Why do you pay water for the rental; if so?

16 Replies

Some landlords pay the water instead of allowing the tenant to pay. Of those who pay; Why do you pay the water bill?

I pay it becuase from my understanding in most situations it's impossible to break up on individual meters. (This is for multi-family properties).

This is also what I hear from local landlords as well.

There is also the issue of what happens if you don’t pay. If the municipality places a lien on the property I want to be in control of that payment. I don’t want a lien on my rental property because the tenant didn’t pay.


I second Richard's comments.

The property can be liened on if the bill is not paid, unlike TV, electric, phone, or trash. Thus, to keep the property clear of liens - we pay.

Most of the municipalities around here charge quarterly.

I don't do this. But, I know several landlords in my area who do. The main reason being: the City requires a rental license to put the water into the tenant's name. That license is $200 every two years and comes with an inspection of the property. The Inspection Department then uses it as an opportunity to come in and write up a list a mile long of necessary repairs. Then you pay for the reinspection, etc., etc., etc. It's a never ending vicious cycle.

So, the quick way to by-pass this is to keep the water in the name of the taxpayer.

Then that goes to if the tenant does not pay, then you have to pay. If it's in the landlord name you have to pall all no question.

The downside to providing water to the tenants is they may use an unreasonable amount. I've looked at more than one REO where there was clearly a laundry being operated in the basement.

Mark, Same in my town.. All of the slum lords pay water and trash to get around the dwelling permit issue.

I'm the same as everyone above too.

I pay the water and sewer because the city doesn't sub meter the building so I have no way of knowing which tenants are using how much water.

I have a duplex that I make the tenants pay the sewer bill but if they don't pay then it's my responsibility to pay or they will put a lien against the property and not the tenant. Some experienced tenants know this and will refuse to pay the bill.


I pay the water and write in their lease that they will be billed for such and it is treated for rent. Therefore, if they don't pay as billed, its grounds for eviction. That way, it's paid, and I don't have to worry about a lein being placed on my properties.

Jeffrey that sounds like a good idea. Now; if they don't pay rent at all would you or could you cut off the water? That is something I would like to do but the laws that be may not approve?

I just do a cost-analysis of what water usually costs in the building..

I add that money into the rent, and divide it among the tenants..

In my 2 family unit, its about 11 bucks per month, or 44 per quarter.

Nothing huge, but why pay for it.

I can't imagine you would be allowed to cut off water. Would any city allow that?

In Iowa, the landlord can go to the water utility's office and fill out a form stating the property is being rented out and any delinquent water bill is the responsibility of the tenant. The form must be filled out again each time there is a new tenant.

This will prevent the landlord from having liens put on the property for nonpayment of the water bill. Therefore my tenants are responsible for paying water and I don't have to worry about it.

Do any other states have this option?

Originally posted by Brendan O'brien:
I can't imagine you would be allowed to cut off water. Would any city allow that?

If the water bill is under the landlords name then they must have the water on at all time or else fines will rack up. This is the case for NYC. If the property is properly sub-metered and it is in the tenants name then I guess that portion of it can get cut off. Since it's the tenants responsibility.

Here in Colorado, water utility companies can lien the property for unpaid bills. We keep the water in our name as to monitor the usage and not to get stuck at the end of the lease with a $500 surprise. (which has happened)
We simply charge the bill monthly to the tenants as we get the bill and pay the bill online with a credit card (gaining FF miles of course) to not loose out on a cash flow basis.
It' s a CYA issue.

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.