Friday, August 4, 2017

Top 5 Reasons Why Renter’s Insurance Is Essential

Let us talk about a topic that is often unfamiliar to most people in a way that is easy to understand and will, in the case of emergencies, save you plenty of headaches. When it comes to homeowner’s insurance, over 95% of homeowners have it. The reason for this is notably obvious; if something in your home goes wrong, you are covered. Think of it like car insurance!

However, only about 37% of renters have opted into renter’s insurance. The reasons for this is often due to misguided information.
  • Most renters incorrectly assume they are covered by their landlord’s policy.
  • Most renters underestimate the total value of everything they have. 
With this in mind, if you just added the value of your electronics alone, you would probably reach the thousands easily.

The last and the most overlooked reason that renters haven opted in for insurance is liability. In short, if someone gets hurt in your home, a friend, food delivery guy, or neighbor, they could sue you. This is quite a scary situation to get caught in. So, let’s discuss the top 5 reasons renter’s insurance is essential.
  • Covers Losses to Personal Property
No, your landlord is not liable for the damage to your personal property. Once again, this is an assumption that can cost a hefty price, in the event of an emergency. A renter’s insurance policy protects against losses to items such as clothes, luggage, electronics, and even jewelry. The average renter owns roughly $20,000 worth of personal property, making this the standard option when opting-in for insurance.  Quite surprisingly, a standard home owner’s insurance policy for renters covers losses from a vast amount of risks. These risks include:
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Explosion
  • Fire or lightning
  • Smoke
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Volcanic Eruption
  • Damage from water
  • Damage caused by an aircraft
So, in the case that a volcanic eruption occurs under your apartment, you could be covered for your really nice $1,200 high definition TV. Don’t you think it’s a smart move to insure your personal belongings? With that said, as you decide to pick a insurance company, it is important to pay attention thoroughly to the details. Depending on the company and insurance policy, you may not be covered for certain perils like floods or earthquakes. Do not forget to always compare prices and read the fine print.
  • Travel with Security
One other beneficial aspect about having renter’s insurance is you are covered even when you are across the world. In the case that you go to vacation in Thailand or Paris for two weeks and a theft or fire occurs in your apartment, you are covered from such events, even as you sit on a beach in the Bahamas.

This is a good deal considering that while you are on vacation, you are also receiving peace of mind.
  • Provides Liability Coverage
This is one of the reasons why renter’s insurance comes in handy! In the case that a neighbor or family member is accidentally injured in your apartment, your liability coverage would cover all potential expenses, depending upon the policy limit.

Of course, you can request a higher coverage, but for the most part, insurance policies provide between $1,000 and $5,000 for medical-payments and at least $100,000 of liability coverage. In the case when you need more than that, ask your insurance company about an umbrella policy. This policy can cover up to $1 million worth of coverage for a yearly payment of $150-$300.
  • Covers Living Expenses
In the case that an emergency does occur and your apartment happens to be uninhabitable, your policy may cover “additional living expenses.” These expenses can include: food, temporary housing, and more. Make sure to ask your insurance company the length and amount you are covered for in the case you cannot live in your rental home or apartment.
  • It Is Not Expensive
This is where most people tend to be shocked. Renters insurance is not that expensive! The average renter’s insurance policy costs about $187 a year, according to the NAIC in 2013. All of this of course depends on the coverage that you request, whether you live in an apartment or in a home, the state that you live in, and the minimum coverage your landlord requests.

When it comes to insuring your valuables, never underestimate the value of your personal items and what emergencies can occur. For a standard rule of thumb, you will want to find a rental policy that follows these guidelines to protect your belongings in any emergency.

