One important part of being a landlord or property owner is dealing with utilities. When lease terms are not clearly spelled out, utility payments – and who’s responsible for what – can become a point of contention between tenants and landlords.
Ensuring that tenants are paying the utility bills they’re responsible for and that you also are staying on top of the bills you are responsible for becomes even more important as you grow your portfolio and begin managing properties at scale.
Utility Bills and Your Lease Agreement
Documenting utility bill responsibility in your lease agreement is critical to minimizing potential disagreements about who needs to pay for the utilities. Here in the Columbus area, it’s typical with single-family rentals that tenants pay for all utilities. Generally, this includes gas, electric, and water.
In terms of the payment process, gas and electric are fairly simple. The main utility companies have no issue placing service directly into the tenant’s name. From there, the tenant remits payment to the utility company and there is no landlord involvement.
Water can be a bit trickier as there are a lot of ins and outs with how water billing is handled within different jurisdictions in Central Ohio. It may also depend on how the meter is set up at your specific property – particularly if it’s a multi-family unit or condo. Some properties may be sub-metered for water.
As a landlord or property owner make sure you have a good understanding of the physical arrangement of each utility service at the properties you own and the companies that service them.
Beyond the Lease Agreement
To make utility responsibility clear in your lease agreement, we suggest using something like a table to list out each of the utilities and who is responsible for paying for them.As part of the move-in process, we also suggest ensuring that the tenant has transferred the utilities into their name. That may mean not handing over keys to the unit until you have confirmation that they’ve switched the utilities into their name.
In addition to the lease, it’s also important to be clear about utility responsibility in your advertising. The last thing any tenant wants when they go to move in is discover they’re responsible for utilities they didn’t know about.
Turn To Us for Help
We get that there is a lot to think about with utilities, and it can be an afterthought for many property owners. As a property management company in Franklin County, one of our jobs is to take care of all these little details for you. If you have questions about your lease agreements or any other aspect of managing rental properties, get in touch with our team at RL Property Management.