Massachusetts Monthly Rental Invoice and Water Bill
In November 2019 MassLandlords released a new Massachusetts rent invoice spreadsheet to calculate and print rent and water bills for residents. The Massachusetts rent invoice will facilitate prorated move-in’s and move-out’s, monthly billing of utilities (especially water), charging late fees, and splitting bills among joint and severally signed roommates. This rent invoice requires knowledge of Excel. It uses Excel default conventions, where orange colored boxes are “inputs”. The sheet is not “locked” (Excel terminology) so it may be either customized or broken; members should take care when editing.
Regularly Monthly Water Bill
Landlords without pass-through utility charges will not be accustomed to sending a monthly rent invoice. (“The rent is the rent!”) But landlords who submeter utilities will want to prepare and send a rent invoice or water bill monthly. The rent invoice has a section dedicated to water, where landlords can give previous and current meter readings, usage for the period, the rate at which usage is billed, and the total due. This information is needed for compliance with the water submetering statute.
The water submetering law permits billing your renters monthly at the previous municipal rate, even if the municipality or water authority bills you quarterly. It is usually desirable to bill renters monthly from the point of view of renter cashflow and habituation to paying water bills, especially early in the tenancy. Smaller, regular payments will also give your renters more immediate feedback on their usage and conservation efforts. But be warned: rates tend to increase, so your water sub-bills (which use the previous rate) may permanently lag the actual water bill you pay.
When a tenant moves in partway through the month, it is fair to charge them only for the days for which they have possession. But usually we ask the renter to pay “first month’s rent” equal to a full rental period as a basic condition of renting. Some of this “first month’s rent” must fairly be applied to the second month (first full month of tenancy). The “Move-in Proration” section of the rent invoice may be used for this calculation.
The “Move-in Proration” section of the rent invoice lets you enter the amount of “first month’s rent” paid (usually a full rental period), the day of the previous month in which they moved in, and the days in that previous month. Actual usage for the first partial month is then calculated and subtracted from the amount paid. The balance of this first payment is then credited to this month’s total owed.
In our example, the base rent is $1,250/mo. The renters moved in ten days early, on the 20th day of a month with 30 days in it. $791.67 of their first month’s rent ($1,250) has been applied to the second month. Combined with the lock change fee (in this example, $39.95 being charged after move-in) the balance due is $498.28.
When a renter moves out mid-month, it may be fair to keep the full month’s rent. It will depend on the particulars of your rental agreement. For instance, keeping the full month’s rent could make sense if the renter is breaking a lease. On the other hand, if the renter gave you months of notice that they were going to leave on the 12th of such-and-such month, and you will be in there that afternoon to turn over the apartment, it would be fair to charge them only for the twelve days.
In a pro-rated move-out scenario, the best advice is to collect a full month’s rent for the last month on the first of the month, as normal. After you have possession, you will refund any overpayment. This technique leaves you in control when move-out date changes, which often happens. If the move-out date is significantly later than planned, it’s easier to reduce the refund given than to chase your now departed tenant for additional rent.
In our rent invoice example, the base rent is $1,250/mo. They moved out on day 12 in a month with 30 days, generating a $750 refund. We add in our final water bill of $42.85. The refund owed is $707.15, to be paid out of the funds already received.
Billing Joint and Several Roommates
The prorated move-out example also shows how a Massachusetts rent invoice can be split between different bank accounts within a household. Note that we are not running a rooming house with this example. If we were, each bill would go to each resident separately, with no mentions of the others. Different roommates, especially in college housing, may wish to pay partial rent out of each separate person’s account, adding up to the total owed. The spreadsheet will account for whatever rent split your renters request, especially if the rent is split unevenly owing to unevenly sized rooms. Utilities, lock change fees, and other charges will be scaled based on this given rent split.
The total due on the rent invoice for the unit is very clear. This is why the rent invoice is to the “Residents at 42 Lovely Lane,” not to each roommate individually. Our Massachusetts standard lease states that each roommate is responsible for the full amount of the rent, even if any roommate fails to pay their fair share. The roommate portions calculated are just for the convenience of your renters issuing partial payments for the same unit.
Note that we have also provided a space for payment instructions, for instance, cash, check , or RentHelper.
Create Your Own Rent Invoice
The Massachusetts rent invoice spreadsheet is offered to be customized. Download the “blank” version and edit it as you see fit. Check the formulas are correct (email corrections to email@example.com). We believe the rent invoice and water bill is correct, but always consult with an attorney, particularly concerning questions of nonpayment.