What you are covered for:
  • Clothes
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Decorations
  • Sports Equipment
  • Hotel bills and meals if you cannot stay in your home.
  • Belongings in an off-site storage facility on the premises. 
Subject to limits or extra coverage:
  • Collectibles
  • Security and money
  • Furs
  • Firearms
  • Gift Cards
  • Art
Not Covered by most policies
  • Intentional Damage
  • Vermin Infestation (ex. Bed Bugs)
  • Earthquake Damage
  • Floods due to natural causes

Understanding the importance of renter’s insurance will inspire you to take an extra measure in securing your future from any possible accidents or events. You can walk out and about with a bit of added security knowing that your home and your belongings are safe.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

3 Important Utility Tips To Know As A First Time Renter

Congratulations! You have spread your wings towards adulthood and your first step is to get your own home. This is certainly a big feat in your life and with such great accomplishments comes great responsibility. These responsibilities include everything from making sure you turn off the coffee maker on your way out the door to paying your rent on time. However, there a couple tasks you need to accomplish before you can get your keys and set foot in your new home. This is where we come in! Let us talk about important utility tips to know as a first-time renter.

Tip 1: Do Not Be Afraid of The Responsibilities

As a first-time renter, out on your own in the world, it can be quiet overwhelming to set everything up from water, electric, and even the internet. This includes the deposits and all that jazz that comes with moving. The good news is that with a proper checklist, you can get it all done in time if you take it step by step.

Tip 2: Know Your Utility Checklist 

The first question to answer is: What utilities do you need to set up? Make sure you give yourself roughly about two weeks before moving in to set it all up. Our advice is to never wait until the last minute. You don’t want to risk moving in with no power, water, or insurance for that matter.

The utility checklist includes:

1. Electricity
2. Natural Gas
3. Internet, Cable, and Telephone
4. Security/Alarm Systems
5. Trash Collection
6. Water and Sewer
7. Renters Insurance
As a new renter, it is important to know which utilities you are responsible for. Depending on your landlord, they may cover certain utilities such as water and trash. As a standard rule of thumb, they will cover your utility to a certain price point.
For example: Your landlord may cover your water bill up to $30 a month. If your water bill is $55 a month, you are responsible for paying the difference which in this case totals to $25.
Another important matter is research is what are the preferred providers within your apartment community. Ask your rental company or landlord if your future home is wired to receive cable or satellite. By asking your landlord, you remove some of the guesswork during your utility set up.

To better help you out, here are some key questions to ask your landlord prior to setting up your utilities. 

1. Which utilities am I responsible for? 
2. What are the preferred providers for each utility such as, cable, internet, and phone?
3. In the case that your apartment community/landlord covers a certain amount of utilities, you can ask: how much is covered monthly for this certain utility? (water, electric, gas)

Tip 3: Setting Up Your Most Important Utility Services

Setting up your utility services is not difficult, it just takes time. However, we have compiled below simple tips, instructions, and questions you can ask during this stage of the process.


Electricity, without a doubt, is a need. Anything you plug into power outlets uses electricity. Since any electrical appliance will use different degrees of electricity, it is important to note if the appliances in your apartment are Energy Saving appliances.
When setting up your utility services, most companies will stop and start your electricity within 24 hours. It is recommended to set your utilities up ahead of time just in case. With most utilities, the cost will vary depending on how much you use them. On average, a tenant spends roughly $40-$60 on utilities depending on certain factors: state, usage, and taxes.
Take the time to study your electricity provider and give them a call. Normally, your electric bill is prorated depending on the time of the month you are moving in. Therefore, it is important to note that your electric bill may be lower your first month then your second month. 

Natural Gas

Many apartment communities may offer natural gas for cooking or heating. Therefore, it is important to know if you will be having a gas utility apart from your electric utility bill. If natural gas is only for cooking purposes, you can predict your bill to be roughly $10-$20. However, if your gas utility also includes heating your home as well as a hot water heater, it is safe to say your utility service will be much higher.

It typically will take a natural gas provider about one week to process your request to start or stop your gas services. As a result, it is recommended that you accomplish this about one to two weeks before moving into your new home.

Internet, Cable, and Telephone

Normally, you can purchase all three of these utilities as a bundle, if desired. It is important to ask your landlord if they offer any packages for choosing their preferred provider. At times, you might receive basic cable for free or a discount off your internet!

