A question we get often is “What do you mean by ‘all bills paid’?” Or “can I opt out and pay my own bills?” So to help with this common question, we decided to type up a quick article on just what “All Bills Paid” means
When we first bought a building that was “master metered” for electricity, the owner used to take all the bills each month (electricity, water, trash, gas), divide them up to all the tenants, and add these individual charges to their rent ledger. This seem very time consuming. Not only that, but it meant that the tenants didn’t know exactly what their bills would be, making auto draft for rent (which we strongly encourage) difficult.
So we took the time to review the previous 12 months of utilities. We found that, on average, the cost per unit (in our studios) for utilities (gas, water, trash, electricity) was just over $100/month. So we had the great idea of simply adding $100/month for utilities for all tenants. For most tenants, this saved money vs. what they were paying before, and gave them a consistent known amount to pay each month.
The advertised price of “All bills paid” units vs. traditional ‘get your own utilities’ units.
Since we have similar properties that are all bills paid, and some that are not, it’s made advertising the price challenging. If one rents for $900 and that price includes the “all bills paid”, and one is $900 but the tenant is responsible for their own utilities, it’s misleading to list them both as $900 since one of them comes with a large benefit (utilities paid) that the other doesn’t.
So since we assume a cost of $100/month for utilities, we’ll list the one property that has all bills paid (using the example rent above) for $800 + utilities. And the other for $900. Or, in some listings, the all bills paid one will specifically say “$900/month, all bills paid”
“So is it $800/month rent? $900/month rent? I’m confused”
Often tenants tell us they have a budget for rent of, say, $800, because they need to budget for utilities as well. In that case, if they saw our $900 listing that had the ‘all bills paid’ baked into the price, they’d think it was out of their range since they’d not realize that price included all utilities. But if they see it for $800, they’ll realize it’s in their range. The $100 for utility simply gets paid to us for all their utils vs. the tenant paying them to various utility companies.
The downside to this is often we’ll list as “$800/month rent + utilities” and explain that it’s $100/month for all the utilities and a prospective tenant will so “So rent is $900/month?”. No, not really. You’re paying $800/month for rent and $100/month for utilities. Just as if you found another apartment for $800/month that didn’t offer ‘all bills paid’ and you had to spend about $100/month on all your own utilities. It’s not fair to count the full price paid for our all bills paid properties against the price of a non all bills paid property which is why we break out the utilities in much of our advertising.
“So what’s included in ‘All bills paid’?”
Currently our “all bills paid” properties include: Water/sewer (often billed back to by other management companies to their tenants via a RUBS system as a separate bill), electricity (that’s a big one. Many tenants could pay over $100/month for this alone), gas (on properties with gas), trash, and at some properties, wifi (though at our wifi properties we offer it as a non-guaranteed amenity)
Which properties have this ‘All bills paid’ feature?”
The list changes as we buy and sell properties but as of this writing, all of our studios in Montrose (219 W. Alabama, 502 W Alabama, 1901 Richmond — as well as any larger units in those buildings), our studios in midtown (1624 Holman), a few of the units at our Bryan+Brady property, and our property in SE inner loop at 2606 Beatty.
“Can I opt out of ‘all bills paid’ and just get utilities on my own?”
I promise you’d pay more, and I’d love to have that option, but since these buildings were built “master metered”, and we don’t want to try to do individual bills for everyone, it’s not optional.
“What else can you tell me?”
According to apartmentlocatorok.com (who we give photo credit to), the basic utilities in a 915 sq.ft apartment comes to about $150+/month. Oblivious that number can change a lot depending on the month (cooling / heating differences), how heavily you use the HVAC, etc. But I think most can agree that it’d be hard to get all those utilities for under $100.
The site we linked above has the following “Pros” for living in an all-bills-paid apartment (quoting from their page):
Pros for living in an all-bills-paid apartment:
- You only have to keep track of one monthly bill, you won’t have to remember all the different due dates that come with separate utility bills.
- Monthly budgeting is much simpler. Ideally, you can take the amount that you would be spending on utilities and save it for other expenses.
- There are no activation fees for utilities. Sometimes certain companies require you to pay an activation charge when you switch electric service into your name. Because you don’t have to put the electric service in your name, you won’t have to pay extra move-in fees.
- There is no need to adjust your budget for seasonal costs. Utility companies adjust their rates based on the hot and cold months. Sometimes it can be challenging to plan your budget around this, but with all bills paid, your rates stay the same.
So we hope this answers most of the questions you might have about our all bills paid properties. If not, please feel free to ask. If there are enough questions, we’ll be happy to update this page.