Apartment complex switching to online rent payments

Posted at: 01/16/2013 5:54 PM
Updated at: 01/16/2013 6:16 PM
By: Maria Guererro, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A large apartment property owner is going paperless when it comes to rent payments.

But some residents in Albuquerque are frustrated because they could end up paying fees even if they pay rent on time.

A longtime resident at Eagle Ranch Luxury Apartment Homes in Northwest Albuquerque doesn’t want to be identified, but he is concerned over some changes.

"The management has been great, the maintenance crew's great. But here recently they started to change policies on me," said the tenant.

He said he was recently told that effective February 1, his apartment will only take online rent payments.

Automatic payments online with a checking account are free. Rent paid online with a debit/credit card or money order will carry a $25 fee, as will paying rent in person with a check.

"Not real happy with it,” he said. “I'd prefer to have it where I do payments by check. That way I get a rent receipt."

Law Access New Mexico, a landlord tenant hotline, said it has received a complaint from a low income resident at the apartment complex.

"I don't know that there's any law forbidding this and this is 2013 and a lot of people are doing online banking," said Tom Prettyman, attorney with Law Access New Mexico.

Prettyman is concerned this could pose a problem for residents receiving Social Security benefits.

"Some receive them at the beginning of the month but some Social Security benefits don't happen ‘til the 2nd or 3rd of the month," said Prettyman. "So they need to make sure that they have enough money in their account."

The apartment complex is owned by NALS in California. Brad Thomas with NALS said the email must have been sent to this resident by mistake if his lease doesn’t end until April. The changeover to online only payments affects new and renewing residents.

If your apartment wants to do this, renter advocates advise you look closely at your lease. If you’re in the middle of a lease, your landlord cannot change the way you pay rent.

While it may be inconvenient for some, we’re finding it’s perfectly legal.