What's Considered "Rent" for the PPP?


Owen Yin


Reviewed by


July 10, 2020

This article is Tax Professional approved


PPP funds can cover more than just payroll, but it’s not always clear on what that means. We take a closer look at eligible rent expenses for the PPP.

The CARES Act is the official piece of legislation that created the Paycheck Protection Program. The Act defines rent as "rent obligated under a leasing agreement in force before February 15, 2020".

What's Bench?
Online bookkeeping and tax filing powered by real humans.
Learn more
Friends don’t let friends do their own bookkeeping. Share this article.
Tired of doing your own books?
Try Bench

The Treasury also notes that self-employed individuals claiming a rent expense need to have been eligible to claim a deduction for such expense on their 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C.

What qualifies as rent

In our interpretation of the official Treasury guidance, we consider rent expenses to be any amount that is paid in a periodic manner, in order to use property for business purposes. These expenses must be a result of a signed agreement from before February 15, 2020.

This is a fairly broad interpretation that will allow expenses other than a building lease payment to qualify as eligible rent expenses.

The Treasury’s official guidance has two examples of acceptable rent expense:

  • Rent for a warehouse where you store business equipment
  • Rent for a vehicle you use to perform your business

Based on this interpretation, we believe the following examples would also qualify:

  • Rent for an office space or building
  • Rent for business equipment
  • Rent for a storefront or kiosk
  • Rent for a chair or booth in a salon or barbershop
  • Rent for a personal space you use solely for business purposes, if you were eligible to claim it as a home office expense on your 2019 taxes

Things that don’t qualify as a rent expense

The following items wouldn’t be eligible for PPP rent expense:

  • Rent for a personal space you normally live in but you’ve been using now for business purposes. For example, if you’re a sole prop who suddenly started working out of your apartment because of COVID-19, this would not be considered an eligible PPP rent expense (because you would not be able to claim it on your 2019 Schedule C)
  • Van rental for a week to move supplies (because it was a one-time rental)

Other considerations

Remember, the PPP is intended to protect paychecks. At least 60% of your forgiven amount must be attributed to payroll or owner compensation replacement. If you spend your entire loan on rent, you won’t qualify for any forgiveness.

More PPP resources

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.
Friends don’t let friends do their own bookkeeping. Share this article.

Join over 140,000 fellow entrepreneurs who receive expert advice for their small business finances

Get a regular dose of educational guides and resources curated from the experts at Bench to help you confidently make the right decisions to grow your business. No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.