You’re supposed to have a receipt for everything, but do you have receipts for what might be your largest monthly expense? If you’re renting, you could be paying tens of thousands of dollars annually without having actual proof that you paid anything at all. There are plenty of reasons why you should request a receipt for every rent payment.

Key Takeaways

  • It's important to have a receipt for your rent payments, especially if you pay in cash.
  • Receipts help avoid disputes and act as proof you paid your rent on time.
  • Rent receipts are also important for your taxes, especially if you have a home-based business.

Receipts Avoid Future Headaches

Some financial advice is universal. Whether it’s a rent payment, high-dollar purchase or you bought something from a friend, you should always ask for a receipt. If problems arise later, your proof of purchase could be your financial lifeline. If the matter goes to court, the judge will ask for some form of receipt.

You might rent from an individual or a large property management company with headquarters hundreds or thousands of miles away. Your rent receipt will help you resolve disputes with all types of landlords.

Mortgage lending discrimination is illegal. If you think you've been discriminated against based on race, religion, sex, marital status, use of public assistance, national origin, disability, or age, there are steps you can take. One such step is to file a report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Use Receipts for Your Taxes

Your rent payments are probably not deductible on your personal taxes unless you live in a state that provides a tax credit for renters. But if you own a home-based business, a rent receipt is a must. Most likely, the portion of your home that you use solely for business qualifies for a host of deductions requiring proof of your rent. For example, if 10% of your home is used for business purposes, 10% of your annual rent payments likely qualify for a deduction.

Beware, though—deducting rent payments isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Talk to your accountant well in advance of filing your taxes and check the Internal Revenue Service's home office deduction requirements.

Receipts Prove You Paid on Time

Some landlords charge a 10% late fee, plus a daily rate or even more if your rent payment is late. If you tend to pay on the date your rent is due or on the last day of the grace period, getting a rent receipt is a must to prove that you paid on time.

Because It’s the Law

Some states require landlords to provide rent receipts. Contact your state’s housing bureau to see if your state has such a law. If it does, ask for a copy of the statute and forward it to your landlord if they refuse to create a receipt. If your state doesn’t mandate rent receipts, create a receipt yourself and ask your landlord to sign it when you submit payment.

The Bottom Line

If you rent from a property manager, it’s likely that you can log into your tenant portal to obtain an electronic receipt. If you rent from an individual or small company, you may have to ask for a monthly written receipt.

Avoid making rent payments using cash. Instead, pay by check in order to have a paper trail to go along with your receipt. Spring for a few extra dollars for a money order if you must, but never plunk down actual dollar bills.

If you have no choice but to pay in cash, it's especially important that you demand a rent receipt each time. It’s the only proof of payment that you have.