21

I am taking a financial assessment. It asks me:

What is your total monthly debt payment (e.g. student loans, vehicles, credit cards, personal loans, etc.)?

Then the next questions are about household essentials and non-household essentials.

But should I include rent in any of this?

  • 1
    Answers will vary, but I generally view debt as longer term obligations (like a mortgage). Rent IS debt, but obligation is much shorter. I consider it more of a discretionary spend because I can choose to rent elsewhere. Sure, I need to live somewhere, but I can choose a cheaper place if I really need to. – acpilot Oct 13 at 14:59
  • 41
    I would not consider rent to be a debt, but rent is a very common expense, there should be a category for it somewhere. – Mattman944 Oct 13 at 15:15
  • 6
    Rent is an expense, and it can be a liability, but it is not a debt unless it is overdue. – Stobor Oct 15 at 3:39
  • Rent and mortgage interest are in the same class of expense. But then mortgage interest is not a debt either. It can be confusing that principle and interest payments are wrapped into a single mortgage payment when they're two categories of payment - the interest is an expense and the principle is a debt. Classify interest as an expense since it's in the same category as rent and debt as the amount you owe. – Stephen Oct 16 at 6:58
  • A mortgage is not a debt as the house is collateral. You will only incur a true debt from a mortgage if you sell the house for less than the outstanding balance (negative equity). – Smock Oct 16 at 13:21
80

Rent is not a debt because you have not borrowed any money from the landlord.

Your current month's rent is a (very) short term liability, as are other payments for services rendered (like utility bills and maid service).

Future rent obligated by a lease agreement can also be considered a liability, or you can consider the cost of breaking the lease to be a liability.

(Overdue rent, though, is probably a debt, but you aren't asking about that...)

  • "Just because the debt, which arose on the date that the parties entered into a lease agreement, was contingent or unmatured, or not yet collectible on the date that the parties signed the agreement, does not mean that it was not a "debt' " courtlistener.com/opinion/1926495/… – DavePhD Oct 18 at 14:07
23

The answer is a certain 'no'. There was a question along the lines of "How can one always be debt-free, given that we get monthly bills?" In that case, we make the distinction between an accumulated debt and regular bills.

I'd prefer not to argue word definitions, per se, or semantics. For purposes of such exercises, your highlighted quote helps make the distinction. The monthly rent, utilities, cable bill, etc, are not 'debt' and go in a different category.

To play devil's advocate, if the rent is $1000, how would you enter it? On 12/31 show $12K in debt due next year? Or just next month's rent?

4

This question of the financial assessment test is asking for your monthly repayment rate for any annuity loans you have.

An annuity loan is when you receive either a sum of money or goods/services worth a certain amount of money and then pay that money back over time through a monthly installment plan. The questionaire is asking you for the monthly installments you need to pay.

A rent is not a loan because you do not own the property you rent. You just pay a monthly fee for using it.

How is a rent different from a debt repayment through an installment plan?

  • An installment plan will end eventually when you paid all the required rates. A rent contract doesn't have such a finite goal. You pay as long as you live there.
  • You can get out of the obligation to pay rent each month by canceling the lease and moving out. The only ways to get out of the monthly obligation to pay the rates for an installment plan are to repay it in full, renegotiate it or by declaring personal bankruptcy.

Note that rent can become debt paid through an installment plan when you don't pay it. When you miss a monthly rent payment, your landlord will then ask you how you intend to pay it. One option could be a monthly installment plan. For example, if you are supposed to pay $1000 rent per month and you missed one month rent, you could negotiate with your landlord that you pay $1100 for the next 10 months. That means you now pay $1000 rent per month and $100 debt repayment per month for the next 10 months.

4

Debt is money owed to another for goods or services (or money) rendered. For example, if you took $5 worth of product from a store (other legal consequences aside), you would be in debt to that store for $5 of product taken. Rent is typically paid in advance for use of the premise for the upcoming month, or other unit of time specified in your lease agreement. If paid on time, rent is not debt. However, if not paid on time, like the product taken from the store, your rent is money owed for use of the premise--back rent is debt.

1

There are several good answers which have concentrated on the 'debt' and/or 'rent' part of the question. For something different and hopefully also helpful, I'm going to concentrate on the 'financial assessment' part, which almost everyone has ignored.

You should consider who is performing the financial assessment, and why.

Pending any further clarification from the original poster, I'm going to assume that someone is trying to decide if they should lend you money, and if so how much, and at what rate. But I'm only guessing and I could be wrong.

When someone is financially-assessing a possible borrower, all they're trying to do is answer one question: how likely is it that this person will default?

They are probably going to feel there is some difference, however small, between:

  • I'm making $2000 in debt payments every month, including rent

  • I'm making $500 in debt payments every month, and also $1500 in monthly rent

As other answers have indicated, all other things being equal, they're probably expecting you to provide them with your information in the second format.

1

According to 11 U.S.C. § 101 (12)

The term “debt” means liability on a claim.

And as explained by the American Bankruptcy Institute:

the Eleventh Circuit held that a debt on a lease agreement is incurred at the time of signing and not when the rental payments become due

So at least in the United States, by federal law and federal court decisions, entering a rental agreement creates a debt at the moment the agreement is signed.

protected by JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 14 at 12:49

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.