Locked down by leases

I have a park with current leases that don’t expire until 12 months later. The leases don’t spell out who pays for water even though the previous owner has been paying for the water. It just says the tenant must pay for the other utilities (did not list water). I want to pass this onto the tenants. Any creative ways to not get locked down by these leases?

Creative and legal are very different things. If your lease does not give you the right to pass on water then you need to do your part and wait. If you’re not sure then you need an attorney in the state to assist you. You can get in real trouble meddling with this illegally.

Also you need to look into the legalities of submetering for your state. I had to register with our Public Utility Commission (PUC) to submeter to our tenants. We also have to provide pamphlets of tenant rights for electricity and water submetering as part of the leases. In Texas you’d be stuck waiting out the 12 month agreement you put in place unless the tenant agrees to novate the lease.

Agreed, you’re going to need to talk to an attorney.

Even in a lax state, you’re probably not going to be able to push back water and sewer costs until the expiration of the leases. The lease is vague and doesn’t define who is responsible for water and sewer, and the previous owner choosing to pay for water set a precedent that the park is paying for water.

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First step is to study your state landlord tenant laws/regulations. Don’t waste money consulting a lawyer until you have first studied the legislation that is available. IT is your responsibility as a landlord to know the regulations.
The rental business is not that complicated when you have the legislation readily available and is usually easy to understand. For clarification there is usually a local landlord organisation that can provide free advice.
You will find a term lease is binding and can not be modified without a tenants approval. A term lease places the tenant in control of your property for the duration of that lease which is why most landlords will avoid using them. Worst case you wait till all leases expire and then have all residents on M2M leases going forward. Your state regulations will then define notification periods for implementing changes.

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That’s one of the reasons why we went with 6 months (then month-month), instead of a full year lease. That way, we’d only have to wait 6 months to make changes.