Your Water Bill and Your Lease

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Depending on your lease, your water bill can look very different. In some apartment buildings, the landlord receives the water bill for the whole building and simply divides it among the tenants. In other buildings, there may be a submetering system that allows the landlord to bill you for the actual amount of water used. In some complexes, your water bill may simply be a part of your monthly rent. In general, though, a submetered water bill makes the most sense — you pay only for what you use, rather than what your neighbors use.

Cheryl McKinzie lives in a Dallas, Texas apartment complex. Texas laws recently changed, making it possible for her complex to bill her for her water usage. Previously, because the complex does not have submeters for individual apartments, her water use was included in her rent. Cheryl’s preference would be for a complex with submeters and individual bills for each apartment. “When the regulations changed, and it was made possible that apartment complexes could bill for water, they did not reduce my rent so that they could bill for water. They just added another bill…my rent went up, and I have to do arithmetic.”

The billing system is not even, according to Cheryl. “I pay the same water bill as my upstairs neighbors who have three people living in the same size apartment. I use a lot less water than three people on showers, dishwasher, clothes, etc. There is a 2-bedroom in this complex that is 47 square feet larger than mine. There is one apartment that I know of that has five people in it (students). I have paid for their water month after month…I realize that they say we are not paying for the pool, the sprinkler system, the clubhouse, the offices, but they are all billed together on one massive water bill. How does the management determine what is theirs? I am pretty sure I am paying for the pools I never use.”

Before you decide to sign a lease, it’s important to check how your utilities will be divided. It’s also important to be aware of what your legal rights are. In many states, submetering may actually be required. In New York, for instance, landlords must either install submeters for each unit or hold the utilities in their name. Because there are several ways that unscrupulous landlords can take advantage of tenants when it comes to utility bills, it’s important to be very aware of how you’ll be charged for utilities.

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2 Responses to “Your Water Bill and Your Lease”

  1. June 08, 2012 at 3:37 pm, cheryl said:

    I’m in Plano and have the same unnerving situation. My neighbor does multiple loads of laundry each day, and I’m finding my water bill for a l BR never home and no laundry person is the same as a 5-person house. I’m going to be moving as soon as my lease is up and hoping I can find a place that without such socialist policies-

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  2. September 29, 2013 at 11:26 am, wave said:

    we are encountering a similar problem with water bill , when I moved in it was charged by a 3rd party from florida from ista company, it then became yes company we were getting bill in our name in mail , then new managers and we now get a mailing with rent due and water bill ,, which has no name of company , the bill is more than paying for a water bill which includes trash and sewage on a home, when I went to inquire of name they were giving me the water of mesa , which has nothing to do with our water trash etc billing ,, I called them ,,then the gave me the name of the company that does their billing I checked on internet and on the invoice that was sent to us to pay in timy letters it says they are not affiliated with water company,, it has been a month and I still cant get an answer, according to our lease if any utilities are paid separate they are to be in our names, are they in breach of my lease contract, I am gong to call a renters landlord company to see if they can do this

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