Payments & Billing: A Property Manager’s Peanut Butter and Jelly

JEA payments-billing-a-property-managers-peanut-butter-and-jelly

Some things are meant to go together. Peanut butter and jelly. Cookies and milk. In the property management world, having online payment options for your residents is a good thing. But when paired with other services, like resident billing, the results can go from good to great.

Not to mention that if you only offer online payments, you are (literally) leaving money on the table. Why? Because rent is only one of the expenses that residents are responsible for paying.

What if you could create a single bill for your residents that in addition to rent, included their portion of the shared utility bills? Pet fees? Parking charges? The bill could be delivered to your residents either by paper, or more likely, electronically, with a quick link for them to go ahead and pay online. This is what the industry calls resident billing, a.k.a. NOI Heaven.

Offering online payments without billing is like having peanut butter without jelly. Or movies without popcorn. Payments alone are good; but when combined with resident billing, the results are so much sweeter.

Why wouldn’t you pursue resident billing? Here’s what we commonly hear from property managers:

  1. Utilities are built into our rent. We hear that one a lot. The problem is, in this age of conservation, consumption-based billing is better for you, better for your residents, and better for the environment.
  2. We don’t have submeters. No problem. We can easily use a Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBs) to bill back residents in a fair and defensible manner. RUBs can be based on unit square footage, an occupancy factor, number of bedrooms or some combination of those factors.
  3. We don’t have the resources / we aren’t big enough. That’s why we are here. We can remove the administrative burden by receiving copies of your utility bills, performing the calculations, adding one-time or non-utility fees (parking, pets, etc) and producing an attractive and easy-to-read bill. We can even grab carry-over balances from your accounting software for a more complete and accurate bill.

We joke that combining Resident Billing and Payments makes sense, and they just go together, like peanut butter and jelly. But it’s actually more than that. When used in combination, we actually see utilization rates for online payments go up dramatically so there is a remarkable additive effect.

Maybe a better example is ice together with Kool Aid creates a snow cone. Or avocadoes and tomatoes for guacamole. Or tequila and lime juice for a margarita.

The message is clear. Payments alone, while good, have the opportunity to be great when combined with Resident Billing. What are you waiting for?

Originally posted on PayLease Blog


Does A Florida Condominium Board Have To Answer Owner Letters?

Question: I live in a condominium association and serve on the board. Our property manager recently received a letter from an owner with a list of over twenty questions concerning the operations of the association. The letter was sent via certified mail. Are we required to answer these numerous questions?  It will take us hours to answers these questions. The owner who sent the letter is constantly complaining about the board, always threatening to go to his attorney.  B.D. (via e-mail)

Answer: The Florida Condominium Act contains a requirement which requires a condominium association to “substantively” respond to “inquiries” from owners that are sent by certified mail within thirty days of the association’s receipt. The statute also contains a procedure for referral of the matter to legal counsel in which case the deadline is extended to sixty days.

It is very important for these deadlines to be met. In general, in disputes between an association and owner, the wining party is entitled to recover attorneys’ fees from the loser. However, failure of an association to respond by the deadline will result in the Association not being able to seek the recovery of attorney fees in litigation pertaining to the inquiry even if it is the prevailing party.

The law also allows a condominium association, through its board of directors, to adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding the frequency and manner of responding to unit owner inquiries. As an example, the board can adopt a rule providing that the association is only obligated to respond to one written inquiry per unit in any given thirty day time period.

In my view, this is a law that started from good intentions (associations should not ignore bona fide concerns of owners), but is largely used by owners who are not seeking to simply ask a question, but set up a legal action. Therefore, I always recommend that the association contact legal counsel when a “certified inquiry” is received. Further, although many associations don’t appreciate the need until it is too late, it is also very desirable to have a board policy regulating certified inquiries as part of the association’s policies and procedures.

There is no similar “certified inquiry” requirement contained in the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act.  There is, however, a similar “certified inquiry” provision contained in the Florida Cooperative Act.


Originally posted on Florida Condo HOA Law Blog