A rent receipt is a way for a landlord to provide a tenant with a receipt for paying their rent. It usually contains the dates of the transaction, the rental period, and the amount of the transaction.
Other names for this form include rent payment receipt, rental payment receipt, rent receipt letter, rent receipt form rent invoice letter, and rental receipt letter.
The Importance of Using a Rent Receipt Template:
Though rent receipts are legal documents, you don't need to seek legal advice or speak to an attorney to draft one. Examples of rent receipts can easily be found online. Some websites provide printable rent receipt templates that landlords can simply fill in the blank information and print for their tenants. However, a rent receipt is comprised of such basic, and straightforward information that one can easily create a printable rent receipt in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Pages (for Mac users). The components of a rent receipt are listed below so you can create your own.
Receipts are an often unwitting part of everyday purchases. They are handed over by grocery store cashiers and retail clerks only to form wads in purses, or accumulate in car cup-holders, eventually making their way into the garbage. However, the function of a receipt is an important one. Receipts provide proof that a payment has been made. For large or easily disputed transactions, receipts should be saved in both the payer and the recipient's personal records. A rent receipt, for instance, is an important legal document that can be used as evidence of a tenant's payment to their landlord in accordance with the terms of their rental agreement. Rent receipts should include the following:
Receipts make all transactions more comfortable. Both the payer and the recipient can be assured that their interests in the transaction are protected. In the case that the tenant's payment is made via cash or a money order, a rent receipt may be the only record of the transaction. Furnishing the tenant with a receipt in such instances acknowledges that his or her payment has been received and will not be disputed in the future. Some states even require by law that landlords provide their tenants with free rent receipts. The documentation protects both parties from false claims that the transaction did or did not take place. Using a receipt maker is a simple measure to ensure that a rental agreement proceeds professionally and without dispute.
Most people go through the experience of being a tenant at some point in their life. Whether you're just starting out or you've become a tenant after being a homeowner, being a tenant is about more than your obligation to pay the rent and keep the property in good condition.
As a tenant, you have rights. The rights that you have depend on both federal and state law. In this guide, you're going to learn about:
You have rights as a tenant at both the state and federal level from the very minute you begin your search for a new apartment or other residential rental property. Many states have laws that mirror federal regulations related to landlord/tenant law. When there is a disagreement between federal and state law, federal law becomes the precedent that is followed. In this guide, we will focus on federal laws. If you have questions about the laws in your state that affect your rights as a tenant, contact a licensed attorney in your area.
The Fair Housing Act is a federal regulation that is written to stop discriminatory practices against tenants. This law acts as a guideline for landlords and tells them what they can and cannot consider in screening a prospective tenant. Under the Fair Housing Act, there are a few factors that a landlord can use to determine whether you would make an acceptable tenant. Acceptable factors include:
However, landlords cannot determine they will rent to you based on your:
Landlords cannot use the above information to set special rules just for you or only advertise the rental to specific groups of people.
If you are disabled, landlords do have a legal obligation to make reasonable accommodations. For instance, an apartment complex may provide ground-level apartments to people with physical disabilities. The installation of a ramp is another common accommodation. However, if a landlord owns an older building or if they would be forced to undergo a significant remodeling expense to make the property more accessible, the landlord may not be legally required to make those accommodations.
Fair Housing Act violations are filed via complaint through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Complaints can be filed online or over the phone. HUD then investigates the complaint to determine whether the landlord violated the Fair Housing Act. If the Fair Housing Act was violated, they may assess fines against the landlord. Fine amounts depend on how many times the act was violated.
There are several types of residential rental properties. Instead of addressing every possible type of housing, we're going to focus on five of the most common:
In New York, rent-controlled housing (also known as rent-regulated housing) is set up by state law. According to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, there are approximately 27,000 rent controlled apartments in New York. Rent control usually applies to buildings built before 1947 in areas that haven't declared an end to the postwar rental housing emergency. For an apartment to be rent controlled, the tenant or their lawful successor, spouse, or adult lifetime partner must have lived in the apartment continuously since 1971. Succession is an important concept because people often want to know whether they are eligible to move into or take over the rent-controlled unit after a family member passes away. A family member is specifically defined as a spouse, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, parent, stepparent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, or mother-in-law. 
