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Asia Capital Installs Flex Rent Program Across 6,500-Apartment Portfolio

As jobless claims continue to soar during the pandemic, some apartment landlords are turning to alternative rent payment strategies.

A major apartment owner is partnering with a proptech company to allow its apartment tenants to pay rent on a flexible schedule, part of a growing trend of landlords who are offering different ways for residents to make good on rent in the pandemic economy.

Asia Capital Real Estate has tapped Till to provide a flex rent program for residents struggling to make ends meet in light of the coronavirus across more than 6,500 apartments at 33 apartment properties it owns in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio. The program allows residents to pay rent levels commensurate with their current cash flow. Till also has a program to allow those who owe back rent to make those payments up over time as well.

In return for renters' participation in the program, ACRE, which has offices in New York, Atlanta and Singapore, agrees to defer all late fees and halt evictions even after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium ends, so long as the renter remains in the program.

“With the same monthly rent spread out into several chunks, fewer renters are missing payments, which means a decline in renter late fees and evictions,” ACRE founding partner Les Menkes said in a statement.

To qualify, though, renters must have some form of income, whether government assistance, unemployment benefits, part-time job money or alimony, a Till spokesperson told Bisnow in an email.

"Our system is able to take all of that cash flow into consideration when creating these payment plans," a Till spokesperson said. "That being said, in the rare instance of a renter truly having no cash flow for a prolonged period of time, we would not be able to create a plan for them."

Till's flexible rent program is operating in 170 apartment properties across 14 states and encompassing 30,000 units, according to company information. At those properties, up to 30% of residents are participating in the program.

As the coronavirus pandemic caused a surge in unemployment, many apartment landlords turned to alternative payment methods to cope with cash-strapped residents, especially as a number of renters opted out of automatic rent payment options during the early months of the pandemic, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council.

Experts say the lack of a second stimulus bill could lead to more tenants having trouble making rent, and multifamily advocates are lobbying for federal direct rental assistance.

“While eviction moratoriums have been enacted, many renters are falling numerous months behind on their payments, and are facing the likely prospect of evictions when the moratoriums expire,” Till CEO David Sullivan said in a release. “Because our platform looks beyond the salary and examines the entirety of a renter’s cash flow, it is able to create a payment plan that is viable even for renters who may be temporarily unemployed.”