With Utilities comes Responsibility

One of the first questions apartment hunters ask me is the breakdown of utility billing. What do tenants pay and what does the building pay? I’m never able to gauge ahead of time what their reaction will be when I state the circumstances. The best advice I’ve been able to gain from researching the most common practices, is that building owners should pay “some” of the utilities as opposed to all or none. This gives stability to the balancing act of tenants skipping out with large balances and owners having a sense of control over their building’s expenses. The most important aspects to consider when agreeing upon a utility plan are the property size, green capabilities and curb appeal.

Property size entails everything from physical landscape size to the number of units in the building. If there’s space and money to install metered utilities, you will be able to identify and track which units are spending the most on utilities. This will instigate a sense of liability for unpaid bills and in turn incentivize current and past residents to pay their dues. As the difference in ratio between owner and residents increases, it becomes more necessary to have a portion of owner-controlled utility expenses. 

Green incentives are very popular in the Seattle market when it comes to their incorporation in promotional efforts. Supplemental reasoning for participating in those metered utility options referred to above will glorify your property for taking the initiative to make a difference in the community. Referring to the underlying reasoning for particular utility billing procedures as complimenting environmentally friendly initiatives will attract a proactive and positive target market.

The curb appeal factor of a utility plan concerns the competition. People researching within a given neighborhood will compare to neighboring buildings and the ‘amenities’ each has to offer. Figure out what the local landlords around you are doing and offer better. Not only will effectively assigning utility billing save money for the tenant and owner, but when a solid system is offered versus a neighboring apathetic attempt, your property will shine with potential.

Finding a utility billing system tailored to your property that makes the most out of its resources is the ultimate goal. Determine what will work best in terms of the property size, environmentally friendly options for incentives and staying up with the competition. The owner and residents save money AND you will be promoting a happier and more environmentally aware atmosphere.