What Owners and Operators can do to Prepare for a 20% Water and Sewage Increase

Posted By: Will Floyd (deleted) Articles, Industry Trends,
If you are a landlord, owner, or property manager in the Seattle area, you should know about upcoming utility price increases over the next few years.

On May 10th, 2021, the Seattle City Council approved a measure to increase the price of water and sewage by more than 20% by 2026. This will be phased in as a 4.2% increase every year for the next five years. Unless you have a system that allows you to pass these increases directly to your tenants, you may end up paying for this yourself. 

For some time, a popular option for owners has been to include the cost of the monthly water bill in the rent. This option is getting more and more expensive with utility increases, as you are absorbing the full front of the change in utility costs. You can raise the rent, but this makes your property even harder to market in a competitive renting market. This method also provides no guarantee of the full recollection of utility costs, not to mention the incidence of either leaks or water abuse. To say the least, this method of recapturing utility costs is severely outdated.

Another way to handle the water bill is a system called “RUBS,” a system that divides utility costs based on square footage or occupancy. This method does ensure full recollection, but it fails to assign any sort of consequence to water usage, which always means that people overuse it, so if you want to take care of the environment, you should not be a fan of “RUBS.” At this point, you must be wondering what can be done to solve some of these problems magnified by utility spikes? The answer is submetering.

Submetering and a complimentary remote reading system can enable the accurate measure and billing of a tenant’s utility usage and ensure the recollection of all utility costs.

Many of these systems provide features like online reading of data, leak detection/alerting, and automated billing. With a system like this, you can protect yourself from rising utility bills, ensure steady profitability from your income properties, and help converse water and energy all at the same time. Try to think about submetering as an insurance plan against the ever-growing unforeseen utility charges. There is an upfront cost, and sometimes a monthly payment, but you can rest easy at night without worrying about leaky faucets as many landlords do.

Will Floyd is a Business Development Representative with Submeter Solutions.

  • He has three months in the utility industry, and before that spent three years in tech developing software solutions.
  • A technologist with a passion for helping people solve problems with technology. With a background in software and electrical engineering, I am always trying to find new ways technology can help people out.
  • Other than work, I like to go for walks with my dog, play music, play chess, and hang out with friends.