Water Bills on Rental Units


Water Meters for Rentals after City Main Water Meter

Water Meters for Rentals after City Main Water Meter

Is there anyone who rents an apartment that doesn't have water and sewage included with their rent?

How does your landlord charge you for the water bill? Through the City or through the people you rent your apartment from?

My apartment complex decided last month to not-include the water bill with our rent payments instead of raising our rent. This is how they are charging us now...

They're estimating our water usage by the size of our apartment!

For a two bedroom small apartment the landlord is charging me $55.00 extra each month for water.

Shouldn't this be illegal?

If the landlord is going to charge for water on each apartment unit, shouldn't they have separate water meters so we can pay the City rather than the landlord?

There's no proof I'm using $55.00 worth of water each month.
In the previous house I rented, I only paid $18.00 per month to the City that was billed every three months for a total of $54.00.

I want to know if other apartments do this or if my landlord is doing an illegal act.
The apartment we are renting is in Northern Ohio.

Any advice or knowledge will help...Thanks!


It is legal to charge Tenants for water usage on their rental unit. It should be stated in the rental lease agreement where both parties agree.

Estimating water usage by the size of the rental unit instead of how many tenants occupy the rental unit may seem to be unfair without proof of a water meter reading.

I would suggest that you negotiate your monthly water bill with your landlord if you feel your water usage is less than you're being charged for.

Separate sub-meters after the main City water meter is a common practice in multiple unit facilities.

I have a five-unit apartment building that I've installed 5 sub-water meters for each individual apartment, after the main City water meter.

Calculations For Water Bills:

Water is billed by the Department of Public Works (DPW) in units of one-thousand gallons.

Example: My City water charges including sewage and service fees break down to $5.14 per one-thousand gallons.

Reading each rental unit water meter for the past five years; my estimate of a person's water usage is approximately one-thousand to fifteen-hundred gallons per month.

I provide my renters an exact water meter reading each month and bill them exactly what the City charges me.

I do know of commercial building landlords that will charge an extra ten percent above the actual cost of their water charges as a service charge for meter readings and billing. As long as the Tenant agrees, all is well.

How To Get Your Water Bill Lowered From Your Landlord:

Contact your City Water Department; ask them how much water is being billed per 1000 gallons.
Ask the Water Department if they have any data estimating a per person usage.
This information may help you negotiate with your landlord.
Show the DPW your landlord's calculation to get their opinion.

Bottom Line...

Your total monthly rental rate, whether the water bill is included or separate, is the amount the landlord is charging.

If the total amount is unaffordable, negotiate with your landlord for a lower total monthly rent. There's no harm in asking for a lower monthly rent or water usage rate.

For the landlord, it's better to receive a lower monthly rental income, than a vacancy!
Compare other local rent rates to support your negotiation with your landlord.

Hope this helps,

Joe Trometer

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How Is It Legal for Landlords to Charge Whatever Water Rate They Want Too?
by: Anonymous

I really need some help here.

I live in an apartment in Ohio.

Since my daughter is in college I pretty much live in my apartment by myself.

I do not own a washer or dryer!
I do not cook so I am hardly using any water there!
I don't use my dishwater and I don't even make coffee!
The most water I use is when I take a shower.

My water bill for the past month was $208.

My landlord says I must have a leak and I am in an upstairs apartment.

I called the water department and they told me that my whole building only used 4700 gallons of water for the month.

According to my bill I was billed for 90,000 gallons just for myself.

When I told my apartment complex this they did Not seem interested in helping me.

I called the water company back but the lady I talked to said she could not really help me because,
they bill the apartment complex and the apartment complex can charge any rate they want to.

She verified that the whole building only used 47,000 gallons but said,
she could not send me that information because the apartment complex would have to ask for it.

I don't think my apartment manager is interested in calling the water department.

How is this legal?

I am at the apartment complex's mercy. Is there anything I can do?


Short of suggesting you move and find a new apartment complex with a trustworthy property manager / landlord, here are a few suggestions:

1) Contact your neighbors in your rental building and see if the other tenants are being over charged on their water bills too.

2) Put it in writing. As you did here, submit a written complaint to your building manager.
A written request sometimes gets more attention than a phone call.

3) Ask a Lawyer online or call a local Attorney's office in your area and pose the question to see if you have a case that you could pursue.

Note: I do recommend you contact an Attorney to protect your Tenant Rights! I am not a legal adviser! I can only give my opinion.

4) Call your local TV News Station! A public outcry of unfair treatment will get the media and public attention.

Here's a thought... This is not a 911-Emergency, but asking your local Police Department for advise could be considered.

The Police will advise that this is a Civil Matter and should be taken to an Attorney, but making a complaint about how you feel you are being "Ripped Off", may be considered as theft.

Hope This Helps,

Joe Trometer

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