The Importance of Rent Receipts for Landlords and Tenants

The Importance of Rent Receipts for Landlords and Tenants

by Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq., November 2018

If you're a landlord, some states may require you to provide rent receipts to your tenants. In addition to helping landlords keep meticulous records, these important documents provide tenants with proof that their rent has been paid.

Landlord and tenant reviewing rent receipts

Landlord Benefits of Providing Rent Receipts

There are several reasons landlords should provide rent receipts, including helping the landlord or management company maintain a professional appearance. Rent receipts also help landlords keep track of which tenants have paid and which haven't.

Note, however, that a rent receipt of payment by check isn't proof that the check actually cleared. If the check doesn't go through, the landlord can still, upon giving proper notice, go after the tenant for nonpayment of rent.

Tenant Benefits of Having Rent Receipts

If you're a tenant, a landlord's rent receipt provides proof that you're current with your rent payments. Should the landlord ever claim you haven't paid, you can produce a copy of your rent receipts. Likewise, if a landlord sues you for nonpayment or takes you to court for eviction due to nonpayment, you can prove you're up to date by showing rent receipts to the judge. Note that the the rent receipt does not show whether a rent check has cleared.

Rent receipts also show when you paid the rent, which can protect you in the event the landlord wants to charge a late fee.

State Requirements for Rent Receipts

Some states require landlords to provide tenants with rent receipts. Washington, Maryland, and New York require rent receipts if the tenant pays in cash. Those states, and others require rent receipts upon the tenant's request, while others, including Massachusetts, require rent receipts in any situation.

Some cities require rent receipts even if the state doesn't, so check with your city's local housing board. If you're the tenant, it's better to pay by check than by cash so you have an additional record of payment.

Rent Receipts for Tax Purposes

If your state is one that allows a tax deduction for payment of rent, make sure you get a receipt every month. If the landlord won't provide one, you can prepare a receipt online and present it to the landlord for signature. Include the date, the amount paid, the rental address, what month the payment represents, your name, and unit. To make the process easier, you can also use an online rental receipt form.

As a tenant, you may also want a receipt if you work at home and want to claim a tax deduction for business use.

How to Fill Out a Rent Receipt

Whether you're the landlord or the tenant preparing a rent receipt for the landlord to sign, there is certain information a rent receipt should contain, including:

  • The landlord's or managing agent's name, address, and phone number
  • The tenant's name and rental address, with apartment number, if applicable
  • The date of the receipt
  • The landlord's acknowledgment that he received the tenant's payment
  • Which month the rent is for, including the first and last day the rent covers
  • The amount of the rent payment
  • How the tenant paid the rent, such as in cash, by check, or by credit card
  • The check number, if applicable
  • The landlord's signature
  • Receipt number, which is optional

Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, rent receipts are easy to create and fill out. You can prepare one yourself using the above guidelines or let an online service provider prepare a professional-looking receipt for you.