Multi-Family and Apartment Investing

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Jason Winter
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
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Small Multi-Family Water

Jason Winter
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
Posted Oct 20 2022, 10:33

Hello BP Community,

I have a small MF (triplex) property in Philadelphia PA. The tenants pay their own gas and electric but like most mf properties in the city, the landlord is responsible for water. Recently the water bills have been high and the last months bill is extraordinarily high for 3 units. How do I address this? 

My first response is to reach out to the tenants and inform them of the extremely high water bill and to ask them to check if there are any leaky faucets or running toilets. I assume that wont go anywhere so i'm hoping to get some more experienced advice on this. I appreciate any and all feedback.

Thanks,

Jason W

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Scott Mac
  • Austin, TX
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Scott Mac
  • Austin, TX
Replied Oct 20 2022, 10:46

Put your ear to the main line into the place and listen for running water.

Look at your water heaters for water on the floor below one of them.

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Eric Greenberg
  • Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
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Eric Greenberg
  • Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
Replied Oct 20 2022, 13:24

Id go and do a quick inspection of each unit. Make sure toilets aren't running and you can see or hear any leaks. Are there washers or anything else that could draw a lot of water? Was your last PGW bill on par with the previous month or same month last year? Ie is this a trend of a blimp for one month.   

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Hoi L.
  • New to Real Estate
  • Chadds Ford, PA
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Hoi L.
  • New to Real Estate
  • Chadds Ford, PA
Replied Oct 22 2022, 16:27

I had an extremely high water bill month to one of my SFH outsidepf Philadelphia. I texted the tenant and found out the toilet was running. They fixed it. If they don't address the issue, I would've capped monthly water allowance and would bill back to tenants with proof from the water bill.

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Bob Stevens#2 Rehabbing & House Flipping Contributor
  • Real Estate Consultant
  • Cleveland
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Bob Stevens#2 Rehabbing & House Flipping Contributor
  • Real Estate Consultant
  • Cleveland
Replied Oct 22 2022, 16:30
Quote from @Jason Winter:

Hello BP Community,

I have a small MF (triplex) property in Philadelphia PA. The tenants pay their own gas and electric but like most mf properties in the city, the landlord is responsible for water. Recently the water bills have been high and the last months bill is extraordinarily high for 3 units. How do I address this? 

My first response is to reach out to the tenants and inform them of the extremely high water bill and to ask them to check if there are any leaky faucets or running toilets. I assume that wont go anywhere so i'm hoping to get some more experienced advice on this. I appreciate any and all feedback.

Thanks,

Jason W

 Same issue in the Cleveland markets. In cleveland the water co website will actually track usage by the hour. See if there is a spike then address the spike.. Also check out the property, running toilets, faucets etc. See if the tenants are having family members wash their cars there, and or laundry. In addition when you bought it you should figure in the water bill.  

Good luck 

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Jason Winter
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
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Jason Winter
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
Replied Oct 23 2022, 07:40

Thanks all for the feedback. When we purchased the property we did account for water as part of our expenses but last month was excessive. I ended up going to the units and the toilet in one of the units was running so that was an easy fix. 

@Hoi L. Capping monthly water allowance sounds like a good idea. I would assume that would already have to be in the lease which i will add into the next lease renewal.

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Matt N.
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
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Matt N.
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
Replied Oct 28 2022, 09:09

@Jason Winter

Another tip here: There is a small dial on the meter itself. If that needle is moving, there is water flowing somewhere. So you can turn everything off, check the meter, and its a sure way to know if there is a leak. Then find the leak ofcourse like you did!

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Jason Winter
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
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Jason Winter
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
Replied Nov 1 2022, 09:37

Thanks @Matt N. that's a great tip. I'll keep that in mind for next time.

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Easton G.
  • Investor
  • Colorado Springs, CO
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Easton G.
  • Investor
  • Colorado Springs, CO
Replied Nov 24 2022, 06:32

We have experienced this a few times in our units. Our typical steps are. 

1. Notify tenants and ask that they are aware and mindful. 

2. Property manager inspection 

3. Our city offers a water conservation advisement and can help find problem areas. 

4. Calling a plumber who specializes in leak detection. 

5. Continue to scratch head...throw hands in air.