Updated January 2021
Collecting rent is one of the primary aspects of your rental business, and there are many ways to bring in that cash flow. Some landlords prefer their tenants using checks; others accept cash. Depending on where you live, you might even be restricted by your state and local laws with regard to the types of rent payments you can receive.
Regardless of how your tenants pay rent, it’s good practice to provide them with a receipt of payment. This is especially important when checks are coming through the mail or being handed to you directly. Not providing a receipt and proof of payment, especially in the case of rent being paid cash, by check, or money order, can ultimately cause a lot of damage and problems down the road.
If you don’t have the right rent receipt system in place, you could end up in financial trouble. Filing for eviction will be more difficult if you don’t have rent receipts, and you might find yourself unable to collect what you are rightfully owed!
It’s time for you to learn more about the rent receipt. Check out a sample template and learn why you should always be using this simple document.
A Table Of Contents For Rent Receipt Format
In this article, we’ll cover these important aspects of rent receipts:
- The Importance Of Rent Payment Receipts
- When To Use Rent Receipts
- Online Payments: Do I Still Need Rent Receipts?
- Rent Receipt Sample And How To Use It
- State Laws On Rent Receipts
- Put It In The Lease!
- FAQs About Rent Receipts
Rent receipts can be a very important part of the rental process, even if they are given to the tenants in a simple form. At times, they may be the only verifiable way to prove that rent was received in a certain amount and/or on a certain date.
Unfortunately, there are times when renting out properties becomes a he said-she said situation between you and your tenants. In these cases, being able to prove you gave a rent receipt to your tenant can help settle disputes or even win an eviction case in court. That’s an extreme example, but it can truly help.
Rent payment receipts do all the following in one simple slip:
- Provide accountability to both landlord and tenant
- Create a trusting relationship between you and your tenant
- Keep a paper trail of all payments
- Organize received payments
Let’s talk more about why each of these factors is important to preserving your business’s success.
Rent receipts can act as a means of establishing trust and accountability between you and your tenants. By providing a receipt, you are acknowledging that you recognize their payment and that you are not going to try to ask them for more rent that month.
While you would never consider doing so, some landlords will falsely claim they never received rent. This can burn tenants and cause them to be untrusting of future landlords. Landlords who know how to write a rent receipt and deliver it promptly can avoid this issue.
Additionally, providing your tenant with a rent receipt lets them know their payment has been processed without any problems. Tenants who mail their rent or hand in checks will want to be sure that everything is cleared properly, so the rent receipt can act as a great communication tool in this situation.
Rent receipts are a great way to organize your rental payment history. By having receipts from every month you received rent, you are able to easily and clearly see what you have been paid and what has not been paid.
Having rent receipts is also a great way to make sure you don’t let unpaid rent go unnoticed. If you are busy or unfocused, it might be possible not to notice when a tenant’s rent is late. By simply browsing through your copies of the rent receipt each month, however, you will be able to easily confirm who did and who did not pay.
Finally, the paper trail created by rent receipts will be very useful if you ever need to challenge the tenant or rental agreement in court. Filing for eviction, for example, will be better supported if you have a clear paper trail of rent receipts for months that were paid than if you only have your word versus that of your tenant’s.
As a landlord, it is very important to stay organized and make sure you have everything you need to keep track of in order. Use rent receipts to your advantage when organizing your rental business to find great successes!
Are you up to date on your local laws? Did you know that some laws require that landlords give rent receipts within a certain amount of time after receiving a rent payment?
Some states and local jurisdictions even require you to give out rent receipts in certain situations. If you aren’t sure whether or not you are required to provide a rent receipt, keep reading to learn more about why and when rent receipts may be required.
Giving rent receipts for any offline payment is good practice. If payments are made online, a history of these transactions can be checked at any time, but this is not always the case with cash, a money order, or check payments.
There are a number of times when you should be sure to give a rent receipt to your tenant:
- If they request it: It is your tenant’s legal right, in most states, to request a receipt for any rent payment.
- If you want to keep them accountable: Remind tenants that rental history can be provided to credit agencies to improve (or lower) their credit score.
- If it is legally required: State and local laws may require this.
- If they pay cash: There is no other way to trace this payment, so you should always give a receipt for cash payments if you choose to accept a cash payment.
If you are doing your rental payment processing offline, we highly recommend you give rental receipts for every payment that you receive. Being accountable is the best way to become a great landlord, and this accountability will benefit you in the long run.
