News update with potential impact on the rental industry: The United States Postal Service, in additional to a rate increase, made changes to delivery time frames that took effect this month which may result in rent payments and other important correspondence to take longer to arrive.
USPS indicates in the Federal Register, for the minority of first-class mail affected by the slower delivery window ‘the standard would only change by one or two days (with most of such volume experiencing a one-day change)’.
USPS indicates these changes in service standards will improve delivery reliability, consistency, and efficiency. But for the rental industry the impact may be felt by both the landlord and the tenant. Landlords may receive and process mailed rent payments later than usual impacting cash flow, owner disbursements, and the like while tenants may experience late fees for payments not received during the grace period.
For this reason, it would be important to follow the USPS suggestion for items that require a deadline to plan ahead and send earlier. Items for landlords, property managers, and tenants to consider mailing early could include:
For Landlords — tenant statements, invoices, and lease agreements
For Property Management Companies — the above plus management contracts, owner statements, owner disbursements
For Tenants — rent payments, returning signed lease agreements, and any other correspondence requiring a deadline.
With these USPS changes in mind, now is a good time to inform your tenants how these postal delivery changes may impact receiving and processing their rent payments and to encourage them to mail in their payments earlier to avoid late fees.
USPS Price Changes
In addition to delivery time changes, the United States Postal Service has also increased pricing approximately 6.9 percent across their first-class service offerings and 8.8 percent for package services effective August 29, 2021.
Typically postage increases are tied to the rate of inflation but to counteract agency financial losses, the Postal Regulatory Commission has approved the US Postal Service to increase prices more significantly. In that, they have initiated a 10 year plan they have been approved to Unless there is an earlier increase proposed, the next raise in pricing is anticipated to be much higher and scheduled for July 2022.
The slowing down of the mail service combined with the increase in pricing is to help the service recover their losses; about 90 billion since 2007.
What these postal changes mean for landlords and tenants:
It has not been determined whether the USPS will continue to add additional delays in the future but it is clear that with their 10 year financial plan prices will continue to increase. Bottom line, now is a good time to try out new solutions to save time and money.
Tenant News: Postal delivery changes may make your rent payment late next month if you pay by check or money order! A good reason to pay rent online!
Three Alternatives to Relying on Postal Mail
1. Offer online rent payment options
You’d be surprised how many tenants would be willing to pay their rent online instead of mailing a check. According to the Rentec Direct’s 2020 Rental Trend whitepaper, online rental payment options increases the likelihood of rent payments received in a timely manner.
The complete whitepaper can be read, downloaded, or printed here: Rentec Direct 2020 Rental Trends | The Impact on COVID-19 on Rent Payments
Logging into their tenant portal makes scheduling and payments much easier for them and the bonus is to avoid late fees from postal delivery delays.
As the landlord, payment is automatically recorded in your property management software and payment is delivered to your bank account quickly.
2. Offer cash and check alternatives
Over 14 million unbanked American adults rely on cash and money orders to pay for expenses such as rent payments. But, did you know there were alternatives to accepting cash and checks as payment types?
Many landlord software programs partner with Cash Payment Networks such as PayNearMe that allow tenants to pay their rent in cash at conveniently located neighborhood stores in their network.
Bonus Insights: A Modern Rent Payment Option for Money Orders, Cash, and Checks
3. Go Paperless
To avoid mailing delays and increasing mail delivery costs, consider moving towards a paperless office environment:
- Send automated rent statements by email through your property management software.
- Use electronic signatures and delivery of lease agreements, management agreements, and other important documents requiring signatures.
- Most property management software comes with an accounting component which often allows you to sync your bank statement data eliminating the need for paper bank statements.
Perhaps in the near future the postal service providers will find electronic alternatives to traditional snail mail, but in the meantime, to insure rent payments are received on time, choosing a property management software company that supports both landlords and tenants through online and electronic payment options can be a game changer with fewer late fees for tenants and better resources for landlords.