Most renters in multi-family properties continue to make payments with their checkbooks despite significant investments by apartment firms to offer online and automated payment systems, according to a report from the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC). NMHC represents the the interests of apartment firms in the US. Researchers surveyed 110 leading apartment firms and found that 76% of renters pay their rent with a check delivered to the office, while 12% pay via credit card and only 10% use an automated bank transfer. Renters still write checks despite 74% of firms allowing renters to use credit cards to pay rent and 81% allowing online payments. Only 18% of payments are made online, according to the study. Even though apartment firms can scan the checks for faster processing, over 66% of the check payments received are manually processed. Rather than developing their own system, 70% of the firms use a third-party to provide automated payment systems. The main obstacle for encouraging online rent payments is the convenience fee banks charge firms that accept credit cards, and 79% of those firms pass the fee on to the residents. "To overcome these obstacles, the industry will need to aggressively promote the use of automated payments by ensuring that both residents and property-level staff know how and what type of automated payments make sense,” said David Cardwell, vice president of technology at NMHC. “And the industry's technology partners must work with apartment owner/operators to address the integration problems.” Write to Jon Prior.