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How centralizing and automating security deposit management can save you money

In the multifamily housing sector, effectively managing security deposits is a crucial component of operations. Executives overseeing these properties are continuously seeking efficient methods to handle security deposits, including their refund management, dealing with returned and uncashed refund checks, and unclaimed property management. Automated security deposit management can streamline and centralize these processes and lead to substantial cost savings.

Automated & centralized security deposit management

Understanding the traditional approach

Historically, managing security deposits encompassed various manual tasks.

This includes:

  • Collecting deposits
  • Holding them in accounts
  • Tracking their status
  • Tracking accrued interest
  • Processing refunds
  • Managing returned checks, and
  • Ensuring compliance with state laws regarding deadlines and unclaimed property

Even when mixed with a security deposit alternative – like a bond product, managing the claim takes a fair number of tasks. Each step requires significant staff time and effort, and as the scale of operations increases, so does the complexity and cost.

The power of centralizing security deposit management

Centralizing security deposit management means implementing a unified system or platform that handles all aspects of these deposits across all properties. This unified approach offers several benefits:

Enhanced oversight and control

Centralization provides a comprehensive view of the entire security deposit process, including refunds and unclaimed property.

It allows for efficient tracking and management, reducing the risk of errors or mismanagement, and is crucial for audits and decision-making.

Streamlined processes

With a centralized system, the processes for handling deposits and refunds become uniform across all properties.

This standardization simplifies training for your staff and ensures consistency in:

  • Use of charge codes
  • Description detail
  • Whether to attach damage proof or not
  • Approvals, and
  • Return deadlines 

This reduces the likelihood of errors, compliance misses and resident dissatisfaction.

From getting the files, coordinating approvals and signatures, to having to FedEx packages to meet tight deadlines, many properties report losing a lot of time on the back-and-forth between the property manager-accounting coordination.

Automated security deposit management improves compliance

A centralized system supports compliance with state-specific laws in areas such as interest accrual, refund payouts, and unclaimed property.

For instance, while one state may require annual interest payouts on security deposits, another might demand payout only at the end of a tenancy. Similarly, return deadlines for deposits can vary – some states might have a 14-day window, while others allow for 30 days or more.

Automated security deposit management significantly reduces the risk of legal complications and associated cost by maintaining adherence to these diverse requirements.

This not only streamlines the process but also brings peace of mind in knowing that your property management practices are consistently within legal bounds, irrespective of the state in which you operate.

The role of automation in security deposit management

Automation enhances the efficiency of centralization further. Automating the management of security deposits, including the refund process, can achieve even greater efficiency and cost savings.

Reducing administrative burden

Automated security deposit management drastically reduces the manual workload.

Streamlined tasks include:

  • Managing deposits
  • Processing refunds, and
  • Efficiently handling returned or uncashed checks

This frees up your staff to focus on more critical tasks, enhancing overall productivity.

Imagine a system where instead of manually processing each step, everything from calculating interest to issuing refunds is handled automatically, swiftly, and accurately.

Cost savings

Adopting automation in managing security deposits leads to tangible cost reductions by minimizing the need for a large administrative team, thereby cutting down on staffing costs.

Moreover, automation translates into fewer banking fees and a reduction in financial losses caused by manual errors. This efficiency not only saves money but also reduces the likelihood of disputes and the need for corrections.

Enhanced accuracy and efficiency

Automated systems excel in accuracy and consistency, outperforming manual processes in managing deposits, refunds, and unclaimed property.

They ensure precise adherence to various state laws, which is crucial for both financial tracking and maintaining tenant satisfaction.

Automation also means staying on top of return deadlines and tracking important dates like dormancy and escheatment deadlines.

Better tenant experience

Automated security deposit management provides residents with clearer information about their deposits and expedites the refund process, enhancing satisfaction and potentially leading to improved retention rates and exit reviews.

A key feature of automation includes support for modern conveniences for residents, such as split refunds, ensuring that each resident receives their fair share as agreed upon.

Additionally, automated systems are designed to manage privacy, security, and legal consent for all payment transactions, thereby safeguarding both tenant rights and ensuring property management compliance.

Beyond traditional check refunds, automated systems offer residents a variety of payment options including direct deposit, instant transfers to cards, and integration with digital wallets like Google Pay and Apple Wallet.

This adaptation not only speeds up the refund process for residents but also caters to the needs of both tech-savvy and unbanked individuals.

Automated & centralized security deposit management

The financial implications of automated security deposit management

Labor cost reductions

Significant savings come from reduced labor costs. Automation of routine tasks, like refund processing and managing unclaimed property, greatly reduces the time staff spend on these activities.

Legal and compliance savings

Automated systems help ensure compliance with state and local laws regarding security deposits and unclaimed property. Adherence can save costs associated with legal issues and penalties for non-compliance.

Dispute reduction

Clearer records and automated processes lead to quicker and more efficient resolution of disputes, saving costs associated with prolonged disputes.

Implementing centralization and automation

When exploring options for a security deposit automation system, prioritize a solution that offers comprehensive integration with leading third-party property management systems, such as Yardi, Realpage, and Entrata.

Your team already manages a multitude of tasks, so selecting a system that seamlessly meshes with your existing processes is key. A solution with deep integration capabilities not only streamlines operations but also reduces the learning curve and minimizes change of process for your team. 

Assessing your current process

Evaluate your current management of security deposits, including how refunds, returned checks, and unclaimed property are handled. Understand the costs involved in these processes.

Roost will help you complete an ROI estimate to identify and input current time and cost. 

Choosing the right platform

Select a platform that offers both centralization and automation, ensuring it can handle refunds, returned checks, and unclaimed property, and integrate with your existing systems.

Training and transition

Make sure to train your operations and accounting staff about the new system. They must know how it works and what tasks they don’t need to do anymore.

Also, teach them how to direct residents to the provider for any questions about their refunds. This way, everyone knows what’s going on and can help out better.

Monitoring and adjusting

Regularly check how the system is doing and tweak it if needed to get the most out of it.

Often, within the initial weeks, you might find that certain adjustments are needed to align the system with your property management’s specific operations, like handling lease transfers or managing the timing of deposit hold payments.

Remember, processes can vary significantly from one community to another, and sometimes these differences aren’t apparent until the system is actually in use. 

Automated & centralized security deposit management

Centralized and automated with Roost

Centralizing and automating security deposit management, including the intricacies of refund management, handling returned and uncashed checks, and dealing with unclaimed property, is not just about modernizing operations. It’s a strategic move that can lead to significant financial savings.

By reducing labor costs, minimizing errors, ensuring compliance, and enhancing tenant satisfaction, this approach can provide a competitive edge in the multifamily housing market.

In an evolving industry, maintaining operational efficiency is key to sustaining profitability and growth. Adopting a centralized and automated system for security deposit management is a forward-thinking decision that can yield substantial financial rewards.