If a rent-controlled unit becomes vacant, it becomes rent stabilized instead of rent controlled. However, if the unit is in a building with six or fewer apartments, the regulation is lifted.
Public housing and Section 8 vouchers are provided by the government to help tenants find safe and habitable housing. Even if you live in public housing, you still have rights. Public housing is a federally funded program. It means that those who develop and manage public housing must follow federal, state, and local laws related to tenant rights. This includes adherence to the Fair Housing Act. The property must be safe and habitable, with specifics depending on a state by state basis. In some states, working heat and air conditioning may be required by law. Yet, other states may see air conditioning as a luxury since the area doesn't get as hot as in other states.
It's important to know your state laws related to what the public housing manager is required to keep functioning. In some states, when certain things aren't in working order or repaired, you may be entitled to either fix it yourself and deduct it from your portion of the rent or to withhold rent until the issue is repaired.
In public housing, there is a grievance process. If you believe that your rights were violated, you are entitled to file a complaint and receive an administrative hearing regarding the matter. You may also be entitled to the same administrative hearing if you are being evicted.
Section 8 is a housing program that provides financial assistance to people who are renting. Properties that are Section 8 approved must meet and continue to abide by certain guidelines related to the property. Section 8 pays a portion of the rent while the tenant pays the remainder of the rent.
Much like public housing, tenants are entitled to the same protections under the Fair Housing Act as those who are paying their rent without assistance. Additionally, tenants are protected by state laws related to eviction and when they may withhold rent because of the property needing certain repairs. In some cities, it is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to someone because they are a Section 8 recipient. However, it is important to note that the landlords in those cities may not have a legal obligation to reduce the rent.
Section 8 tenants who believe that they've had their rights violated should first talk to a landlord/tenant attorney in their area and then file a complaint with the appropriate civil rights agency.
Sometimes residential properties are leased. A lease is like a rental agreement. Often, the terms ‘lease' and ‘rental agreement' are treated as interchangeable. A lease is a legal contract signed by the landlord and the tenant. It outlines the legal obligations and the rights of the parties involved in the lease. Some leases are for one year while others are for six months or on a month-to-month basis.
Leases can be oral or in writing. It is better for both the tenant and the landlord to have a lease put in writing. This ensures that both parties have a signed copy of the terms of the lease in case of any issues.
Leases have a few common elements. Although we will list those out in this section, it is also important for you to know that leases must be “state specific.” This means that they follow the laws of the state where the leased property is located. Before you can begin a lease, you must first meet the following qualifications:
Typically, leases have the following elements (yours may have more than these elements depending on the state):
The term ‘renewal lease' is exactly what it sounds like. It is a lease that you and the landlord or property manager would sign if there is an agreement between you that you would continue to lease or rent the property. Often when a lease expires, it turns into a month-to-month agreement without the need to sign another lease. Some leases state that there will be no month-to-month agreement. These leases will usually have the option for the tenant and the landlord or property manager to enter a renewal lease. With a renewal lease, you are agreeing to continue to rent or lease the property for a certain amount of time.
A month-to-month tenancy can be created in a few different ways. First, let's talk about what a ‘month-to-month tenant' means. It means that the tenant is renting or leasing the property on a monthly basis. If either party wants to terminate the lease agreement at the end of a month, notice must be given, but it is an option to get out of the lease.
A month-to-month tenancy can be created in a few ways. Some landlords will agree verbally to a month-to-month arrangement. The problem with a verbal agreement is that if a legal dispute arises regarding the property, there is no way for either party to prove what was in their verbal agreement. A month-to-month tenancy can also be formed through a written agreement. The written agreement would still have all the lease elements listed earlier, but the term would be month-to-month. A tenant could live on the property for two months, give notice, and move if they needed or wanted to do so. The landlord or property manager could allow the tenant to live on the property for just two or three months and then issue a notice to vacate the property.
A security deposit is money that is paid in addition to the first month's rent at the beginning of a lease or rental period. It is held until the end of the lease or rental agreement when you decide to move. The purpose of the security deposit is so that if the rental unit is damaged in some way during your tenancy, the landlord or property management company has money to repair it.
