Still paying rent (or HOA dues) with a check?

Written by Tanya Mannes

Do you pay your rent or homeowners association dues with a paper check?

Most people do, even while paying other bills through automatic deductions from a bank account or online.

That’s because more than half of all landlords, apartment managers and associations don’t accept online payments, according to a study by the market-research firm New Heights Research.

That’s changing, in part because of the services offered by San Diego-based PayLease, an electronic payments platform and service provider for property management companies and homeowner associations. Online: [PayLease.com]

The 8-year-old San Diego company, which reported $8 million in revenue this year, was recently ranked 344th on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.

In September, the company hired Dave Dutch as chief executive. Dutch brings expertise in managing online transactions and guiding the consumer shift from paper bills to electronic transactions.

“There is incredible demand from consumers as well as homeowner associations and property management companies for an option to pay online or over the phone,” says Dutch. “Half the market has no solution today. We plan on being the online solution of choice.”

The company’s competitors include Property Solutions and YapStone, which recently acquired PropertyBridge. PayLease is differentiating itself by being easy and quick to implement, offering flexible contracts, with a focus on customer service, Dutch said.

We asked Dutch about the company’s growth and plans.

Q: Why did you decide to take the position with PayLease?

A: For over a decade, consumers have been shifting from traditional paper-based payment methods to online and electronic forms of payment. Homeowners associations and property management companies are among the last major industries where consumers still predominantly pay with a paper check. There is a huge market need, and PayLease has a perfect solution to address that need. The shift is going to happen, and I really enjoy the thought of leading the company that will drive that consumer shift and transformation.

Q: What are some of the reasons that PayLease has achieved such rapid growth?

A: We focused on a specific industry and we met the needs of the businesses as well as their consumers in that industry with simple, secure, rock-solid technology. … We have wrapped world-class customer service around the solution and also help our HOAs/PMCs market to their owners and tenants.

Q: Why has it taken so long for these companies to offer online payment systems?

A: HOAs and property management companies have traditionally provided value-added services to owners and tenants that are physical, rather than technological, in nature. Consequently, their IT (information technology) staff is thin, especially when it comes to e-commerce. Additionally, there are literally millions of HOAs/PMCs in the U.S. alone with a variety of accounting systems with which any e-commerce package would need to integrate.

Q: How does the company make money?

A: A convenience fee per transaction (paid by the customer). Much like consumers pay a few dollars for the convenience of getting cash at an ATM, they are more than comfortable paying a few dollars for the convenience of making HOA payments online with an e-check or credit card.

Q: What are some of your future plans for this company?

A: Grow, grow, grow.

As featured in the San Diego Union Tribune