Extra occupant surcharge while submetering water/sewer


#1

Does anyone submeter water/sewer AND have an “extra occupant” surcharge?

I recently purchased a park with master-meter water/sewer and the town has agreed to install municipal submeters.

The prior owners charged a $25/month/occupant surcharge for homes with more than four occupants, I believe primarily to compensate for the additional water/sewer charge.

I’d like to maintain the $25/month for extra occupants, but am struggling with how to justify it. Any suggestions?


#2

We have submetering state laws that do not allow charges beyond what was used.

I wouldn’t look for a reason to add an extra charge for certain homes - don’t get yourself into a potential fair housing or discrimination issue…even though that’s not the intent.


#3

Good point. However, if you submeter and don’t charge extra for additional occupants over a certain number, how do you prevent, say, 7 occupants in a singlewide? Do you just include a maximum number of residents per home in your park rules?


#4

There is probably a health code that regulates number of occupants. Well maybe , you can check the local City code or health department. From having an apartment once we had 2 per bedroom plus an Infant up to 6 month as the rule but don’t remember if that was city /county or health department level


#5

When you submeter utilities its going to read the usage no matter how many people are in the home. If there are 10 people in the home than obviously its going to read more usage than a home with 1 person. Just raise the rent or maybe charge less and make it a “Trash” fee.


#6

@Marvel_Equity is correct. And while local government may have rules, HUD also has guidelines that 2 per bedroom is a fair limit from a Fair Housing perspective. They also go on to state “the Department believes that in appropriate circumstances, owners and managers may develop and implement reasonable occupancy requirements based on factors such as the number and size of sleeping areas or bedrooms and the overall size of the dwelling unit.”

I read this to say you can be more strict in your park rules and screening criteria when it makes sense. This is not legal advice, so seek local counsel before taking action.


#7

Good stuff. Thanks for linking this. We were with talking to someone who was buying a new house and would have 4 children 2 parents and a grandma. I didn’t give it much thought until reading this topic but it sounds like maybe something that might disqualify on a 3 bed. Good timing for this topic as a refresher.


#8

Normally when a septic system is installed you indicate the number of people for occupancy so the correct laterals are used. We have seem where permits were only for 2 people and if more you are going against the originally permit issued.
When water is already being metered and charged for why would you charge more for the service.
Personally we have never individual metered water since our cost per resident per month is less than $5 but we will charge more for more than 2 occupants and thus avoiding lots of cars and ?? occupants.


#9

Matt,
Can you clarify as I’m a bit confused. You said that the town is installing the meters. Does this mean that

  1. They are installing indivi1. dual meters for each home
  2. They will be billing each home the water/sewer charges

If Yes and Yes, then this is great and you stay out of the utility discussion. This would be the best scenario.

Even if you still do the billback to tenants, be VERY careful. What you are proposing sounds like charging more than the actual usage amount - this is assumed as tenants will be billed for all their actual usage and you should not charge more than that (ex standard fees like stormwater or admin). Check your ordinances but this is illegal in many places as you are not a utility company.

If your concern is about too many people in a home, that needs to be treated as a separate matter than the utility billback issue. Do not merge these two topics together.


#10

Hi Howard,

Thanks for your reply.

Yes, The town is installing individual meters for each home and will direct bill.

You are absolutely right that me adding an extra occupant surcharge explicitly for water/sewer when the units are submetered and direct billed by the town would not be a good idea.

The challenge is that the prior owners did not specify in their lease agreements why they were charging a $25/occupant surcharge for homes with more than four occupants.

If for no other reason then safety, I believe that as a park owner I do have a right to regulate the number of occupants per home.

I am leaning towards eliminating the extra occupant surcharge and simply adding something to my rules stating that the maximum number of occupants, unless otherwise approved by management, is two per bedroom in each home. I’ll have to check with local govt, but this appears to be HUD compliant, per jhutson’s above post.