This year, as with the last, property rental agents will have to continue delivering a high-quality, personal service with minimum personal contact. As one COVID peak comes to a close, we prepare for another, and the entire property industry will have to continue to adapt to stay afloat.
Johette Smuts from PayProp, South Africa’s leading payment platform for rental agencies, says bank-integrated automation of rent collection, accounting and outgoing payments is the best way to guarantee accuracy, efficiency and a steady stream of income from debtors when managing a distributed workforce and pressured clientele. Smuts offers the following advice for small agency principals:
1. Be aware of tenants’ current arrears situation
It’s no secret that South Africans are under immense financial strain, and while arrears
may have improved during 2021, many tenants are still further behind than before the pandemic.
Smuts, the Head of Data Analytics at PayProp, says managing arrears shouldn’t take up
valuable time in growing companies, where people tend to wear many hats.
It’s important to have a system that tells you which tenants are in arrears,
without necessarily having to check with the bank.
The system should automatically calculate the balance and send reminders to tenants to settle their accounts.
2. Deal with arrears swiftly
Smuts says the quicker action is taken, the higher the probability that the arrears will be settled.
“According to PayProp data, the smaller outstanding amounts are far more likely to be paid in full than large amounts.”
She says that automated reminders and even automated letters of demand help to chase
payments faster and more efficiently, requiring less time and effort from internal resources.
“In 2020, 75% of tenants who received a letter of demand paid their arrears in full, taking on average 31 business days to do so,” says Smuts.
3. Stay front-of-mind with professionally branded invoices and statements
Smuts says smaller agencies should take every opportunity to present a professional
image of their company, and where better than on the invoicing that is sent to tenants
“An official-looking invoice and statement of accounts is far more likely to garner attention
than a file that doesn’t clearly state all the necessary information in a visually appealing
way.” She says that this too can be automated, relieving the pressure on internal resources.
4. Give your tenants a variety of payment options
When collecting rental payments, it’s ideal to offer your tenants as many payment options
as possible to settle their accounts.
Examples of this might include paying in-store at many leading retailers, via instant EFT, debit order or EFT payment.
5. Vet future tenants
But before any of these processes is in place to ensure fewer tenants in arrears,
the one thing to get right first is the vetting process for future tenants.
How sure are you that your prospective tenant will pay?
There are tools available to avoid playing the tenant lottery and rather approaching tenant risk scientifically.
“The biggest challenge for rental agents this year will be finding good tenants,” says Smuts.
“By that we mean those with acceptable credit scores, sufficient funds for a once-off
damage deposit and sufficient monthly disposable income to pay the rent.”
During continued uncertainty and isolation, Smuts says that agents are well-advised to
protect their rentals and ultimately their landlords’ source of recurring revenue during
these tough times. With digitised processes and solid financial checks and balances,
all of which comes with a trusted payments proptech solution.