With more than 20 years of hands-on, personal experience in property management, Joe Edgar recognized the strong need for a software solution designed for the single-family rental and do-it-yourself landlord. With more than 60% of the property rental market made up of do-it-yourself landlords, Edgar decided to capitalize on his years of expertise and created software to help property managers, like himself, lower their business costs and improve relationships with their tenants.
TenantCloud is a software that enables do-it-yourself property managers and landlords to offer their tenants the option to pay rent online using the ACH Network, through an integration with Dwolla’s ACH API. Property managers using TenantCloud can automate rent payments from tenants and the accounting that coincides with it.
“Tenants and landlords have this intimate relationship but don’t actually want to interact with each other,” Edgar says with a laugh. “So building something where the tenant and the landlord don’t have to see each other was important, while still taking care of their needs.”
With TenantCloud, Edgar wanted each tenant to be able to:
- Pay rent online without a fee
- Fill out an application and lease agreement
- Submit a maintenance request
And for the property managers, he wanted to provide a service that could:
- Collect rent payments automatically
- Send transaction communications to both property managers and tenants
- Pay maintenance providers for rendered services
Enabling the ideal payment functionality for its users, TenantCloud integrated with Dwolla’s ACH API in 2015.
Today, TenantCloud has more than 500,000 properties featured in its platform, with nearly 200,000 users in 6,500 neighborhoods and 60 countries. TenantCloud facilitates the transfer of funds between tenants and landlords as well as payments to maintenance providers. Using the Dwolla integration to access the ACH Network has avoided unnecessary transaction fees for those located in the United States and has helped TenantCloud—and its users—save significantly.
“Our relationship with Dwolla has been great and that’s going on over four years now and through different versions of the API,” Edgar says. “Dwolla has worked well with our product and our users. We’ve loved it and we have been able to grow a lot with Dwolla and look to do more.”
Becoming a Tenant
To sign up for TenantCloud, a property manager can sign up and manage up to 75 properties for free. By upgrading the membership—and paying a monthly subscription fee—landlords and property managers can take advantage of additional benefits.
Landlords choosing to upgrade their package to the standard subscription or advanced package can access TCPayments through the TenantCloud platform, payment functionality that is powered by Dwolla’s white label ACH API.
Edgar says Dwolla is the third payment integration for TenantCloud, with PayPal and Stripe, which are both being used to offer debit and credit card payment options.
“The problem with those (Stripe, PayPal) is they come with hefty fees which are often passed on to the landlord or tenant,” Edgar says. “No one wants to pay that. There’s this ecosystem around rental payments where a tenant needs to pay their rent, the landlord needs to collect those payments, in addition to pay for the maintenance services. We can offer all of that, without transaction fees.”
With the TenantCloud platform moving tens of millions of dollars each month, Edgar estimates Dwolla is saving tenants and landlords more than $750,000 in fees per month by leveraging the ACH Network for payments.
“We can pass on these significant cost savings to our landlords and their tenants thanks to Dwolla,” Edgar says. “There’s a lot of savings to be had using Dwolla.”
To say that Dwolla fixes a lifelong issue for Edgar is not much of an overstatement. He has been looking for a payments solution like Dwolla since he first worked as a landlord at the age of 14.
“Part of the problem back then was that the only software solutions available were for large property management companies,” Edgar says. “Creating something that already does the accounting automatically, then enabling payments in an affordable fashion was exactly what I would have been looking for.”
Edgar explains that with Dwolla, TenantCloud is able to structure its payment flow so TenantCloud doesn’t sit in between transactions made through TCPayments.
He says that when a tenant pays their rent online using the ACH Network, the tenant’s payment is sent from their bank account to the landlord’s bank account. When Edgar pays for maintenance requests, Edgar can use TCPayments to pay the maintenance bill online through the ACH Network. In addition to the cost savings, TenantCloud is able to save its users the time and hassle of cutting a paper check, finding time to drop it off, endorsing the check and depositing it.
Instead, the payment is initiated all within the app.
“Some of our competitors use larger platforms, which can force the business application themselves to take possession of the payments,” Edgar says. “So for a landlord or a tenant, that’s not a real ideal way to handle their payments. Dwolla gave us the flexibility to structure our funds flow so when a payment is sent, we don’t touch the funds. The user decides where the user’s money goes.”
TenantCloud’s early success suggests to Edgar that there’s plenty of room to grow in the market. He says more than 15 million do-it-yourself landlords are managing over 23 million single family rental units in the United States.
And upwards of 80% of renters are paying their rent using a check. That means filling out a check and delivering it to the landlord, then having the landlord make a trip to the bank to deposit that check.
With TenantCloud, renters can pay their rent online and landlords can collect rent payments online, using the ACH Network.
“Do you realize every time you mail a check, you give out your address, signature, account, routing and banking information?” Edgar asks, rhetorically. “Not to mention about seven days of processing.”
As renters become younger, more landlords and property managers will need to find a solution that caters to their clientele.
“Some folks don’t even have checkbooks anymore,” Edgar says. “That’s forcing landlords to look for an online solution with a secure way to pay rent online.”
Edgar says landlords are accepting rent payments through peer-to-peer payment applications like Venmo, but by doing that, that landlords miss out on the additional benefits that come with using the TenantCloud platform.
This year, TenantCloud plans to ramp up their level of competition by taking advantage of additional payment features offered within Dwolla’s ACH API.
“We are looking to compete with larger businesses and being able to access new payment features will help make that possible,” Edgar says. “That is something we are excited to expand on with Dwolla.”