It is highly recommended to call ahead of time to secure a time slot to set internet, cable, and telephone. Your provider will most likely need to enter your apartment building to set up your router for Wi-Fi internet access and your cable box. Please note that if you already have the proper equipment, you may take it with you.
Now, there may be a fee to set up these utilities with brand new equipment. Remember to ask questions about extra fees, late fees, due date, and any special deals they may have.

Water and Sewer

This is one of the utilities that at times a landlord will cover to a certain amount. When setting up your water, you can sometimes do it online. If not, visit your city’s utility department and set it up physically. Normally, as a first-time renter, there is a deposit for setting up your water. The good news is this deposit you could get back within one to two years, depending on your provider and state that you live in. To receive your deposit back, you must consistently make on-time payments through the entire first one or two years.

This is quiet an easy step that only requires you to visit the local utility department and set it up. As always, ask questions such as: When will I receive my bill? Are there late fees and penalties? 

Congratulations – You Are a Utility Expert

The most exciting part is the reward that you are out on your own, in your own home, accomplishing a bit feat of life. This is an exciting time that, at times, can be perceived as stressful. We are here to say that, if you have a great checklist, ask proper questions, and take it step by step, you will be enjoying your new home in no time. As a first-time renter, congratulations and we hope you found our utility tips helpful!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Use of Submetering in Residential and Commercial Settings Promotes Conservation and Increases Income

Multifamily Utility Company helps owners and managers decrease operating costs while promoting conservation through the use of water, gas, and electric submeters.
Multifamily Utility Company is one of the leading utility submetering companies to offer submetering of water, gas and electricity to commercial and multifamily residential properties. With over 20 years of experience, Multifamily Utility offers numerous services relating to utility submetering, conservation, and management while providing proven excellence in customer service, reliability, and dependability.

Multifamily living units and commercial structures have historically had their utility usage included with their rent rather than calculated and billed based on actual consumption. This leads to little or no incentive to conserve the resource. In turn this has a negative effect on the property owner’s net operating income (NOI) and is wasting both renewable and nonrenewable natural resources.

Requiring tenants to pay for their actual utility usage will practically guarantee that residents will refrain from being wasteful and helping to save our rapidly depleting natural resources. Landlords will save money too, even if they are not charging rent that includes utilities. When less water flows through fixtures, when less electricity flows through light bulbs, and when less gas travels through pipes, there is less wear-and-tear on these delivery systems and appliances which translates to less maintenance costs and a higher NOI for the landlord.

Multifamily Utility Company sells, installs, monitors, and services some of the most reputable non-proprietary meters and electronic meter reading systems such as Neptune, Master Meter, Elster, Wellspring, E-Mon, IMS/Leviton, Inovonics and Norgas. All of their submeters are code-compliant and once installed, their staff works with your maintenance crew to resolve any issues that may arise. They can install submeters in new construction or can retrofit or replace established utility submetering systems. They take responsibility for reading meters, sending bills to tenants, receiving payments, and disbursing utility charges back to the property owner or manager. Taking the administrative burden of billing from the owners and managers lets them continue to focus on the property and tenants.

Curbing Utility Wastefulness Through the Use of Submeters

When I was in college, I lived in an apartment in which the rent I was charged included all of my utilities. I fondly recall the cold winter nights when I cranked the electric heat up to toasty levels while my cat and I lounged on the bed under the open window. The fresh, cold, clean air mixed with the warmth of my apartment was heavenly and although I loved it, I’m quite sure my landlord did not.

I didn’t realize how selfish I was back then and how wasteful I was being of my utilities and natural resources. Unfortunately, this scenario is still very common among apartment dwellers and other multifamily housing units whether rents include utilities or not. Our natural resources are dwindling, our economy is still struggling, yet too many folks continue to waste utilities and make someone else pay for them in one way or another.

So how can property owners cut costs and increase their net operating income (NOI)? The answer is by submetering all of the tenants’ utilities via individual meters or through a fair Ratio Utility Billing System. Doing this will force tenants to pay for their own utilities and give them an idea of their consumption tendencies each month. The hope is that they will more careful of their utility usage but if not, they will bear the cost of their imprudence, not the landlord.

