So, you don’t want to deal with remembering to make payments every month, and you haven’t yet set up your account to do auto-payments from your checking account. What are you going to do? Make a prepayment, of course.
And of course Elkins Apartments will let you prepay rent and other charges on your account (or set up those automagical e-payments too). Hey, we want your money too! And if its easier for you, or for someone else paying for you, we are happy to take it…. wink wink.
You can pay any amount you want in advance, any time, and we will make a note in your account as to what you intended the amount to be for.
Living solo? That’s all you need to know.
If you live by yourself, there’s no other considerations. You make a payment in advance, it becomes what’s called a “Prepayment” and it will automagically be applied to any new charges on your account, until the Prepayment is all gone.
What if I have roommates? (i.e. Prepayments and Joint and Several Liability)
If you live by yourself, pay away and anything you personally pay that is above the amount you have due is simply and very clearly set aside and will be automatically applied to future charges. Pretty awesome. You need not think about it until you “run out” of prepayments. If you live with others, it works the same way, but its a bit different because your are all in one big bucket together.
Do you share a place with others? Payments (and charges) go into “the big bucket”
Remember the whole jointly and severally liable thing? Well, when you share a place with others, all your charges and payments are put into one big bucket. And, as you may recall, it’s up to you to keep track of who has put what into the bucket.
This doesn’t technically affect how a prepayment is handled but it does affect how your particular payment may be handled. The important thing to remember is you personally do not have an account but that everyone on your lease shares one account and all its charges and payments.
For folks who are co- and several liable, we treat any and all payments from you as payment for any and all charges. We do this because of co and several liability and we cannot, by the same terms of the lease, change how this is handled even if you want us to. We have to treat all your charges and payments like they are in one bucket that you are all mutually responsible for.
Payments into the bucket will not be refunded directly to the payer
This is because once the money is put into the bucket, we are not responsible for determining whether a particular payment is truly an “overpayment” by a person because it is not up to us to keep track of who has paid how much among yourselves–and we aren’t mind readers, unfortunately, so we really don’t know what you all agreed to amongst yourselves. So, for example, someone might “accidentally” pay a payment in July when one normally isn’t due under the lease, yet that person may owe money relative to the others on the lease… this might even lead to a credit balance (a balance less than zero) but what if Bob paid 14 times, and Steve (the “accidental” one) paid only 12? Then Steve’s accident really wasn’t an accident, and Steve owes Bob (well, owes the bucket…and the bucket owes Bob…). Complex… yes. And your job to keep track, and to sort out afterwards. For us, we simply treat all payments as valid, apply them to the account and if, by chance, there is a credit balance at the end of the lease, then it will be handled as a line item credit on the account reconciliation, that includes the security deposit accounting. In some very limited cases, if all parties to a lease agree to allow a refund to a specific person of a payment claimed to have been made in error, and if certain other account criteria are met, then we will consider processing a reversal of a payment to a specific person. In general, however, all payments, once made, go into the balance, and you as a group should determine who owes the person in the future. And if you accidentally mess up an epayment, contact us immediately because we can usually cancel if caught within a few hours.
Splitting the ‘za
All of this really isn’t any different than when you all split a pizza (just a lot bigger numbers!). The pizza guys don’t care who pays what, and they don’t let you get part of the ‘za just because you paid what you consider your portion (“hey, dude, my buddies are tapped, can I just pay for a couple slices and you take the rest back?” N0pe, the whole pie needs to be paid for, and if you paid 5x what you agreed to, in order to ‘pay in advance’ then ‘za guy is going to apply all your money to the current ‘za if your roommates are deadbeats. Of course, your roommates then owe you, and that’s the key thing here as well. You pay more than your share, it is applied to the account, and your roommates owe you.
Payments are applied first-in, first out
So, when you intend to prepay rent (compared to your roommates), your payment will first go against all existing charges. So, if your roommates have not yet paid (or are deadbeats), then your payment goes against those charges, and not in as a prepayment for your personal share. Your roommates would absolutely owe you, and we can help sort that out if you put a note on your payment that indicates what you intend it to be for (that way, you can look it up later), but you would not have a ‘credit’ on your account in your name. This is because in essence ‘your account’ is your unit’s account, NOT your own account.
This is simply a result of the “all for one and one for all” nature of a jointly and severally liable lease.
The Big Catch: Prepayments and Other Roommates Falling Behind
Here’s the most common situation where trying to prepay rent can cause issues among roommates: let’s say you go in and pay 6 months of rent (this happens a lot, especially if parents or guardians are involved OR if someone will be travelling). This is applied to your account. It pays the bills. In fact, it pays several months of ALL your units charges. Your unit shows not balance due for a few months, then a new charge shows up, and your roommates owe “more than their share”–that is, they will owe not just their usual cut but a bigger number because you’ve been subsidizing them for a while. What have they been doing with that ‘extra’ money? Who knows, but they may not have it now, and, uh oh, what do they and you do?
In the end, the key thing is to make sure everyone has paid their share EVERY month, even if someone prepays rent in advance. Just keep a checklist on the fridge, and check the ledger online from time to time. It will save you a ton of hassle and ill will amongst yourselves (and toward us, because even though its not our doing, everyone wants a target for venting…).
We can help you track the prepayments by adding a note.
BUT, we can help. What we can do is put a note on each payment as to who made it and what they intended it to be for (say 4 months of rent). But this note is just to help you sort it out with your roommates. If you make the payment using the online portal, just use the same portal to create a conversation with us, and post the note there.
How do I check my prepayment and balance?
You will want to have an idea of when the Prepayment is all used up, because we have no way to automatically tell you that it’s all used up until you have a balance due that hasn’t been paid but other than that, you’d definitely be all set and have no worries until you burn through the Prepayment amount. You can check your balance and your prepayments through your online account portal.
Or, use Autopayments
An alternative, by the way, to prepay rent is simply to use the portal to set up automatic monthly payments. Wham, bam, payment made every month, on time, every time, with no intervention from you.