When evaluating whether a landlord can bill tenants for water, electric or gas, the first question regards regulations. Yes, almost every state has a set of regulations governing submeters and Ratio Utility Billing. But no, that isn’t all. Within some states, a few counties and even cities have rules. Some cities regulate what types of meters are acceptable and others have a maximum late fee that a third-party biller can charge residents.
Some states and counties allow submeters but disallow RUBS. As crazy as it may sound, a few locales have even banned submetering altogether. One example is the city of Opa Locka in Miami-Dade, FL. I’m sure anti-conservationism isn’t their intention but it is a policy that encourages waste.
Perhaps the most complicated set of regulations is in California. The state has specific requirements governing what types of submeters are permitted. Before submeters are installed, the meters must be inspected. But different locales within Califonia that perform the inspections have different interpretations of the state’s rules. Pretty crazy, huh?
Ohio stands alone as the only state that doesn’t forbid third-party billers and landlords from marking up utility rates to residents. All other states allow only the utilities to establish rates. As a consequence, it looks like Ohio landlords and tenants are confused about submetering.