Should a Tenant Pay their Water Bills in Massachusetts?
Are you curious if your tenants should pay the water utilities for your property in Massachusetts? In this article, we will be covering that most commonly asked question by most landlords. Is it possible for tenants to pay water bills? In a condo association, water bills are included. However, if you do…
Are you curious if your tenants should pay the water utilities for your property in Massachusetts? In this article, we will be covering that most commonly asked question by most landlords.
Is it possible for tenants to pay water bills?
In a condo association, water bills are included. However, if you do have a single or a multi-family, this is something that you’re going to want to consider because water can be a major expense. When the tenants aren’t paying for that expense, they aren’t going to be worried about it.
What’s the process for a single-family house?
Any type of utility that you want to charge back to the tenant needs to be separately metered. A single-family house has only one meter. Sometimes, there’s a different line for sprinklers, but that’s not the case since the city of Boston, or the jurisdiction or city you have a property in, might have a special form. That form needs to be filled out by the plumber. The plumber will go to the property and make sure everything is low flow and efficient. They will sign it, stating what it is then you will need to submit the form to the city.
Once you have the receipt, make sure you provide a copy of that report to the tenants. In case you charge the water bill and weren’t able to submit the form, you will be legally responsible for up to triple damage. We’ve seen that happen with other landlords that didn’t do this, causing almost tens of thousands of dollars.
The water bills in Boston stay in the owner’s name. We’ll pay that water bill and add it back to the tenant ledger. We will provide a copy of the bill, but we can’t put it in the tenants’ names. It is a little bit more work but again, for a single-family house, you must fill out the form together with a plumber, get the bills, have it paid then add it to the tenant’s ledger.
How about for multi-families?
If you have four units in a building, the majority of landlords unless it’s a new construction building don’t have separate water meters. Your water bills could range anywhere between $50-100 per month per unit. At Green Ocean, we work with a vendor that can put a single meter reader. They’re going to add separate water meters for every unit, assuming that your water is separated per unit.
You also need to have the lines checked by a plumber. Each meter will read separately and it’s going to send information back to the individual reader. This individual reader will send us information via online, so we’re able to figure out the cost based upon the calculation. If it’s a $500 water bill for the entire building, we’ll separate that and figure out the total amount for each unit. We will bill it back to the tenants and give them a proof of billing.
In addition, you need to explain how it works because you don’t want any type of confusion. This can save you at least $6,000-7,000 per year. The key is to make sure that everybody understands their responsibility of paying the water, and they understand how it works without any confusion.
If you’re looking for a property manager that is proactive and can think of different ways to save you money, please think of Green Ocean Property Management, where you get more than a property manager, you get peace of mind.
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