My question is I'm a first time home buyer and I want to buy a duplex. Is it ok to have the tenant pay for all utilities plus water. I feel I shouldn't have to pay for anyone else's utility usage.
You can have the tenants pay for whatever you want them to pay for, just make sure it is clear to them and spelled out in their lease. If there are separate meters it is much easier, otherwise you have to devise a way to split the utilities.
Some tenants prefer the landlord pay the utilities, especially gas in cold climates, that way they know what the monthly expense will be no matter what. I have also seen a lease clause stating that the landlord would cover the first $XX dollars of the gas and electric bill, then the tenant would be charged any over that amount.
Someone has to pay the water. Whether it be you or the tenant is up to you and how you want to negotiate it. Typically there is only 1 water meter for a duplex & the owner would pays the water.
There are a number of different ways to go about this. You can pay for the water or have the tenant pay for their portion. Just make sure it states clearly in the lease which party pays what.
The problem I have always had with the tenant paying the water is that the water stays with the property. If a tenant decides to skip out and break their lease or not pay the water bill it will be the property owners responsibility.
It might be easier for you to charge an extra $30-40/month in rent and you pay utilities than rely on the tenant.
I end up eating the water bill on all of my multi-family properties. It is the standard for the area and there is only one meter for the whole area. I have considered going with a sub-metering service, but I think I will wait on that until I own more of the properties on that block or I can get the other owners to do the same.
If you try to split a bill with your tenant you will end up having some complications with your tenant.
Best of Luck
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