How to Track Income and Expenses for Rental Properties

  • January 20, 2023
  • OHI

Keeping tabs on rental income and expenses is a crucial element of being a successful real estate investor and entrepreneur.

Unfortunately, this practice is also among the things real estate professionals dislike the most. However, staying clear of IRS trouble necessitates understanding appropriate rental income and expense tracking.

This article will explain how to keep track of the income and expenses for rental property so you can keep your income taxes in check and comply with all regulatory requirements. Let’s dig deeper.

Leveraging Tech Systems for Rental Property Management

Tech-driven property management solutions can greatly benefit you in streamlining and automating property income and expense tracking. Some of the best tools for this include:

  • Income and expense worksheets – Mostly, they cost nothing, are simple to manage, and can be tailored to your rental business’s specific requirements
  • Property management software – Such systems are an excellent choice for keeping tabs on the status of a property’s finances and documenting any transactions related to the property’s income and expenses

Handy Tips for Recording Rental Income

Here are some valuable tips to help you comply with IRS rules while recording your rental income from properties.

Include Gross Income

All rent collected must be counted as gross income for rental tax purposes. The term “rental income” encompasses any monetary gains resulting from the leasing out of a property. Thus, the aggregate of all rental income from the properties must be reported.

Report Security Deposits

Rent security deposits applied as a final rent payment are technically advance rent. Once you receive it, you must count it as a source of income.

However, if you intend to return the security deposit to the renter at the conclusion of the lease, you should not count it as revenue when you receive it. 

If you retain any portion of the security deposit for any reason, such as a tenant’s failure to comply with the conditions of the lease, that amount will be counted as income for that year.

Record Other Rental Income

Other income generated from the property, such as payment received for lease cancellation and payments from tenants for water, electricity, sewage bills, etc., must be included in the income irrespective of the accounting method.

Further, the payments associated with the lease with the option to buy agreement are considered rental income.

Top Strategies for Tracking Rental Income Expenses

Track Deductible Expenses

To get the most out of the topline, you need a system to keep track of tax-deductible expenses.

Some examples of common costs to monitor include licenses, property insurance, office supplies, cleaning costs, repairs, subscription services, internet and telephone bills, etc.

Account for the Depreciation Deduction

The average value of rental properties was calculated by the Internal Revenue Service, giving you an estimate of 27.5 years for your investment to keep generating returns.

The property’s worth decreases annually. During that time, you can write off a percentage of the cost of the property thanks to depreciation.

Automate Recurring Payments

The most effective property management tools allow you to link your business bank accounts with those of your tenants.

You can count on getting paid on time and increasing your cash flow with automatic rent payments. Even the landlord bills can be paid automatically with these services. This cutting-edge method of handling rent payments and accounting saves a ton of time and effort.

Effective Techniques for Evaluating Your Rental Properties’ Financial Performance

Performing a financial performance analysis on a rental property requires fundamental mathematics and churning out some numbers. Here are some practical terms you must be aware of while analyzing a rental property:

Net Operating Income (NOI)

It depicts the figure after subtracting operating expenses from the rental income generated from the property. Consider this a high-level profitability roadmap.

After totaling the rental income, you deduct the costs of maintaining the property (including taxes, repairs, condo fees, and utility bills). If the resultant figure comes out to be poorly positive or negative, it’s alarming.  

Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate)

When purchasing an investment property with cash, the capitalization rate (cap rate) is a critical factor to consider.

A capitalization rate, or cap rate, is useful for a few reasons, but most notably as a tool for contrasting different investment opportunities. 

Cap rate= NOI/Purchase Price x 100.

Cash on Cash Return (CoC)

If you have several rental properties to choose from, the cash-on-cash return can help narrow down the options. CoC operates as follows: a simple calculation is to divide the annual cash flow by the entire amount of money invested.

Cash on Cash Return = (Annual Cash Flow/Total Cash Invested) × 100%

Furthermore, ensure to factor the mortgage payments into your annual cash flow projections.

Reporting Rental Income and Expenses on Your Taxes

Rental property income, costs, and depreciation are reported on Schedule E, Part I of IRS Form 1040 or 1040-SR. Rent property depreciation for use on Schedule E can be calculated using Form 4562. Fill out as many Schedule Es as necessary to list all your rental properties if there are more than three.

While claiming landlord tax deductions, keep in mind that the passive activity loss regulations and the at-risk rules may limit your yearly loss if your rental expenditure exceeds your rental income, as is the case with a newly constructed rental property that is unoccupied.

To find out if your loss is limited, you should review Form 6198 (At-Risk Limitations) and Form 8582 (Passive Activity Loss Limitations).

Some Valuable Tips for Forecasting and Budgeting Future Expenses

Consult Local Property Managers

If you’re looking for reliable data about rental expenses and efficient budgeting in your area, property managers are your best bet because they have firsthand experience with the market.

Network with Other Investors and Professionals

Your new acquaintances can inform you about the costs of renting a similar property and offer other helpful budgeting recommendations.

Focus on Prominent Rental Expenses

Beyond the monthly mortgage payment, landlords have no other recurring monthly costs. However, they are occasionally struck with out-of-the-ordinary costs, such as vacancies, CapEx, landlord insurance, maintenance, etc., that can significantly impact their budget.

The key is to anticipate the long-term average costs with sufficient precision, such that they can be accounted for in a monthly budget, regardless of whether or not they arise in any given month.


Owning and operating rental property can help people and businesses generate long-term value, but it’s vital that you keep track of rental income and expenses.

The reasons are simple. Precise tracking and reporting of rental income received and expenses incurred helps make the most of landlord tax deductions while complying with IRS laws.

Thus, overall it helps keep the property business up and running while saving vital time and effort for scaling and expansion.

About Us

OHI is a sixteen-year-old real estate services company working with 75+ commercial and residential real estate developers, funds and property management companies across USA. Our deep expertise in real estate accounting, financial analysis, lease administration and asset management has helped clients cut associated costs by 40-50%. We now provide these services to a portfolio of 100000 units across clients.

We invite you to experience finance and accounting outsourcing through us.

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