When it comes to security deposits, you have certain key rights as a tenant:
Paying a security deposit when choosing to rent can lead many people to experience a financial bind. Getting your security deposit back is important. To protect your security deposit, you should make sure that you document the condition of the rental property when you move in. This may include using a move-in inspection list and by taking photos of existing issues. When you are preparing to move out, make sure that you request a pre-move-out inspection. You should also provide written notice to of your move-out date to protect your security deposit from having additional rent deducted from it.
Often, people choose to live with roommates. A roommate may be asked to split the rent, utilities, or other expenses. However, there are some things that you should consider before moving in with a roommate.
You should talk to the landlord or property management company before you fill out the rental application to make sure that you can have a roommate under your lease or rental agreement. If they agree, make sure that you get that in writing. You should find out whether your roommate will need to be named in the lease or rental agreement.
Understand that if your roommate violates the lease or rental agreement, you may be legally responsible. Similarly, if you and your roommate split the rent payment and he or she only gives you a partial payment, you may be held responsible for the late payment and subject to late fees, even though the late payment was not your fault. This may happen regardless of whether your roommate is named in the lease or rental agreement. Your rental agreement is a legal contract. When you sign it, you are agreeing that you will be financially responsible for certain types of damages that occur to the unit during your rental period.
You should think carefully about the type of person who would work best for you in a living situation. If you and your roommate are unhappy, you're likely stuck together until the end of your lease. In most instances regarding rentals, you may not be able to file to evict your roommate.
Before you and your roommate move in together, make sure that you compile a set of rules. The rules should include how much rent each of you is obligated to pay, whether that rent will be paid by each of you to the landlord or if the roommate will give you their portion and you will pay the landlord, who will be responsible for which chores, who will get which bedroom, who will have access to certain parts of the house, noise control, overnight guests, utilities, and moving out. These items can be referenced in a roommate agreement. The roommate agreement should be in writing. Both of you should sign and date this agreement, and each person should keep a copy.
You should know that your landlord cannot evict you from the property without first going through the court process. You must also be given the legal amount of notice depending on your state. Depending on why you are being evicted, the amount of notice required by the landlord varies. If you are evicted from the property without proper notice or without the court process, it is illegal in most states. This is a concept referred to as “self-help.” If this happens to you, you should speak with a licensed attorney in your area about whether your rights as a tenant have been violated.
Usually, self-help appears in the form of the landlord or property manager changing the locks so that you are unable to enter the property (even if your things are inside). If this happens to you and you must stay in a hotel, make sure that you keep your receipts. When you go to court, you may be able to get reimbursed for those expenses if it is found that the eviction was illegal.
While the landlord or property manager must give you proper legal notice to vacate the property, you should know that only the court may issue an order for you to leave. However, when you find a notice on your door or if you find that you've been locked out, immediately contact an attorney and the housing court. The best way to guard your rights is to assert them.
Make sure that you have a copy of your lease agreement saved somewhere aside from inside of your home. This is important because if you are locked out by your landlord, you may not be able to get your copy inside of your home. Consider keeping a copy of your lease in the home of a family member or a trusted friend. If you have a private office at work, consider locking a copy in your desk drawer. Having a copy of your lease ensures that if you go to court, you will be able to present a copy of the lease that you signed. This is important because your landlord could try to present a lease that was updated or modified.
Additionally, the lease that you signed should follow the laws of your state. If it doesn't, certain provisions or even the entire document may be struck down by the court.
As a renter, the best way to protect your belongings is to have a renter's insurance policy. Even if the owner of the property has the property insured, this will not cover your belongings as a renter. Homeowner's insurance policies ensure the physical structure. They provide some other legal coverages for the homeowner but do not cover the contents kept inside of the home or other covered structure. If there is a fire or a major disaster that damages the home, the only way that you could be compensated for your belongings being damaged is if you have a renter's insurance policy. Renter's insurance is extremely inexpensive. The agent or broker who helped you buy your auto or life insurance can answer the questions that you have about renter's insurance. You may even get a discount for holding multiple types of insurance with the same company.
If you apply to rent a house or apartment and you are denied, you have the right to inquire with the landlord or property management as to the reason for the denial.
