recently bought a small apartment building that does not have separate gas and
electric meters for each apartment. The previous owner simply divided up the
utility bill among the tenants. That doesn’t seem fair to me. What are my
First, check your state law and make sure that shared meters
are even legal. In some states, such as New
York, shared meters are against the law.
utility arrangements are legal in your state, start by disclosing the shared
utilities. If there are not separate meters for each rental unit, or if a tenant’s meter measures gas or electricity in
areas used outside the tenant’s unit (such as a water heater that serves
several apartments or lighting in a common area), you should disclose this in your
lease or rental agreement. This type of disclosure is required by law in some
states, (see the Nolo article Required
Landlord Disclosures for your state rules), including California.
Regardless of whether your state law requires landlords to disclose shared
utility arrangements to tenants, it’s the fair thing to do.
The best solution is to put in a separate meter for the
areas served outside the tenant’s unit. If you don’t do that, you should opt
for one of the following:
For more advice on making disclosures to tenants,
see the Nolo book Every
Landlord’s Legal Guide, by Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner, and Janet