One of the best ways to save money on utility bills to is make sure your property doesn’t pay for bills for which a tenant is responsible. The frequency with which managers pay for tenant bills is amazing and the dollars associated are incredibly large. Often this service is the leading source of utility savings for our clients.
Oftentimes, properties have a continuing service agreement with utility providers. So when units are vacant, the utilities stay on, making turnovers much easier. Unfortunately, utilities that should be in a tenant’s name can be billed to the property instead. The tenant knows there is a very good chance they will get away with it because…well, they often do. Tenants may neglect to put the account in their name at move in, take it out of their name during their tenancy, or close their account before they move out. Tenants know that property staff have so much going on that it’s hard for them to check each bill against the rent roll. Paying a tenant’s utility bill is an unintended, generous rent concession.
If the bill is not a resident’s responsibility, we analyze it to make sure it is in line with expectations. Second to paying someone else’s bills, there is no bigger waste of money than overpaying for utilities in vacant units. High vacant bills often follow staff or contractor changes where they are aware of the property’s policies on how to leave the utilities in a unit after they show it or work in it. Thermostats don’t care if no one is living in the unit and it is not uncommon to see $200+ bills when people forget to set a reasonable vacant temperature. The focus here is to help clients identify when their process has not worked, so they can prevent future high bills.