Although you can ask for the reason over the phone or in person, this makes it difficult for you to have physical evidence if they provide a discriminatory reason. Ask for the reason in writing. If you are told that they denied you because you have a criminal record, ask for a written copy of their policy related to renting to individuals with a criminal record.
You may wish to challenge the landlord or property management company directly about their policy if you believe that it violates either the Fair Housing Act or state law. When the landlord responds, your options will depend on the response you receive:
Housing discrimination may be an overt statement such as being told that the landlord or property manager will not rent to you because of your gender, race, ethnicity, or another legally protected factor. Sometimes, discrimination is subtle and not as blatant. Housing discrimination also includes setting rules for certain tenants, refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled tenants, setting a higher rent fee or requiring a higher income only for certain tenants, setting inconsistent policies, or ending the lease for discriminatory reasons.
If you believe that the landlord or property management company violated the federal Fair Housing Act, you should contact your local H.U.D office to file a complaint form. However, you only have a one-year time frame in which you can file your complaint. The form is also available online through the H.U.D website.
After you've filed the complaint, H.U.D will investigate. If they determine that the Fair Housing Act was violated, they usually appoint a third party, known as a mediator, to negotiate with the landlord or property management office to reach a settlement. H.U.D refers to this as conciliation. If the settlement agreement is broken, H.U.D will discuss the possibility of filing charges against the landlord or the property management company with the Attorney General.
If you believe that the landlord or property management company violated a state law regarding discrimination, you may be able to file a report with the proper state office. The state office investigates violations of and enforces state housing laws.
You may have the legal right to file either a federal or state lawsuit instead of filing a complaint with H.U.D or a state office. You first want to speak with a lawyer in your state who practices in the landlord/tenant area of law. A lawyer can advise you on whether you have a case for discrimination and whether you should pursue your case through H.U.D, a state agency, or file a federal or state lawsuit.
Regardless of whether you choose to file a lawsuit in federal or state court, file a complaint with H.U.D, or file a complaint through the appropriate state agency, if it is found that the landlord or the property management company discriminated against you, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation.
California has extremely specific steps you must follow if you believe that you've been discriminated against. California prohibits discrimination based on:
California also has its own agencies that you can contact if you believe that you were discriminated against:
Would you know what to do if you ran into a serious problem with the property while you are a tenant? First, it's important for you to know that how you deal with problems will depend on state law. Second, if you come across a problem with the rental unit, you need to report the problem to the landlord or the property management company right away.
The rental unit must also be in compliance with state and local building and health codes. For instance, if you're living in a rental home that was constructed during the 1960s and the electrical wiring goes out, your landlord would be required to have the wiring repaired. However, the repairs or the rewiring of the home would have to comply with the most updated electrical codes.
Common habitable conditions include:
Under the law, you must take reasonable care of the rental unit. Reasonable care can mean a lot of things. In the context of repairs, it means that you let your landlord or the property management company know about issues as soon as possible. You may also have an obligation under the law to make reasonable repairs to the unit. To understand what your obligations are in your state, speak with a landlord/tenant attorney in your state.
If the landlord refuses to make repairs to the rental unit, landlord/tenant law in your state gives you rights that you may exercise.
First, reach out to the landlord or property management company again. Make sure that it wasn't a case of someone simply forgetting or losing a work order. Mistakes can and do happen. However, if the property management company or contracted maintenance company refuses to complete needed repairs, you should contact the property owner. If you do not hear back or they refuse to fix the problem, send a certified letter requesting repairs. Make sure that you keep a log of every time you've contacted them (include the method: calling, mail, or in person). Your log should include the date, the time, and the response that you received (if any). Make a copy of any letter you will send. This can serve as vital evidence if you end up in front of a judge.
In some jurisdictions and depending on the type of repair that needs to be made, tenants have the option to make the repair and deduct the amount of the repair from their rent during the following month. If the problem makes the property unlivable, tenants may be entitled to break their lease and move out without any financial consequences.
