I recently closed on my first buy and hold rental! It's an over/under duplex with a shared basement and is fully occupied.
I have very quickly come across my first "issue" with the property. The shared basement has a coin op washer/dryer, however they are tied to the lower units electric bill.
Water is paid by landlord in the lease, thus I'd like to keep the coin op to cover the water cost
What makes the most sense to handl e the electric cost? The tenant has expressed that she's not too thrilled with the laundry setup, and I can't say I blame her.
Thanks in advance!
If possible, I believe it is always better for everyone to be directly responsible for their use of any resources.
The more accurate and direct this responsibility is passed on to the consumer, the happier everyone will be.
I'm a big fan of minimizing common areas, common amenities... and their inherent expenses to the small-time landlord... whenever possible.
Think of common areas and amenities as the socialist part of your capitalist facility... encouraging irresponsible use and abuse...
Your use of a direct payment system, like the coin-op timer, is a good step in the right direction.
However... if you are going to use the basement as a common area... sounds like you need to have a common area electric service with its own meter...
If you see no reasonable or affordable way to physically separate the common area utility circuits from the lower unit... then you might want to adjust the lower unit's rent to compensate...
If you have decided not to do any re-wiring... another option might be to designate the basement, and all it entails, as belonging to the lower unit... since it is already wired that way... Then consider raising the rent on the lower unit... and possibly installing a small laundry unit in the top unit.
If you do decide to keep a common area laundry, here are a couple of options you might want to ponder:
Do you have a Landlord Meter on the property? I have one on my property that runs exterior lights in the common area and the furnace. If you do its should be fairly easy to have that outlet moved over to the Landlord meter. Your other option is have a Landlord Meter installed but that could get pretty expensive.
Your only other option is to ask to see her electric bill then figure out roughly what the washer and dryer electric would cost should be able to roughly estimate it, then reduce her rent by that number.
My property had this issue where the oil furnace was running on one units electric but i was lucky i had a separate elextrical box just had to get a meter installed, then have those items moved over to the new electrical box it only cost me $100 to get done. The electric for all of my common area stuff is about $18 a month
@Michael Burke Assuming the upper and lower unit are similar in size, why not as the upstairs tenant for copies of their electric bill for the last year and do the same for the lower unit tenant? See what the difference is, assume that is due to the laundry and reimburse the lower unit tenant that much every month to cover the additional electricity usage.
Thanks for the replies and advise, it is much appreciated.
In the meantime I have reduced the rent for the lower unit to account for the average cost she incurs for the laundry. I do feel the best way to handle this going forward is to either add the landlord utilities box, or to add laundry units to the upstairs unit. Although this will have to be in the future.
First, congratulations on your purchase!
Second, I've never heard of such a thing. A Coin-op machine is supposed to compensate the Landlord for utility use, cost of the machines, and hopefully provide a little profit. However, that assumes the Landlord is paying the utility bill.
I think the easiest solution is to split the proceeds with the downstairs tenant.
I like that idea. 50/50 split of the income from the laundry with the downstairs tenant seems like it might placate them and would really cost you much.
If you are separating out the washer and dryer to a different circuit under a house meter, make sure you also check the water heater. In my experience if the washer and dryer circuits are tied to a particular unit, it's very likely the hot water supply to the washer is also coming from the water heater of that unit, so even you are paying for water, the unit tenant is paying for the electric or gas to heat the water if someone does a hot or warm wash.