There are plenty of viable options for tracking rent payments, including rent ledgers, spreadsheets, and software. The best option depends on your tenants and their preferred payment methods.
What Is a Rent Statement?
A rent statement is the bill that shows rent is due. Many landlords don’t offer a physical statement and may send it online or through another method. The rent statement should typically include the following:
- Rent price
- Water, electricity, and other utility costs
- Applicable fees (HOA, COA, gym, pool, or other fees)
How to Track Rent Payments
There are three main ways to track rent payments effectively:
- Rent ledger
- Automated software
A rent ledger is a document used to track rent payments, security deposits, expenses, repairs, and more. It typically includes:
- Type of entry (income vs. expense)
- Date of receipt or expenditure
- Amount received or paid
- Outstanding balance (if applicable)
- Description of the item (repair type or if the rent was paid in full)
- Property address or unit number
- Tenant name
- Tenant/landlord signature (if collected in person)
This method is best used for cash, check, mailed payments, or payments placed in a drop-box. It offers a clear process for both parties to sign the ledger in case there are any discrepancies or you need to use the record in court.
If you use this method of tracking payments, it is essential to fill it out immediately to ensure you don’t forget any details.
Rent ledgers can also help track outstanding balances, tax information, lease renewal or non-renewal letter reminders, and budgeting information.
A spreadsheet like Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, or Apple Numbers is another common way to keep track of rent payments. There are hundreds of available online resources and templates to help landlords stay organized.
The sections of a spreadsheet will be very similar to a rent ledger. It should include a variety of sections such as:
- Mortgage cost
- Property taxes
- Management fees
A spreadsheet is a solid option for any type of payment collection (cash, check, mailed payments, drop-box, or payment app).
Some may opt to use a rent ledger and then copy the information into a spreadsheet. This can help in case the physical copy goes missing or is damaged.
Automated software is a user-friendly, convenient solution for many landlords. Those who like taking their work on the go and having access to each tenant’s information will appreciate the ease of use with automated software.
The platforms typically offer a wide variety of services including:
- Tenant portal – Allows tenants to make rent payments, request maintenance services, view rent receipts, and more
- Rent reminders- Allows landlords to automate reminders for rent due and charge applicable late fees
- Online application- Potential tenants can submit an online application to rent a unit
- Screening services- Applicant screening services can include criminal background checks, credit history reports, and more. Just be sure there is a permissions portion to ensure you have a legal right to run the reports and contact their professional and personal references
- Maintenance portal – This area provides a place for landlords to look over maintenance requests, photos, and reply to tenant issues
- Property listing – Some services maintain information about your property so you can easily push out advertisements when a unit is going to become vacant
An automated software program is a great option for those who prefer online payments. Many of the services will track the payments for you with very little if any oversight needed. However, keep in mind most of these services come with a cost. Take a look at the table below to see some popular options.
|Zillow Rent Manager
How to Choose the Best Rent Payment Tracker
The best rent payment tracker depends on individual preferences, the size of your portfolio, and your tenants.
The most important aspect of the method you choose is that you stick to it. Completing some tracking in a physical document and some online may not be beneficial if you ever have to go to court for an eviction. It is critical to make consistent notes, add details, and track every rental payment, regardless of the method.
Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:
Online platforms and services offer some great features. However, if you don’t actually use it, the services aren’t beneficial. Some landlords don’t want to learn new tech while others may be in search of a way to simplify their rent payment collections.
Using a spreadsheet like Google Sheets is a simple and convenient way to document rent payments and maintenance items. It is user-friendly and landlords can give access to the sheet to an assistant or partner to keep everyone on the same page.
Those looking for a more automated system can use options like Zillow Rent Manager which allows them to set their preferences and let the system do the work.
Payments Collected Per Month
If you only offer tenants one monthly payment and only have a few tenants, you may be more flexible in choosing any of the payment tracking options.
However, if you have several tenants or offer bi-weekly payments, there can be significantly more work. A rent tracker that sends automatic reminders and receipts and takes care of the administrative side like Avail or Apartments.com may be the way to go.
There is a rent tracking option for every budget, with many of the available options being free for landlords.
But, keep in mind several options can get expensive. Platforms like Buildium can cost up to $375 a month.
Take a look at your budget while making your decision to help determine if you have some extra money to spare and if this expense is worth it to you.
Preferred Payment Method of Tenants
It is not a bad idea to ask what payment preferences your tenants prefer. Some may find it easy to pay online via debit or credit card while others may prefer cash or money order. This can help you decide if it’s easier to track with a rent ledger in a physical document or keep tracking online.
The best payment method is the one that gets you paid consistently with little effort.