I'm purchasing a 40 unit apartment building (2 buildings of 20 units each). Each building has only one water meter. The current owner pays all water, which runs at $1500-2000/mo. RUBS for gas, all separately metered for electric. I'm considering two options to handle the water, which I've been told we can't do RUBS with:
1. Charge the tenants a flat rate for sewer/water/trash that would mostly cover my costs. This is simple to implement on units that are vacant or turning over, as we intend to update them, add-value, and will have a blank slate. More difficult with existing leases, which we will likely leave alone at the onset.
2. Sub-metering....If anyone has experience with a product that's worked for them, I'd love to hear about it. I've heard there are sub-meter devices you can hook on to the cold water line coming into the apartment that can monitor that individual units usage. I like this idea b/c I could cover all my water charges. Second, if there is a toilet running, leak etc., we could deduct pretty easily where its coming from.
Would be curious on product recommendations, as well as general recommendations as to how others have handled this situation.
If legal in your area, I recommend sub-metering. The downside is you have to actually READ the meters and back bill the tenants for their share of usage, but that can be done quarterly or more often if desired. The advantage here too is when people are responsible for their own water usage, they tend to be less wasteful and report problems with leaks sooner.
I've had a couple of $600 water bills from one side of a duplex (2 people living there), when the toilet flapper got stuck and they "forgot to report it." Uh huh. Every since I sub-metered that unit 7 years ago....zero problems with high water bills.
Charging "extra" for water doesn't make sense: if that's your plan might as well bake that cost into the total rent rather than have it as a separate charge that a judge may or may not award you during a money judgment hearing.
Sub meter. There are companies that will bill and read the meters using wifi. It costs money. But my friend is on the board of a condo that just did it, and prorated the water bill automatically. This is a full time living condo, not vacation. Some units are using 10x the average. After the first bill, they will report their toilet is running.
I found a product made by H20 Degree. SN# WM1200. Hooks right into the line and reports individual unit usage to a gateway. The water company would bill me and then I would bill the tenants back, or hire another company to read the data and do the billing. No external wifi needed.
Seems pretty simple. Waiting on pricing.