rent collection

Does anybody have any opinions on best ways to collect rent on multi-family propertys in local area and out of town?

I collect all my rents in-person and I walk through every unit every month.


I live 2 hours from my rentals, which isn’t too far out of town. At move in I give pre-printed envelopes with my PO-box address on them for them to mail checks in. I also encourage auto-bill pay.

Two options are to have the tenants mail you a check. I much prefer personal checks up to the point where a tenant sends a bad one and then it is MOs only.

Have them deposit directly into a bank account that you have set up to receive rents.

Two options are to have the tenants mail you a check. I much prefer personal checks up to the point where a tenant sends a bad one and then it is MOs only.

I prefer $100 bills.


Thanks for replies, I like the idea of collecting in person, because it gives you a good chance to inspect units. But wouldnt you run into the issue of tenant not being home, and having to track them down? Direct deposit sounds good too, but is that puttin to much responsabilty on tenant, leaving room for excuses? Any advice would be appreciated.


I do not chase tenants down. It is THEIR responsibility to call me when they have the rent. If they don’t call by 5 pm on the 4th, I IMMEDIATELY post a 3-day eviction notice on their door. At that point, they owe a $50 late fee. If they haven’t paid within the 3 days (including the late fee), I file the eviction in court and evict them. I do not take ANY EXCUSES - NONE!


If they don't call by 5 pm on the 4th, I IMMEDIATELY post a 3-day eviction notice on their door. At that point, they owe a $50 late fee. If they haven't paid within the 3 days (including the late fee), I file the eviction in court and evict them. I do not take ANY EXCUSES - NONE!

WOW BIG GUY, I can only imagine how many tenants have absolutely destroyed your properties out of spite. I know you will probably never admit it, but I guarantee it has happened many times!

I don’t have a no hype ebook for sale or anything, so I hate to disagree with you, but I have had great results over the years with treating tenants like human beings but at the same time still running things like a business. Maybe it is some strange fluke, but I rarely have to go through evictions and have yet to have a tenant purposely damage any of my properties. Meanwhile, I watch all of the other investors with attitudes like yours end up with vandalized properties and eviction after eviction. It’s actually rather amusing at times to see these people who have been investors for a couple of years and think they know everything there is to know about investing. You can always spot them from a mile away (plus you can hear them) because they have that novice arrogance about them.

Propertymanager - How long have you been a real estate investor?

Is this Lucky reincarnated? Nothing like a personal attack in your first few posts!



No one is attacking you personally. You just come across like a hard nosed property manager and in my experience that has not work. You are a no nonsense guy, so why not be direct?

Either way, you never answered the question. I was curious as to how long you have been a real estate investor?

I have been in the rental property business for 4 years and have several dozen rentals. Now, since you are the self-described “realestateexpert”, why don’t you explain your expert manner of handling tenants. I’m sure we could all learn alot! I’ll get my notepad and pen ready to copy down your expert wisdom!


why don't you explain your expert manner of handling tenants

Duh, hey Einstein, I just did in the post you responded to?? Remember, treating it like a business and at the same time treating tenants like humans. I went into a lengthy explanation. Now that you have your notepad out, go back and reread the post you responded to and take notes. Maybe you can incorporate some of it into your next best seller.

By the way, I hit the nail on the head with your years in the business. Like I said, you can see them and hear them coming from a mile away.

Sorry, now I’ve got it. To be successful in the rental property business, all I have to do is “treat people like humans” while at the same time still “running things like a business”. Thanks! :rolleyes


expert2007, rather than attacking the business style of propertymanager why don’t you back-up your comments with details. Tell us more about how your humanistic focus has saved you money and evictions. How long have you been in the business, what types of properties do you own and what types of tenants do you attract?

Collecting in person encourages them to wait for you to get the rent. You also make yourself a target for the local crack heads. Don’t chase rent. They can mail it or use one of the auto collection services. The service will take the money out of their checking account and deposit it in yours. They will let you know if they can’t process the payment and then you can begin your eviction procedures.

The thing I like about collecting the rent in person is that I walk through every unit every month. That let’s me make sure things are normal and get a feel for possible problems before they get out of hand. I also ask every tenant each month if everything is working. I have more trouble with people not calling about maintenance items than with complaining tenants. It is typical for low income tenants to accept small water leaks; broken windows; and other things that I won’t accept… So, I do a quick walk through and take a look for myself (it only takes a couple of minutes each).

Regardless of which method you use to collect rents, it is not the landlord’s responsibility to chase tenants for the rent. It is the tenant’s responsibility to make sure that the landlord receives the rent on time.

It is also not wise to play games with the tenants. This is a business and I insist that the tenants follow the lease. If they don’t pay on time, I don’t give them a few more days or let them slide a couple of more weeks. That is not fair to the other tenants. Why should anyone pay on time? If I let tenant A pay 5 days late, why shouldn’t I let tenant B pay a week late? or tenant C pay 2 weeks late? Where does it end? This is a recipe for disaster and is one of the reasons that so many new landlords fail. As I already posted, just last week, I saw another landlord that hadn’t collected rent for July, August, September, October, or November. Then when the magistrate asked the landlord if she would give the deadbeat tenants a few more days to get out, SHE SAID YES! That is why new landlords fail - too humanistic for me!

