What is sub-metering?
“Utility Sub metering is the implementation of a system that allows a landlord, property management firm, condominium association, homeowners association, or other multi-tenant property to bill tenants for individual measured utility usage.”
In March 2013, Country View Garden Homes beganincluding a letter that explained to all renewing residents the following information in regards to their renewal. Anyone who has entered a renewal or a new lease agreement since March of last year was notified up the upcoming sub-metering event. The following two paragraphs is the same information included in the letters:
“While water and sewer are currently included in your rent, we are sending out this notification to all new renewals regarding sub-metering at Country View Garden Homes, which will be scheduled to begin later this year. In trying to make this transition as smooth as possible, we are notifying every person who will be renewing during the upcoming year.
There hasn’t been much information received on how this process will work or an exact date as to when we will begin. As more information becomes available, we will pass it on to the residents. You may bring any questions to the office and we will answer what we can. Thank you for being a resident at Country View Garden Homes. We do appreciate all of you. “
We have included this letter in each renewal for a very specific reason. We wanted every resident that would be renewing with us to have an understanding that sub-metering would be something that would be coming to Country View Garden Homes in the future. We wanted to make sure that there was transparency on any up-coming changes. On Monday, December 9, 2013, we broke ground and installed our first water meter. The proposed completion of all installed meters will be December 20, 2013.
Change and development is always difficult to implement, regardless of the situation. We have made every attempt to ease the transition into sub-metering for the property. According to the most recent Marketing Survey of Lee County, Country View Garden Homes is one of only 12 apartment communities left in the county that pays the water bill for the entire community. Most properties have already made the transition. Those that still “include” the water and sewer, (not really an inclusion, rather the community pays for your water usage) will eventually follow suit and begin sub-metering. Some of those communities have even begun setting a limit on how much the property will cover of your water usage. (i.e, up to $50.00).
Country View Garden Homes strives to remain competitively priced with all other communities in our area. Our market rents have remained steady, as we have not seen an actual market rental increase in over 4 years! In those years, we have seen increases in our expenditures such as maintenance, amenities, and utilities. We have maintained all of this for the residents of Country View Garden Homes. What this really means is that we have been taking on the financial responsibility for you to take a shower, flush your toilet, or wash your dishes. When you think about it like that, has it really been that fair to all parties? Even without sub-metering, the increase would eventually happen, more than likely as a hidden charge in a rent increase. You have the ability to control part of the cost of your water usage, however you would have no control over a property-wide rent increase (which would include a hidden charge of water usage). Currently no one realizes the amount of water you use because you can’t see the bill. So, you add a high flow shower head and take a half hour shower twice a day, you run your dishwasher 3 times a day at half capacity, or maybe you use the toilet as a trash can, throwing a small piece of paper and the flushing it down with over a gallon of water? Why not do this? I mean, you don’t have to pay for it. We, the property, think differently. We purchase and install low flow shower heads and high efficiency toilets. We also use low-flow aerators on water outlets in the home. We do this to help bring down the cost.
So honestly, how often have you considered the amount of water you waste? It probably comes up about as often as you think about how much you throw away in the garbage. Did you know the average person uses approximately 100 gallons of water per day, every day. (this information can be found at here.) Around sixty percent of that is wasted water.
So to answer the big question; “What does this mean for the resident?” The short response is that yes, you will have a water/sewer bill that will become due each month. No, we will not discount your rent to offset your water bill, as it was never “part” of your rent in the first place. Also, the property does not have any interference with the actual water bill. All usage is monitored by an un-biased 3rd party. Like the electric Company, the water company will set the prices. This bill will be paid directly to the water service company, not to Country View Garden Homes. The only time that Country View Garden Homes will be involved is for non-payment of services. The amount of the water bill will be assessed to the current monthly rent. This will follow our current formula of unpaid assessments against the rental property. For anyone that is unfamiliar with this information, you are able to refer to your lease agreement on Page two, Article 7: Utilities, second paragraph which states;
“Where, lawful, all utilities, charges and fees of any kind under this lease shall be considered additional rent, and if partial payments are accepted by the Landlord, they will be allocated first to to non-rent charges and to rent last.”
Country View Garden Homes will continue to remain competitive with the surrounding communities and welcome any changes that help keep us the best apartment living community in North Fort Myers, Florida! We are here to answer any questions that anyone may have about sub-metering and why it is necessary. Thank you!