Billing back water when you cant get meters put in

So, I bought the park thinking I could bill back water, and would be pretty simple to install meters, but after talking to a couple contractors, they are talking anywhere from $60k - $200k on a 33 space park, just to dig up a place to set meters; then the city wants about $500 a pop on top. Water bill is currently between $20k and $20k. Lot rents are about $350 in semi-rural area.

Additionally, one contractor said his excavation sub-contractor knew the park from personal experience and called the in-ground lines “spaghetti” and wont work on it (sounds expensive even if I find someone willing to do it).

So, one plumber advised me that it is much easier just to skip the whole water meters and add it to the rent. Is this a good solution? But I really prefer not to be the collector when the city could do it, but the costs seem outrageous.

If so, I figured to average the water bill from last twelve months, then increase rent by that amount (annual bill ÷ total lots ÷ 12 months), which would be about an extra $70/mo… Then in one year from now, I review water for the year, and adjust. once a year as needed. I hope people would curb usage, but suspect leaks are common even though we dont see any evidence of (wet ground, grassy spots).

So on the low end, $16,500 to the city and $60,000 to the contractor and the city will take over billing too? I think it’s probably worth it, even if it is a bit steep at first…

Im guessing $60k is probably on the low end.

Just talked to another plumber who said that “private water billing” is something that goes on often here in the sate. Meaning: I buy my own meters, and just bill each tenant each month based on individual usage. Something I have not heard of before, but again, with already fairly high turnover, not sure I want to try to collect even more, and also manage the complex task of changing billing amounts each month. The main trade-off is that its much cheaper to put these meters in because there is no manhole for each unit (no excavation it sounds like).

Any ideas on the latter option?

  1. The 2 contractors have NO idea what theyre talking about. You dont need a manhole for each of the 33 meters to be installed. They’ll be ‘cut in’ under the home with heat tape around them. If the underground plumbing is all snakey its probably from idiots like you spoke to. Find diff contractors.

I’m confused by this post. Looks to me like they want to install underground water meters and you are then paying the city to take direct billing.

I have a 100+ space park and I submetered utilities. City charges the park for everyone. I bought Metron meters, they go under the home. It cost me 125/250 per home since some needed to fix the piping underneath or install heat tape with some minor electrical work to make it happen (winter).

I then pay Metron their monthly fee and invoice back tenants. Much cheaper solution for your situation.

However - If the city takes over direct billing it means your expense will be 0 no matter what - even with my solution there are headaches as I’m playing utility company. I have to have discussions on water usage, costs and billing is an extra overhead. I would be so happy if the city took the billing off my plate. This is called direct city billing and it is the most preferred setup for any park.

Hope this helps.

To clarify, I can only know of two options:

  1. CITY metering: We connect the existing lines using city-supplied meters, and then city bills directly. This involves excavation according to most I have talked to, to create meter pits /setters (a.k.a. manhole). City swears that we have to use their $450 meters because they are the only thing compatible with their wireless billing system. Excavators want an absurd amount to dig the setter holes (prob $2k-$4k each) , then there is the plumbing tie-in costs on top. Something doesnt sound right here, but I cant get any other info. We are in a pretty cold climate, but you would think there are alternatives to digging a bunch of holes to put meters in.

  2. PARK metering: This sounds like what you are doing with your Metron. Talking to a plumbing supply, they said probably $1500/lot, just for materials, but im not sure he knew what he was talking about.

BTW, contractors are almost non-existent here due to large backlog of work for most.

See my post below. I am thinking its because city requires their meters, in their preferred configuration.

Your are moving in the wrong direction. Do not dig. Install the meters above grade under the home. Do not accept the city’s proposal. They are charging you too much and requiring you to do too much. I would have a handyman install the meters for about $50 each plus about $300 for the equipment and be done with it for about $12,000. You may not be able to transfer the billing to the city, but you can do it do it yourself or outsource it.

Increasing lot rent to cover the water bill is not effective. Essentially you are just increasing rent, making tenants angry, but are still not charging for utilities and there is still no incentive to conserve. Put the meters in, and your water bills can drop by 40% within a month.