You may also have the right to sue the landlord or property management company over the need for repairs. Depending on the state you live in, you may need to file your lawsuit in small claims court because not all states have a separate court for private housing. Before you file a lawsuit against your landlord or the property management company, you should consider any future legal repercussions. For instance, if you are a tenant in a month-to-month lease or rental agreement, you could be given notice to move.
Many people want to renew their lease for the place they are living. The landlord or property management company must renew your lease between 90 and 150 days before your current lease ends. If the landlord or property management company does not offer to renew your lease during that period, you can offer to extend the lease. Your renewal date may be the day after your original lease expires or 90 days after you offer to extend the lease.
It is important for you to keep in mind that there are some issues that can affect the legality of renewing your lease:
Under landlord/tenant law, there are only two provisions that may be added to a lease renewal. The first is the right to adjust the lease terms or rent by order of a Rent Guidelines Board. The second is the imposition of the subsequently adopted rent guideline when the lease is executed while that new guideline is still pending.
Eviction is a legal process, but there are many inexperienced landlords and property managers (and some who are unscrupulous) who do not follow the laws. Sometimes, they just don't know the law. Other times, they simply don't think that tenants know about the legal process of eviction.
If you are given a notice for failure to pay rent and you decide to pay it, you should contact the landlord or the property management company immediately to pay it. However, they cannot request that you pay in cash. Sometimes, these notices have the wrong amount listed. If you believe that you're being asked to pay an amount that is incorrect, you should call the landlord or property management company and offer to pay the correct amount. You should also send an offer to pay the correct amount in writing. Make sure that you keep a copy of what you send to them in writing.
There are things that must be done by the landlord or property management company for the eviction process to be legal. The exact legal process will depend on the state where you live. The eviction process starts with being served the proper notice under your state law.
Eviction lawsuits are often referred to by the courts as unlawful detainers. The eviction notice that you may receive is often called a Notice to Pay or a Notice to Quit. If you are served with an unlawful detainer complaint, you should immediately contact a landlord/tenant attorney in your area. These complaints have very short timelines for a response, usually between one to five days.
Common defenses to an unlawful detainer include:
Retaliation is a very serious issue to assert. It means that the landlord or property management company is looking to get you off the property because you enforced your rights as a tenant in some way. If you've performed any of the following and received an eviction notice within six months following, it may be retaliatory:
Rent receipts are an extremely important aspect of renting a house or apartment. In addition to being a good business practice, rent receipts protect both the landlord and tenant should any legal disputes arise. However, rent receipts are only small parts of the rental process. Throughout this article, we've explored the various types of rentals, the laws surrounding them as well as the aspect of eviction. In addition to learning about rent receipts, you should now have a well-rounded idea of the basic elements of a lease, as well as your rights as a tenant.
Our team at FormSwift created a map that shows rent control laws by state, broken up by states that have rent control, states that prohibit or preempt rent control, and states with no rent control. We accompany this map with a ranking of rental affordability in each state, which we determined by calculating the ratio of average monthly rent to median household income in each state.
 Rent Control FAQ (2016, September 23). Retrieved April 18, 2017, from http://www.nycrgb.org/html/resources/faq/rentcontrol.html Published, updated, and maintained by New York City Rent Guidelines Board.
 #30 Fact Sheet (2011, November). Retrieved April 18, 2017, from http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/FactSheets/orafac30.pdf Published, updated, and maintained by the New York Governor's Office.
 Schneiderman, E.T. (n.d.) Tenants' Rights Guide (Pamphlet) New York City, NY: Attorney General's Office. PDF copy available from: https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/pdfs/publications/Tenants_Rights.pdf
 Fighting Rental Housing Discrimination FAQ. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2017 from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/fighting-rental-housing-discrimination-faq.html
 Tenant Rights, Laws, and Protections: California. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2017 from https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/california/renting/tenantrights
 FAQ: Tenant Security Deposits. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2017 from http://www.tenantstogether.org/resources/faq-tenant-security-deposits
 Stewart, M. (n.d.). Can I Sue My Landlord for Refusing to Make Repairs? Retrieved from May 4, 2017 from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/can-i-sue-landlord-refusing-repairs.html
After you read this guide, try to speak with a licensed attorney in your state who has experience in landlord / tenant law. This guide is meant as an educational resource only and does not provide legal advice.
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