 600.
Historically, rent payments have not been reported to major credit bureaus, but rent is one of the largest areas renters can actually improve their credit scores. Credit monitoring and reporting is becoming a more prevalent financial amenity within rental housing. Many renters saw their credit scores tank during the pandemic and are still trying to rebuild it. Renters are seven times more likely than homeowners to lack a credit score, according to a study by the Urban Institute.
Since rent is the largest monthly payment, apartment communities that offer a credit monitoring and reporting feature to residents can help them build their credit scores. When residents make on-time rent payments, communities report that to major credit bureaus to give residents a credit boost. This encourages consistent on-time rent payments with a significant incentive that helps renters create even more financial health in their personal lives.
Supplying more options to make rent payments and opportunities to build financial stability are unique ways to accommodate renters of today – especially when many experience income volatility and are still trying to recover from the pandemic. As more of these financial amenities are rolled out at apartment communities across the country, an increasing number of renters seek out these features. These amenities significantly benefit residents, and in turn, operators see an uptick in on-time payments and a financial health improvement at communities.