Old habit die hard among apartment renters, a new research report by the Washington, D.C.-based National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) shows.

Although the nation’s big apartment firms spend significant sums investing in online and automated rent payment systems, most renters prefer to deliver a check to their property office each month, the report shows.

The survey of 110 leading apartment firms reveals that 74% of firms now allow renters to use a credit card to pay rent. Altogether, 81% of firms let renters pay online with either a credit card or bank transfer, but only 18% of renters make their payments through those methods.

More than three-fourths of renters (76%) deliver their rent checks to the rental property office. Only 12% use a credit card to pay the rent and just 10% rely on automated bank transfers.

"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. And the industry's technology partners must work with apartment owner/operators to address the integration problems," says David Cardwell, NMHC vice president of technology.

It’s not cheap to develop automated systems. Some 70% of major apartment companies hire a third-party company to provide an automated payment system rather than setting up their own system.