Multiunit Landlord Costs

5 Replies

I am looking to invest in small and medium sized multiunits (15-100 units) and am trying to get a good estimate for electrical, water, and landscaping costs as a whole or per unit.  I know this is a rather broad topic with a range on answers but would appreciate some direction that would allow me to get an estimate to use in my evaluations.  If you would please share what  you have experienced as well as the number of units associated with those costs I would greatly appreciate it.



@Scott Hensley I have a small sample size, but I can share what I have. For electrical costs in my buildings (corridor style) I pay about $5 per unit per month. So, for my 4 unit in Lyons I pay about $20 per month, and for my 9 unit I am paying around $45 per month. I use all LED lights with low wattage in the hallways. 

For water, I like to estimate around $50 per unit per month, but this will absolutely be location specific depending on local water rates. I have found the $50 per unit to hold true in both my properties here in Lyons and Berwyn as well as my 20 unit property in South Bend, IN. Some months it is a tad under that, but for estimating purposes I like to overestimate by 10% or so. 

Landscaping is tough because a "per unit" basis doesn't work as well across different types of properties. I have found that Illinois properties cost about $15-17 per cut. This would break down to $17 per unit at my four unit, and $7.50 per unit at my 9 unit. 

 My South Bend properties are spread out and have large lots, so we pay $100 per cut. This would end up being about $10 per unit per month. 

@Scott Hensley

Your most accurate estimates will probably be from actual operators in your area, so tap your local network and your local PM first.

If you want to get a more broad view, and are willing to spend some money, you can get a copy of the Income & Expenses Survey put out by the National Apartment Association. (I'm not affiliated nor do I actually own a copy, but I was considering picking it up.) The feedback i've heard is that it's accurate-ish, but doesn't replace doing your homework during due-diligence.

I hope that helps!


First up - Principal - Interest - Taxes and Insurance (PITI) is your critical factor. Get these figured out up front.

Many insurance companies will no longer insured anything larger than a four-plex. They will insure multiple four plexes in one community but not a five plex or larger.

For larger than four plex you may need to consider consulting with an independent insurance broker.

For PITI sake do these things first.

Electrical - Ask the current owner for 12 months from their supplier. Find out if electric and gas have been deregulated in the state you wish to purchase in. Mike Grimes with Commercial Energy Consultants can help with that. Tell him I sent you.

Water AND Sewer - Make sure there are no liens on the property and get a 12 month report from the current owner before making an offer.

Landscaping - Are you cutting down trees or getting the grass mowed? Go through the phone book and call three services in the area. Get their estimates.

Good Luck and Good Investing

Landscaping costs vary a lot, I pay $40- to $45- per cut on my duplex, a lot of grass to cut. And a few hundred dollars a year chemicals. Trimming shrubs averages about $50 a year. Woodchips about a hundred per year. Just keep the exterior up enough to fit into the area, nothing fancy but costs add up. 

Hello All,

Thank you for taking the time to share on your experience. The information is appreciated and will be considered.


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