Do any of you have a good strategy for minimizing water expenses during vacancy? Essentially, my goal would be to transition from one tenant to another in about 2 weeks without ever having the water bill in my name. In my current system I am spending $60 to use ZERO gallons of water and have the bill in my name for 2-3 weeks (water, sewer and trash are on same bill, plus random service fees). I own these properties long distance and use an honest but inefficient property manager.
In a perfect world I could get the manager to inspect the property and get the place cleaned the very next day after it has been vacated, and maybe the water is still on. I am certain it could show and rent without water. The risk is that the cleaner arrives and the water is off, now I am looking at at least another 2 or 3 days of vacancy to reschedule. At $1400/month rent each day of vacancy costs $46 so maybe playing this game with the water isn't worth it.
It just bugs me to pay $60 for one or two week ZERO gallon water bill. Maybe I should have the manager bill the tenant for the water as it is part of the cleaning charge and necessary for the cleaning. Any suggestions?
Sounds like water company is charging you $60 just to put it in your name in-between tenants. If that's the case, ask them if they have any landlord accounts. If they don't offer any similar services, your only other option may be to leave it in your name full time, and send the statements to the tenant. Realistically, this is what many landlords do since the water bill can often be placed as a lien on the property. Other than that, you may just want to consider it a cost of doing business in your specific market.
Charge the tenant a "water transfer fee" up front that covers the fee. If it's too much for an in-coming tenant to play, split it between coming in and going out.
I chalk it up to the cost of doing business.