Submetering for water

Hi all:

First off, like to thank you all for such an informative forum and yes I’ve purchased and read Dave and Frank books.

As a first time buyer of a mobile home park you get kinda nervous, so I hope my question is valid.

I found a park for sell, it as 24 lots with 21 filled, no POH’s. The lot rent is 250.00 a month with utilities paid by the park owner. There is no submeters for water on the homes and the city allows submeters.

The owner pays about 27,000 a yr water bill, seems high to me, about 100.00+ a month per unit.

How do I go about submetering the home without the tenants moving or selling there homes because of a 100.00 dollar increase?

Also, there are very few mobile home parks in this town and the numbers look good, about a 12% cap rate at its present state, much higher if I submeter.

Thanks so much.

First off a few things to note…

  1. The tenant’s water bills won’t be a $100 per month after completion. Once they are submetered and being charged for water you will see a pretty sizable drop in usage. If your residents right now are paying the exact same dollar amount per month whether they are in the shower for 5 minutes of 45 minutes they’ll probably just stay in for the 45. Once they have the proverbial skin in the game they will change their habits.

  2. You will have some sort of common area usage on your meter. Usually runs like 10% of the total bill but can be more if you have a pool and more detailed landscaping. So don’t think that the full 27k is being used by the tenants.

  3. If you have an explanation with your residents that water costs are too high (and rising) and attach some of the documentation to prove as such 90% of people won’t have an issue with paying what they use. RUBS programs can be a little trickier but a submetering people generally get on board with. You pay for what you use, end of story.

My guess is most people will pay around $30-40 per month on their bills if there’s no landscaping which over the course of a year is a helluva lot cheaper than moving their home. Shoot over your email address, I can recommend a good company that can help you out.

We install and read our own meters. The cost is about 90/meter and remote reader, and we pay about 60 to have them installed. We also offer each tenant a handyman / plumbing person to help them stop the leaks prior to the first bills. So we might offer 2 hours of the persons time to each resident if they need something fixed. The tenant supplies the hardware- and we pay someone to supply the labor. We also to a test billing cycle or two so the tenants can see if their usage is high. Leaks are easy to detect, read the meter on the outside of the home prior to going to bed, read it again first thing in the morning, if it has changed you have a leak. We bill back water, sewer and trash. I would guess on average our water bills run about $20-30 per month. Sewer can be another 20 or so on top of that. Some states will allow you to surcharge- so check the laws. Some also require you keep the same billing cycle, and might have bill seasoning laws as well. Like- the bill must be postmarked 15 days prior to the due date. They also might have rules as to when, or if, you can cut the water supply for non payment.

We use Badger meters, but that subject is discussed in several threads on this forum.

It is great you will be passing through the water charges- that will put that 27K (most of it) right onto your bottom line. I did the same thing to a park a few years back, its water / sewer / trash bill was 67,000 a year… The bills, though they pass through now, are about 1/3 of what they were when I bought the park.

One point- when you charge for water people do not water the grass! So- just know landscaping takes a hit when you submeter… think about encouraging xeriscaping!

Jim - Have you had any trouble with the remote readers? We just installed 90 Badger meters with the remotes on the homes and 20 of the remotes are not moving. I’m getting reports that some residents are tampering with the remotes. What ahve been some of your typical problems with those meters?



They work well for us. From time to time one will fail- I have a 40 pad park with them running and I might have 1 or 2 fail per year. If the residents tamper with the remote- you can always go to the main on the meter itself. I have a texas park with them, and we have never had a remote or main meter replacement in about 5 years now. That park has 60 meters running in it.

I found a pretty good article that describes a few different ways to handle water submetering from simple meters with a manual read up to complete wireless systems.

Water Metering Solutions for Mobile Home Parks
I just saw that this is 8 years old… I thought it was Aug 13th not Aug 2013 - anyway… I’ll post it because I think people will find it useful.

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I find the date on the right very confusing also. It does look like Aug 13th. Concerning meters I highly recommend the remote read and billed meters tho I had resisted the initial expense for years. Holds the resident accountable for usage, helps monitor waste and increases the value of the property.