Attention Chicago Landlords - Who pays the water bill?

11 Replies

Hello everyone,

I own a SFR on the South Side of Chicago that is currently occupied to a Section 8 tenant. I am in the process of closing on my next SFR rental and while looking back at the performance of my previous rental, I noticed that I am taking a bit of a hair cut when it comes to the water bill. Long story short, I receive $1175 for the home, $45 of that is for the water bill. I have a smart meter on the property so every 2 months I receive a bill of about $200. So every 2 months, I receive about $90 for Section 8 for the water bill, but I still take a $110 loss give or take. I originally chopped this up as the cost of doing business in Chicago since the risk of a tenant not paying the water bill could result in a lien being placed on the property, but I started doing research. I found on the city's website that the water bill can be made to the attention of the tenant, but still be monitored by the owner. Has anyone placed the water bill responsibility on the tenant in Chicago by having the City send them the bill? If so, how did it, or is it working out?

Things to note:

  • Outdoor Water Handle is removed
  • There is active laundry hook ups 
  • Water control items that were sent with the smart water meter are all installed 

 The owners are responsible for the water bill,unless you have a written agreement that they will pay for it .especially if they bring in a washer,  in some cases you may have a leak in the toilet  and Fossett  that's running or dripping and that adds up .

Originally posted by @Christopher M.:

Hello everyone,

I own a SFR on the South Side of Chicago that is currently occupied to a Section 8 tenant. I am in the process of closing on my next SFR rental and while looking back at the performance of my previous rental, I noticed that I am taking a bit of a hair cut when it comes to the water bill. Long story short, I receive $1175 for the home, $45 of that is for the water bill. I have a smart meter on the property so every 2 months I receive a bill of about $200. So every 2 months, I receive about $90 for Section 8 for the water bill, but I still take a $110 loss give or take. I originally chopped this up as the cost of doing business in Chicago since the risk of a tenant not paying the water bill could result in a lien being placed on the property, but I started doing research. I found on the city's website that the water bill can be made to the attention of the tenant, but still be monitored by the owner. Has anyone placed the water bill responsibility on the tenant in Chicago by having the City send them the bill? If so, how did it, or is it working out?

Things to note:

  • Outdoor Water Handle is removed
  • There is active laundry hook ups 
  • Water control items that were sent with the smart water meter are all installed 

 It all goes back to your lease and how it is negotiated.  You can do whatever you want really as long as it is agreed on.  If you are going to ask them to pay water, I would keep it in your name, and bill the tenant with 30 day terms.  That way you are making sure it is paid 

I guess what I trying to ask is if anyone else in the Chicago market has setup the water bill to go to the tenant for their SFR rental. There are no leaks seeing as all the plumbing is centralized in the laundry room. I supplied a washer and dryer hook up, and there is no way to determine if the tenant may be doing laundry everyday or taking 3hr long showers with no concern for the water consumption. Seeing as I typically see rentals on the market with water included, I would like to know if anyone here on BP has left their tenant responsible for their own water, and if so, how do you go about setting it up. Pass it to them, or set it up so it is mailed to the tenant.

Originally posted by @Christopher M.:

I guess what I trying to ask is if anyone else in the Chicago market has setup the water bill to go to the tenant for their SFR rental. There are no leaks seeing as all the plumbing is centralized in the laundry room. I supplied a washer and dryer hook up, and there is no way to determine if the tenant may be doing laundry everyday or taking 3hr long showers with no concern for the water consumption. Seeing as I typically see rentals on the market with water included, I would like to know if anyone here on BP has left their tenant responsible for their own water, and if so, how do you go about setting it up. Pass it to them, or set it up so it is mailed to the tenant.

I have never seen a unit where the tenant pays water, but I am on the north side where SFH rentals are not common. @Mark Ainley how do you guys handle water for your SFR's?

@Christopher M. @Brie Schmidt

We don’t do it at all up until this past week.  We are trying to simply have the tenant owe $50.00 per month towards water on top of rent to see how that goes.  It was a disirable home on a good block so this might be easy.  Where it will be tough is a less desirable house on a less desirable block. Will let you know if it goes anywhere. 

@Christopher M.  You know where I stand on this...if water bill is over $50 per month per unit there is a leak somewhere, or running toilet, or tenants running a car wash out the back alley(true story).

tenants with separate meters 

Originally posted by @Christopher M.:

@Brie Schmidt @Mark Ainley @Theodore Jackson

Just curious if any of you have water meters on your properties, and if so, what is the amount you are paying every 2 months?

Keyword: Chicago, South Side

 Yes, all mine have meters.  My units average $33 / mo per unit for water

@Mark Ainley   @Brie Schmidt

I did the meter test by shutting off the water in the property and watching the meter. The dial didn't move... I had a conversation with the tenants, and of course they denied any abuse. But like Mark said, i pretty sure they were doing laundry for the entire block. The mistake on my part is that I did not outline any of this in my lease or cover water use versus abuse in their orientation...

This is one of those no clear solutions situations.  This is what I would do...send her a bill with a letter for anything over say $50 of water usage and then send a copy to CHA.  On your letter put on the bottom "CC: Chicago Housing Authority".  Send her a bill then and keep it on her ledger...she will either know you are on to her and stop or you need to consider if it is worth not renewing her.  

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