4 Common Utility Billing Mistakes That Hurt Your Bottom Line

Posted by Livable Content Team on Apr 11, 2022 7:00:00 AM

In a world of softening rental markets and rising utilities, utility cost recovery is essential to your bottom line!  Even a simple mistake in your billing system can end up costing thousands. Avoid these four common utility billing errors to keep your investments healthy.

1. USING THE WRONG UTILITY RATESAdobeStock_310454083

Stay updated on correct utility rates recover the right amounts from your Residents. Utility rates may increase regularly, and failing to stay on top of these changes can result in significant financial losses. Verifying prices may seem like a simple task, but it is one that should never be overlooked. By conducting a monthly check for each utility, you can ensure that you are billing your residents accurately and avoid any potential discrepancies.

Utility rates also vary depending on the location and provider. Imagine the frustration of realizing that you have been undercharging your Residents for months or even years due to using the wrong rates! Not only would you be responsible for the difference, but you would also have to find a way to recover those lost funds.

Verifying utility rates should be a routine part of your property management strategy. By staying informed about any rate changes and adjusting your billing system accordingly, you can ensure that you are recovering the correct amounts from your residents. This simple yet essential step can save you thousands of dollars in the long run and contribute to the overall health of your investments.

You can do this by going to your state or local public utilities commission website and searching for the most current rates and tariffs associated with your providers. 

2. USING THE WRONG UTILITY CALCULATION

Utility bills can be distributed in a variety of ways, depending on the complexity of the billing system and the level of precision desired. Here are some common calculations for this purpose and how they work: 

Equal Split Method: This is the simplest way to split utility bills evenly among apartment units. Each unit pays an equal share, regardless of factors such as unit size, occupancy, or usage. 
Total Utility Bill / Number of Apartment Units = Each Unit's Share
This method is straightforward but may not accurately reflect actual usage patterns, which can lead to unfairness in bills and upset Residents.

Proportionate Area Method: This method takes into account the square footage or floor area of each apartment unit. Larger units are assigned a larger share of the utility costs. 
(Unit Area / Total Building Area) * Total Utility Bill = Each Unit's Share
This method is more equitable than the equal split method but still doesn't consider variations in occupancy or usage within units.

Occupancy-Based Method: This approach factors in the number of occupants in each apartment unit. Units with more occupants pay a larger share of the utility costs.
(Number of Occupants in Unit / Total Number of Occupants) * Total Utility Bill = Each Unit's Share
This method considers the number of people using the utilities, making it fairer in cases where occupancy varies from unit to unit even if the square footage is the same. 

The choice of method depends on various factors, including the building's infrastructure, the fairness desired by both property owners and residents, and local regulations. It's essential to communicate the chosen method clearly to all residents to avoid disputes over utility bill allocations. Additionally, consulting with legal and regulatory experts can help ensure compliance with local laws and regulations governing utility billing in multi-unit residential buildings.

With so many allocation options, it can be hard to know exactly how to bill for your property, and selecting the wrong one can hurt your cost recovery. The right utility billing company can help you customize your RUBS Program to suit your specific needs.

Ratio Utility Billing Systems (RUBS) like Livable’s are designed to help Housing Providers who don't want to pay the high up-front costs of submetering and can't get utility providers to service the units individually.  RUBS is more complicated than simply dividing your utility expenses by the number of units. A quality billing service will use complex algorithms to generate fair, transparent bills for your Residents. 

3. SENDING UTILITY BILLS LATE

Late invoicing can have a significant impact on cost recovery and can disrupt the payment process forAdobeStock_304261179 residents. When utility bills arrive late, residents who are expected to pay on time may be thrown off, resulting in delayed or missed payments. This can lead to financial losses for property owners and managers.

Late invoicing not only affects the cash flow of the property, but it also creates a sense of uncertainty and frustration among residents. When bills are not received in a timely manner, it can cause confusion and make residents question the reliability of the property management team. This can lead to strained relationships and even potential tenant turnover.

To avoid these issues, it is crucial for property owners and managers to prioritize timely invoicing. By implementing an efficient billing system, property managers can ensure that bills are generated and sent out promptly. This can be achieved through the use of automated software or outsourcing the task to a reliable utility billing company.

To address this issue, Livable offers a comprehensive utility billing solution that ensures timely and accurate invoicing. With Livable's system, utility costs for water, sewer, trash, and more are allocated based on various factors, allowing for fair and precise billing. This automated system ensures that bills are sent directly to residents on time, eliminating any delays in the payment process.

By implementing Livable's customizable system, property owners and managers can streamline their utility billing process and improve cost recovery. Residents can receive their bills directly, making it convenient for them to review and pay their utility expenses. Livable provides multiple payment options, including online, phone, and mail, giving residents the flexibility to choose the method that works best for them.

Don't let late invoicing hinder your cost recovery. Take advantage of Livable's expertise and advanced technology to ensure that utility bills are sent out on time and payments are made promptly. Schedule a meeting with one of Livable's experts today and start saving on utilities.

4. NOT MONITORING LEAKS

Regular maintenance is crucial for preventing leaks from becoming a financial burden on your portfolio. By implementing a thorough maintenance schedule and conducting regular checks, you can identify and address any plumbing issues before they escalate. It's important to create an environment where residents feel comfortable reporting maintenance needs, such as leaky faucets or running toilets, to you or your management team.

A leaky faucet or a running toilet might not seem like a major concern at first, but the constant dripping or flowing of water can lead to higher water bills and increased utility costs. Additionally, it can cause water damage to walls, floors, and other areas, requiring expensive repairs. By addressing these issues promptly, you can save both money and resources.

Taking proactive steps, such as replacing toilet flaps once or twice a year, may seem like a small investment, but it can yield significant returns in the long run. Not only will you prevent water wastage and potential damage to your property, but you'll also avoid the accompanying financial repercussions.

To ensure a comprehensive maintenance plan, consider partnering with professional plumbers or maintenance personnel who can conduct regular inspections and handle any necessary repairs. By investing in preventive measures and promptly addressing plumbing issues, you can protect your bottom line and create a positive living environment for your residents (increasing retention, another great way to improve your NOI).

Save with Livable Pro!

 

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