Expense Management: Reduce Theft from Rental Payment Drop Boxes in Multifamily Properties

Apartment managers have long accepted money orders in order to get guaranteed funds for rent without the potential for theft and fraud associated with cash payments. But a recent news item from Houston, Texas, spotlights another potential issue for residents in multifamily properties using money orders to pay rent.

According to the news story, a group of criminals in the city is stealing money orders from rent payment drop boxes at apartment communities throughout the city. Thieves are able to “wash” the money orders in a way that removes the apartment community’s name, allowing them to use the funds for other purposes. The result: owners are not getting the rent payments, and residents who paid their rent with a money order may be facing eviction for non-payment.

While the impact of stolen money order rent payments can be devastating for both owners and residents, a few tips could help apartment managers limit their exposure to this potential problem.

  1. Ensure that your rental payment drop box is as secure as possible – perhaps by placing it inside the leasing office or an area accessible only to residents. This move could help discourage would-be thieves from targeting your community.
  2. Recommend to residents that they get their money orders from local banks rather than from grocery or convenience stores. Banks are much quicker when it comes to reissuing funds, so in the event that a money order is stolen, the entire issue can be resolved with less time and stress for all involved.

Better yet, offer an online electronic payments solution so that residents can make a safe, secure payment 24 hours a day, without the risk associated with a physical check or money order. Many communities are making online payments their preferred method of rental payment.

Also, consider offering residents an electronic money order solution that allows them to make rental payments at local retail locations that offer this service (such as a Walmart, for example). This option would provide the benefit of guaranteed funds to the property without the risks associated with accepting cash or money orders in the leasing office. And residents benefit by being able to pay their rent without the worry of stolen money orders.

What measures have your communities taken to discourage or eliminate theft of payments dropped off at your leasing offices after hours?


Contributor, Property Management Insider

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Michael Cunningham is Content Marketing Manager at ProofHQ, and the former Managing Editor of PropertyManagementInsider.com. He worked as a social media manager for RealPage, Inc., a provider of on-demand software solutions that integrate and streamline single-family and a wide variety of multifamily rental property management business functions. He is responsible for promoting the company through various media channels, including editorial, print and online advertising, and social media. Michael received his education at Indiana University where he majored in English.

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