Your multifamily property is almost guaranteed to have some type of leaking water fixture. It could be a dripping kitchen faucet, running toilet or leaky shower. If you have a 100 unit property, chances are 3-5 units have leaks of some kind that go unreported. Tenants would rather not have leaky faucets or running toilets but they often fail to alert property management of these issues when they arise.
Running toilets are often left unreported because they can go visually unnoticed. Consider the following:
• It takes a toilet 1-2 minutes to fill back up with water after it’s been flushed.
• Most new toilets installed after the mid 1990’s use 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf).
Using the above figures we’ll take the scenario of a tenant whose unit has a toilet that was installed 8-10 years ago. The fill valve or flapper has begun to deteriorate, causing the toilet to constantly run. We all know the saying, “just jiggle the handle and the toilet will stop running.” Well, unit number “just jiggle the handle” can cost you a lot of money as a property owner if that toilet leak goes unreported.
A 1.6 gpf toilet fills at an average rate of 1 gallon per minute. Using that rate we can say the leaky toilet could use up to 60 gallons per hour and 1,440 gallons per day. At a rate of $2.50 per 1,000 gallons that equates to $108 per month in additional water costs.
Water isn’t the only cost associated with that leaky toilet. For every gallon of water used, an additional wastewater charge is incurred. Let’s say that leaky toilet will also receive a wastewater charge of $4.50 per 1,000 gallons of water used. This equates to $194 in wastewater charges per month for that unreported leaky toilet. In just one month that unit with the unreported leaky toilet could cost the property $302 in water and wastewater charges (43,000 gallons).
Let’s say the resident ignores the leaky toilet for the entire year without reporting it to maintenance. That single toilet could allow up to 500,000+ gallons of water to run through a year. Just that one leaky toilet could rack up additional costs for the property as high as $3,624 in a year.
Eliminating costs associated with unreported leaks is just one of the many reasons why submetering your multifamily property is so beneficial. When units are submetered, tenants are charged only for the utilities they use. I tenants receive a high water or sewer bill, it is likely that they will inquire for the reason, which often times is a running toilet. Even more important than a quality submetering system is the company that is actually billing tenants using that submetering system.
With each monthly billing of your property, WaterWatch Corporation takes the extra step to notify property management of any units whose metered usage exceeded 10,000 gallons in one month. This proactive customer service is just one example of what sets WaterWatch apart from other companies in the submetering industry. Without the means to monitor and pass on utility usage costs to tenants, the property owner could be paying for much more than they should be.
When was the last time you were notified that a unit is incurring $3,624 in additional utility costs at one of your properties?
Andris Silins has a combined 20+ years experience in the utility submetering and multifamily residential real estate industries. He is currently the Operations & Technology Manager at WaterWatch Corporation.