As technology becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, more people than ever are comfortable paying their bills electronically. In fact, many prefer to handle things this way! If you are using an online payment system for rent, you might be wondering what to do about rent receipts and whether or not they are still something to be concerned about.
Handling rent payments online has many benefits:
- Less chance of human error (i.e., mailing to the wrong address)
- Reduces confusion
- Streamlines payment
- Speeds up payment processing
- Makes paying rent easier
- Creates a digital paper trail
- More secure than paying by cash, check, or money order
When accepting online payments, do you still need to provide a rent receipt?
Yes; you still need to provide a rent receipt in all of the same situations where you would provide a rent receipt for payments accepted offline. The main difference when accepting payments online is that the receipt may be built into the service you are using!
If you are using a rent payment portal, it likely has a receipt feature you can customize to suit your needs. This means the receipt will be automatically sent when the tenant’s payment has been transferred to your account.
If you are accepting the payment online through another platform, you can create a digital receipt and send it back to the tenant. Landlords who plan to do this should include information about how receipts will be delivered in the original rental agreement to avoid confusion about this later on.
Regardless of whether or not your online payment portal can create records, make sure you know how to make a receipt for rent payments received.
If you aren’t sure about what type of rent receipt format you should be using to create your rent receipts, we have just the sample template you need:
|Rent Receipt Sample|
This rent receipt template can give you an idea of how to set up your own personalized templates. All you will need to do each time that you receive a payment is adjust the dates and amounts before handing out the receipt!
Let’s break down the key components you need to include when finalizing your own printable rent receipt.
First, start the rent receipt out with all of the necessary identifying contact information. You should include:
- Tenant name(s)
- Property address
This information labels the payment for whom it came from, for what property, and on what date. All of this information is important for a paper trail and for accounting purposes.
Next, list the amount that is being paid for rent and which rental period that rent is covering. For example, if a tenant gave you $500 for their April rent, you would label it as such in this section. Including the exact amounts and period helps create better records.
Additionally, your rental receipt should denote if the rent is being paid late and whether or not late fees have been paid along with the rent. Sometimes, tenants will preemptively include the late fees when they know that they are paying late. Keeping track of this is important so both you and your tenant are aware of whether or not any fees need to be applied and then paid.
If your tenant still has a remaining balance due, you should include it in this receipt. This will help keep you both on the same page if the tenant is missing old payments, forgetting to cover certain fees, or simply underpaying you.
Though it is easy to assume your tenant is intentionally not paying you enough rent, they may have become genuinely confused at some point during the rental process. By alerting the tenant that they still have a balance due when giving a rent receipt, you can ensure there is no miscommunication.
Additionally, having a record of underpayments can help if you ever need to go to eviction court to have a tenant evicted. Tenants in eviction court may try to claim that they only ever paid their rent late one time. If your rent receipts can prove otherwise, you will have a stronger case in regaining control of your rental property.
Lastly, be sure to include what method the payment was made in. This is an essential piece of information. If not included on the receipt, the tenant could claim they paid in cash and you did not record it.
If you have the payment type recorded on this receipt, it will be easier to double check the status of something like a check or money order if needed. When possible, try to include the relevant check and money order numbers to make this tracking even simpler.
If possible, you should mark whether or not any check or money orders have been processed yet. This is important because there is a chance the money order has a problem or that the check will bounce. In those cases, you would need to collect the rent again, and the tenant may try to use the rent receipt to avoid paying.
As mentioned previously, there are a number of states that require you to give your tenant a rent receipt in specific situations. If you are working in one of these states, be sure you are up-to-date on the current rent receipt laws that affect your properties.
Here are some of the states that require receipts and when they are required:
- Tenant pays in cash:
Washington, Maryland, New York
- Tenant requests a rent receipt:
Washington, Maryland, New York, and many more!
- All situations:
Knowing how to fill out a rent receipt according to your local laws is very important. In addition to statewide laws on rent receipts, some cities have additional requirements. Check your local city code to determine if this type of law will affect your properties.
As with many things, it is always a good idea to include information on the procedure that will be followed with rent receipts into the rental agreement before it is signed. The lease should contain as much information as possible in a clear fashion. This ensures that both parties are aware of processes and expectations, and it can be a great defense tool in court if needed.
