Q: My landlord isn't giving me a rent receipt, even though I paid my rent. Are they allowed to do that? Can I use pictures, videos, or bank statements to prove that I paid rent?
Rent receipts are a mystery to many renters. What are they? Do we actually need them? Don't worry- we're here to answer your questions and doubts. The good news is that this question comes with a pretty straightforward answer.
Let's start with the basics.
What are rent receipts?
It's pretty much in the name. When you pay rent, you get a receipt declaring that your landlord received your payment. It works exactly like buying a product at the store. That little slip of paper is a rent receipt.
Should a tenant collect rent receipts?
The answer is going to be multi-layered.
If you pay rent in cash, then yes. You should ABSOLUTELY (and always) collect a rent receipt from your landlord. This document should be signed by your landlord and dated. It should also clearly acknowledge how much rent you paid and who received it.
It's worth noting that you should avoid paying rent in cash. Many people all over the US encounter rental disputes because of cash payments. It's a lot easier for a landlord to claim you didn't pay your share of the rent if you're paying in cash.
If you pay rent through a money transfer or cheque, then you don't need a monthly rent receipt. It'll depend on your circumstance. Also, you'll have financial statements to prove you paid rent if the landlord ever claims otherwise.
Now, many renters will use receipts for tax purposes or to avoid legal disputes. Some states have even made rent tax-deductible.
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
If you rent in one of these states, it'll be worthwhile for you to get a rent receipt so you can write it off on your taxes.
Some people may not live in the following states but may still be able to declare their rent as a tax write-off. How is that possible?
Turns out, if you work from home, you'll be able to write off some of your rent! This rings true for just about everyone across the US. If you're a remote worker, we would suggest you hunt your landlord down for those rent receipts.
Additionally, collecting a rent receipt will prove that you paid the rent on time! There will be no way for your landlord to dispute that claim with late rent fees.
Never forget- if you can't prove that the rent was paid, you have no rights as a tenant (to anything).
Does a landlord have to give you a receipt for rent?
Yes. Most states actually require landlords to provide their tenants with rent receipts.
New York, Maryland, and Washington require landlords to give receipts if their renter paid in cash. On the other hand, most other states demand that landlords provide rent receipts in any given situation.
What should I do if my landlord refuses to give me a rent receipt?
First of all, any landlord refusing to provide a renter with a receipt is very dodgy. We would recommend proceeding with caution.
If you have been paying rent in cash, alarm bells should be ringing. That's why we stated earlier that you should never make rent payments in cash. Without proof, any landlord can claim you never paid rent (even if you did).
So, you find yourself in this situation. This is how you should proceed.
- Immediately stop paying rent in cash. Write (don't call or tell them) to say that you will be making rent payments through a cheque or money transfer.
- Many landlords will give excuses on why they can't provide a rent receipt but still need you to pay rent in cash. In this case, buy yourself a receipt book. You can also print out some out yourself (here are a few rent receipt templates). You can find them at office retail stores. Make your landlord sign the rent receipt. Some landlords will cave and sign the receipt. Others might give pushback.
- If your landlord still refuses to sign your rent receipt, something fishy is going on. You can always refuse to pay rent at this point. Claims that they'll take you to court to evict you might come up. What they don't realize is that they're in the wrong. Landlords legally have to provide their tenants with a rent receipt if they ask for one.
- Although they might back down after this point, we would still suggest you look into moving out. It can be very uncomfortable to live somewhere where your landlord presents fishy behavior.
If you don't pay cash in rent, you can still try to force your landlord to sign your rent receipts (especially if you need them for tax purposes).
In a worst-case scenario, you'll still have your good ol' bank statement to trace your rent payments. Getting rent receipts when you don't pay in cash isn't as worrisome or problematic. So, you don't have to worry as much!
We hope we answered any confusion you had over rent receipts. Send this to someone who might be facing similar challenges.
You can find more answers on specific renting problems under our Renters Stories. Check them out if you're interested!
Don't forget, if you're in need of a new apartment, come give us a look! Lighthouse specializes in giving cash back on rent to anyone who signs a new lease with us. It's hard to say no to that extra cash!