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Why We Still Use Checkbooks to Pay the Rent

A fragmented rental market and old habits help keep checkbooks in existence

In 2007, Arlington (Va.)-based property management company AvalonBay Communities made a seemingly obvious decision. The company stopped accepting rent at its apartment buildings, and started making tenants send payments to a centralized office. Renters could put checks in the mail or use a new online system to transfer payments from one bank account to another. “We were unique,” says Mona Stahling, senior vice president for operational services, adding that in-person check payment was still an option for most landlords. Eight years later, 89 percent of the company’s 80,000 tenants pay their rent by electronic transfer. 

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