Why It’s Time to Ditch Paper Checks and Pay Your Rent Online

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Cheryl Savan/Shutterstock

Paper checks have been a form of payment since around the first millennium, but it’s not likely that you’re using them on a regular basis—that is, except when your rent is due. Although some people might still be big fans of writing checks, in general consumers are slowly phasing them out: A 2014 poll found that 37.8 percent of respondents never used a check and 16 percent only used them once a month. 

But even if you’re only busting out your checkbook once a month to pay the rent, this is a habit you should consider ditching, according to some financial experts. Here are just a few reasons why you should lose the paper and go with an electronic rent payment instead.

You may be at risk for fraud

You’d think that paying with good old-fashioned paper would be safer than paying online, but check fraud remains a multi-billion dollar problem—and it’s no wonder, considering that someone could have access to your account and routing number as well as your address, which are all readily available on the front of the check. 

“[Paying rent online] is more secure than mailing a check or walking around with thousands of dollars in cash. More secure for the tenant, and more secure for the landlord, who doesn’t have to give out any private financial information,” says Brian Davis, a landlord and co-founder of SparkRental.com

At the end of the day, a two-step verification process and data encryption on an online payment system will far exceed the security of a thin paper envelope.

Paying in-person (or via snail mail) is inconvenient

In the era of Netflix and GrubHub, do we really want to get off the couch and physically take a check down to the apartment building office—or, worse, mail it to the landlord?

Giving a physical form of payment requires tenants to deliver the check during office hours (an impossible task for most working people), and it can often make them more susceptible to late payments, says Laurel Hillocks, the area vice president at Morgan Properties in the Washington D.C. area. 

“When tenants pay online, they can pay from the comfort of their apartment. If they’re out of town they don’t have to worry about leaving a check. It allows them a lot of flexibility,” she says. 

Paying online has some unexpected benefits

Still not convinced to stop writing checks? Paying your rent online or using your bank’s bill pay feature will save your landlord or property management company hours of labor, and you could potentially see that cost come back to you.

“When you don’t have to have a person dedicated to just scanning checks, that savings gets passed onto the tenants in for the form of renovations or improvements in the property,” says Hillocks.

This labor savings also translates into better customer service for you. “We have more time to service the residents when they have a concern or repair,” she says.