When it comes to rent payments and rent receipts, make sure all of the following is clear in the terms of the lease before you sign things with your tenant:
- When rent is due
- How much rent is
- Acceptable payment types
- If and how rent receipts will be issued
- What will happen if a check bounces
- What will happen if rent is late
- What the tenant should do if they have any rent-related questions
Just like you put terms about the use of security deposits in the lease, you should include rent payment and receipt information.
By being very clear about all of these things up-front in the lease, you can help to eliminate problematic confusions later on. Your relationship with your tenant will benefit from a stronger lease, so don’t be afraid to get detailed when working out the terms of the agreement.
In most cases, there are no strict rules about how a rent receipt needs to look. While we have a sample format to help you to create your own rent receipt template, the receipt can be created in various ways!
If you want to keep things incredibly simple, you can buy a book of receipt paper that you can fill out by hand. When a tenant brings you a payment or sends it to you by mail, you would immediately fill this out and get it back to them. These receipt books keep a copy for you and a copy for the tenant, so they are a good way to keep up a paper trail on both ends.
Alternatively, you could create an easy template you can fill out and print, like the one we provided above. Keep one copy saved for yourself and give one to the tenant.
Making a rent receipt doesn’t need to be a complicated affair. As long as the required information is included, the receipt can take many forms. Of course, it can be good to keep things looking as professional as possible. Should you have to file a court case over missing payments down the line, having a professional paper trail will only work in your favor.
Typically, a rent receipt is an email or a piece of paper that tracks the payment that was received, when it was received, and what it was for. As mentioned above, there is no one strict way that a rent receipt has to look like! While some cities and jurisdictions may have sample formats they recommend landlords follow, you can usually create your own template.
Think about what type of information you need to convey and how you want to convey it. If you have a logo or template that is used on most of your documentation, consider creating a rent receipt format that fits into the usual design. The only thing you need to ensure is that all of the information is clearly and correctly conveyed through the rent receipt.
Most situations will require these four main things be included on a rent receipt:
- Date paid
- Identifying information (property address and tenant name)
- Amount paid
- Payment type
By covering these four basic things, you are giving the necessary information about who, what, when, and how the rent was paid. Those are the primary factors that need to be recorded, and it is important to record them as accurately as possible. By using a rent receipt, you can help to make sure that both parties are on the same page.
There are some additional things that can be included as well. For example, you could include a balance remaining or amount due if the tenant underpaid or is still underpaid from a previous month of missed rent. Including this information on the rent receipt can act as a gentle reminder while also building a strong case for eviction court, if necessary.
In most cases, a rent receipt will not be considered as proof of residency. The final decision on whether or not it can be used as a valid form of proof will depend on where you are located and what type of proof you need.
While a rent receipt might not be what your tenant needs to get a new ID issued or to otherwise prove their residency location, a copy of their rental agreement may fit the bill! If your tenant is looking to gain proof of residency, they may come to you requesting an additional copy of the rental agreement if they do not have access to their own copy.
This is a reasonable request and is not something you should be wary of. You can also recommend that your tenant consider using their utility or cable bills, if applicable, to prove their residency.
As a landlord, being prepared to issue rent receipts in advance is always a good idea. It is in your best interest to be aware of when you are required to provide rent receipts before they are asked for.
You should always provide a rent receipt:
- When requested to do so by your tenant
- When it is legally required by local or state law
- When your tenant pays in cash
- When processing offline payments
Whether or not it is required by law, keeping a paper trail of all offline payments is a great way to keep you and your tenant accountable. Rental history can be hard to track if you don’t know when you were paid, and it would be impossible to prove your case in court if you should need to evict a tenant who paid offline without it.
If you are using an online rental payment tool, make sure to check what type of rent receipts it provides and how you can access those records. Online tools often produce this paper trail, so you can save yourself from doing double the work if the feature is included.
Keep Your Business On Record
Giving out a rent payment receipt every time your tenant makes a payment may seem like a lot of effort for a very short sample, but this record of payment can keep both you and your tenant in a better position through your landlord-tenant relationship.
By giving out rent receipts, you can ensure:
- You create a paper trail.
- Rent communication is transparent.
- You are following your legal duties as a landlord.
Remember that giving out rent receipts does not have to be a difficult process. Once you have used our rent receipt template to create your own custom template, you can simply modify this every time you receive a payment. Keep it quick, simple, and easy!
Your business and your tenant will thank you!