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Agree with this totally. One manhole with master city meter [that bills you each month]and the sub-meters under each mh are yours to deal with not the City. Join your state mh landlords assoc and get informed what others are doing legally.[not your City who think they can supercede state guidelines]

" You may not be able to transfer the billing to the city, but you can do it do it yourself or outsource it."

  1. How do you outsource this?
  2. Is it part of your rental collection software? Mine is pretty simplistic with no way to pay separate utility bill, but it is the only system that allows tenants to pay with cash in my area (moneygram)

There are numerous outsources. Metron in Colo., ABT Water, etc. There are you-tube videos also on meter installation and private companies who do the billings for you. Resource your state association for info.

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Billing residents for water and sewer:

Sub-metering, and using a third party billing service is far less expensive;
Budget @ $150 per home for RF metering equipment and approximately 1 to 2 hours in labor.

“We’re here to answer your sub-metering questions”

As I mentioned in my post about Metron, mPark’s solution is what I suggested. I got a basic handyman who installed the meters for less than 200 a lot, except some who had plumbing issues I decided to fix to meter correctly.

To outsource - Metron even offers taking over the billing for a higher fee and other companies you can look up do the billing as well. They cost some money but make the thing turn key.

I use rent manager and Metron helped me set it up. It’s not simple but they babied me through the setup.

For additional information on sub-metering , we have 25 plus years experience, see my numerous posts.

Regarding integrating utility charges into your management software, for almost all it’s a simple import file.

" We’re here to answer your sub-metering questions"

I tried a few meters years ago and they froze and broke during the winter, heat tapes quit. I was on my own wells for decades, they my Nitrates got too high and I was forced onto City water=, (covered by a grant, so no cost to me). I bought a trencher and put in a separate outside watering system to every lot in my park, so ALL outside watering is still on my wells. For City water I charge $10 per space and divide the remainder by the Number of people in each trailer. Since the Houses across the street get charged $38 per meter plus their actual usage, my tenants are know they are getting a deal. In the Winter I shut my wells off and blow compressed air through the system to prevent broken pipes in my shallow (6" to 12" deep) out side system. It seems to be working well.
The water Co. now has a grant to bring sewer to my Park, My septic system is working fine and cost me about $1400 every 3 years to have it pumped. They say the monthly fee will be a minimum of $49 per space. What gets me is All the installation will be paid for by the State, and the Septic pumper already dumps into their ponds. And they are pretty much telling me it is mandatory through a bunch of threats and inspections IF I do not hook up.

Have you looked into RUBS — Ratio Utility Billing System? You can check with your state MHP owners association to see whether RUBS is customary/legal in your state.

With RUBS, you do not encourage conservation, and your utility bill does not drop. Under RUBS you may be charging the tenant $70 which you pass through to the utility. If you meter, the $70 is reduced to about $42 (40% reduction in consumption is typical) saving the tenant about $28. Theoretically, you could increase the lot rent by $28 and the tenant is no worse off financially. Also, with RUBS, tenants get angry with each other. For example, if one guy waters the lawn or washes his car, the other tenants are subsidizing him and they get angry. Only metering is fair to all.

Well there you go. No decision needed.

Your park value will go up if you connect to sewer anyways. Figure out how to pass the cost along and you’re golden. I’d kill to get rid of my septics and on to city sewer.

Here is a Cheap trick I discovered decades ago and it works like a charm. When I first bought my Park the septic was getting pumped every 6 months, I tried expensive enzymes and bacterias, to no avail. I started adding equal parts of Baking soda, Yeast, and brown sugar, every 3 months, 2 pounds of each mixed and flushed into the system. I am now pumping every 3 years with more trailers on the tank and it still is not bad when I have it pumped. I get the stuff at Samsclub really cheap. Costco is no longer carrying the Yeast but has the others. The Yeast (bacteria) feeds on the Brown sugar and the baking soda boosts the oxygen and it grows fast, once mixed together, get it into the tank soon, do not leave it sitting around, because it will soon start growing.
The other trick is to educate your tenants NOT to pour cooking oil or grease down the kitchen sink, pour it into the garbage. Grease is a leach field killer. Most tenants will cooperate once they know it is harmful to the system.

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