No mention of provision for entering rents on the books of account until those rents are collected has yet been made, and no one general rule governing the proper procedure can be stated. The course to be followed is to be determined by (1) the laws governing each case, and (2) the class of tenant.
In England, for example, it is the general practice to credit the property and debit the tenant with rent as it falls due, and to credit the tenant when payment is made. In that country the law provides the landlord with such means of enforcing his claims that he is usually reasonably sure of making his collections.
On the other hand, in our own Southern States, the laws concerning delinquent tenants are less severe, and homestead exemptions are usual. Further, a large amount of rental property is occupied by colored people of somewhat migratory habits, and the flitting tenant is as common as the flitting cardinal-bird, and quite as elusive. In such cases it is misleading and a waste of labor to follow the above procedure, and frequently the cash actually collected is the only asset. Rent remaining unpaid is not only uncollected, but uncollectible, and its inclusion in a profit and loss account may lead to a similar inclusion of other equally worthless and fictitious assets.
These conditions have naturally brought about the general plan of making rent payable in advance, usually by monthly instalments. Such being the case, circumstances must govern procedure. It should not be forgotten, however, that even if rent is not charged against the tenant here as it is in England, there should always be a rent ledger so kept as to enable a concern to determine quickly all arrears which may be due. When preparing financial statements, the amount of such arrears may properly be shown in a footnote.