I have several dozen rentals and have many friends that have larger portfolios than I do (one with about 150 units). None of them take a “humanistic” approach and let the tenants get away with not paying on time. This is a business, not Hillarycare for deadbeats!



Keep it up and I’ll be recommending your removal from this site if Mike doesn’t beat me to it.



Nah, She’s ok with me - I’ve got thick skin. Besides, I’m still waiting for some more of that “expert” humanistic advice! I’m taking notes.

So far:

  1. Treat tenants like humans
  2. Run things like a business

plus, I guess that we could add:

  1. tenants offering sex for rent are not whores (I forgot that lesson from the other day). Now that I think about it that story was in a thread titled Tenant Tricks. Maybe it should have been called Tenants Turning Tricks!!!


Thanks for all your insight, you seem very knowlegable for only doing this for 4 months, I also like the way you HANDELED the Expert. Keep up the good work.

I got myself a small mailbox, labelled “Rent Box”, bolted to the back wall in the lobby of the building. It’s got a lock on it, and rent checks are deposited through the slit on the top. Then, I go by to pick the checks up once a month (and sometimes two). This way, it doesn’t matter if the tenants are home.

I even use this method for SFH. Got this tenant always late with the rent, was mailing me the checks. Then I started to call to make sure the rent check is ready at the beginng of the month, and tell them to leave it in THEIR mailbox by the front door, where only “they and I” got the mailbox key, and retreive the check even when they are not home. This house was a bit further away, and besides late checks, got complaints from neighbors about it’s unkempt appearance. The house was kept in much better shape after I started coming by.

Oh, citations from the city, left at the front door, also goes into the rent box. Else, I wait for the city to go thru the records to find owners of LONG past due citations, and by then fines would have doubled or tripled. Tenants sometimes tell me there’s a citation, but not always.

It works well, and tenants know I’ll be there the beginning of the month, and I get real annoyed if it’s not there. “how dare I have to make two trips for the check”!!

While I got myself someone to sweep the sidewalks, change burnt out bulbs, there’s no way I know things are cleaned, and things orderly, unless I actually go there check it out.

And I find out early on about missing shovels, salt for snow, extra light bulbs, long before a snow fall comes and to be told that there’s nothing they can do since the shovel is gone, and no one thought of getting the salt. One year I loaded my car up with “snow melt”, in August when the local Home Depot got a load of it, and got funny looks". A year before, when I neglected to check on this, a big snow storm hit, and the tenant responsible for shoveling snow told me that someone down the street borrowed the shovel the year before, never bought it back, and the local stores are “all out of shovels, salt and snowmelt”.

Checking on supplies in the middle of a storm is not the best time.

Once, I heard running water on three consecutive months while collecting the check, with no one home. Only getting a plumber to come by was it revealed that the main coming into the building sprung a major leak. The sidewalks would have caved in had it went on longer, as the soil around the leak was all washed away, which was the case after the sidewalk was dug up. I called the tenants during this time, and they all reported that there’s nothing leaking inside their units, and non heard any noise. What noise?? A faint leaking sound can only be heard during the day with no one home, not later in the evenings when everyone is home with their TV’s on, turned high.

Another time, I found out that one of the tenants had an unauthorized roommate dropping cigarette butts all over the lobby. I saw this guy coming in the front door with a key, cigarette hanging from his mouth, confronted him, and he admitted he lived there. And he was the only smoker in the building. If it wasn’t for the surprise element of my being there, the tenant and his unauthorized roommate would’ve concocted a some story about a freind who’s just staying a few days. Sound familiar??

Isn’t it better for me to say “who are you”?? and get the startled intruder to blurt out: “but I live here”!! And better yet, catch the litterer with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.

With “unauthorized” tenants and roommmates, when I find out about it, I visit more frequently, and pick up mail of tenants not currently living there. I don’t provide separate mailboxes, but have mail shoved in thru a slot, and then sorted in the lobby with a table I provide. Unuathorized mail is then confiscated, returned to sender (nothing illegal), and former tenants are notified they have mail held for them.

Having no mailboxes hanging outside is a good way to disguise the number of rental units you got, as code enforcers count mailboxes outside the building to determine illegal units. Having 3 or more mailboxes outside a building is just advertising you have an illegal unit if the area is zoned for two. I often drive by neighborhoods zoned for two, and you wouldn’t believe how many buildings got 3 or 4 mailboxes hanging outside, just asking for trouble.

While I can have tenants mail the checks, or deposit them in my accounts, human nature is such that I would not get myself out there with the regularity required. On a nice day would I not say “let me see how things are going on with this rental”. With a rent check to pick up, “yes”.

With multi’s, things can go downhill fast with extended absentee management, and for me, the need to go by at least once a month is the “safety valve”.


Lawsuits are filed when things go terribly wrong, and I can see where “laziness” creeps in after tenants just deposit the checks for you. When you’re there frequently, not only does it prevent disasters, but when you’re in the witness chair when sued, much better to say “the place was immaculate the week before when I last checked”, rather than a “ummmm. I haven’t been there for two years”. Don’t count on an LLC for covering you personally for such negligence.

A neighbor across the street from the SFH rental said to me once “I hate rentals on my street”. When asked why, her answer was “When absentee landlords get their rent checks, they don’t care what happens to the neighborhood”.