In my area the city will not let tenants have their own water/sewer/trash account. The owner of the building must be the only name on the account. I now own 2 duplexes in which all units are metered separately. All leases say that the tenants are responsible for paying all utility bills.
I live in one unit and until now had been handing the bill to the tenant who lives next to me and allowing him to handle his bill. I recently purchased the other duplex and have just received their first water bills. I have been doing some research and many people recommend paying all the bills yourself and then billing the tenant to compensate you. I would like to do this as I understand I am personally responsible for the bills.
However, I need some advice. I have read that if they tenants see that the landlord's name is on the bill they will feel less obligated to pay, so what kind of template are others using to bill the tenant? Are you providing the tenant with a copy of the bill and then asking them to pay you? If not, on the letter you send your tenant are you breaking down all the costs and consumption such as it states on the original bill or are you just giving them the total cost due?
In my single family homes the tenant was responsible for the water bill. In my apartment buildings I was responsible for the water bills.
The water bills would always come in my name, just how I wanted it to be.
In the Lease Agreement I would state that the tenant was responsible for the water bill.
In the Lease Agreement I have it stated that any money received in my office would be applied first to any outstanding bills they owed to me. Therefore when I received the water bill from the water company, I would turn around and bill the tenant for the water usage, and include a copy of the water bill sent to me to prove to them I wasn't gouging them.
They had to pay the water bill when they received the bill. If they didn't and I received their rent money first, their rent money was applied to the water bill, since the water bill was an outstanding bill. This meant the rent was now late because it went to pay the water bill.
I make sure they understand this in the Lease Agreement and when we sign the lease. They sign the lease stating they understand.
Great idea @Nancy Neville! Thank you for the reply
Since you have separate meters and only a few tenants, I think the process Nancy described above would work really well for you.
My only concern would be how the payments are applied -- I'd keep them separate. Why? If, for example I were going through an eviction and/or late rent process, and I accept partial payment that gets applied to rent, then I've lengthened the amount of time the tenant can continue to live there without paying full rent. I'd explore this aspect further.