In addition to saving money by simply using less water, gas, or electricity, property owners will save money and time on maintenance issues. For example, when less water is running through hot water heaters, plumbing, faucets, and shower heads, the wear-and-tear on these structures will subsequently be less. This gives these items more longevity which not only means less repairs and replacements but more time for the landlord to focus on other operational and upkeep issues.

If you are the owner or manager of a commercial or residential property with multiple tenants and you are interested in putting in submeters, you may wonder how to get the process started. There are utility submetering companies online that outline their services in a concise manner and who have friendly and helpful staff to help get you started. Choose a company who has experience with submetering and who maintains an excellent reputation for quality service. The company installing your submeters should also be the ones performing maintenance and any future repairs as well as be responsible for billing and collecting payments from your tenants. This ensures that you will be working with a company who understands the unique needs of submetering and the way it promotes conservation and increased NOI for you. And since your submeters will be a fixed part of your property for a long time, it is essential to develop a relationship with the best utility submetering company in the field.

How Submetering Can Help Save Money and the Planet

Have you heard about the practice of submetering? Do you know what submetering is? If you answered “no” to either or both of those questions, this article will give you a brief synopsis of what submetering is, and what it is not.

First, a definition: submetering is a system of individual utility meters that are installed in each residential or commercial unit and measures the utility usage of each unit. The meter readings are relayed to a central utility submetering company that bills each tenant. It is most often used in multifamily housing units such as apartment complexes, condominiums, mobile home parks, and military base housing; it is also often used in commercial settings such as shopping malls, warehouses, medical clinics, marinas, and so forth.

Here is a common scenario: one tenant in an apartment complex conserves utilities but another does not. The former tenant ends up paying for the latter tenant’s wastefulness in terms of money (rental increases) and environmental impact. Since utilities are derived from natural resources, wasting utilities directly correlates with wasting natural resources. Not everyone cares about the environment but surely everyone cares about spending less and saving more!

If this apartment complex used submeters, the latter tenant will be solely responsible for paying for their squandering ways and the other tenants will not be financially impacted. This will hopefully make the latter tenant aware of their wasteful ways and they will choose to be more conservative with their utility usage. Their rent may not go up the following year because his landlord does not have increasing utility expenses to cover. Conclusion: submetering is a good for both tenants and landlords.

It is possible that an established residential or commercial building cannot employ submeters. This may be due to the fact that they cannot be installed into an older building or the cost to install them is too great. An alternative to submetering is something called a Ratio Utility Billing System, or RUBS. RUBS is a calculation of utility usage that it based on the size, type, and occupancy of the residential or commercial space rather than blindly estimating without giving heed to such things. RUBS also uses the actual property utility bill to ensure tenants are not charged more than the landlord in any given month. To ensure a fair RUBS landlords will have a utility submetering company provide this service which verifies the size, type, and occupancy of each unit and combining that information with pre-set industry-wide standards that comply with state and local regulations.

There is no doubt about it, submetering saves money for tenants and property owners alike. It conserves natural resources and lessens the burden on the environment. It is progressive and allows residents and employees to feel good about living and working in a “green” atmosphere. Will everyone care that submetering can help save the planet? No. But one thing that most people have in common is the desire to save money and submetering can help accomplish that.

Submetering is Good for the Environment and Great for the Bank Account

The need to conserve natural resources has never been greater and more and more people are choosing to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Individual citizens can do their part by choosing “greener” ways to live but there needs to be a way to conserve on a larger scale. No matter how “green” we wish to live, we still need to have electricity, water, and gas and these utilities are derived from renewable and nonrenewable natural resources. Most of us are not in control of making our own power and utilities, so all we can do is learn to be more judicious in our consumption. But that is not always an easy task, especially when we have no idea just how much of a particular utility we are using.

Submetering is a system of individual meters where the cost of utilities is determined by actual utility usage, rather than a broad estimate or allotment of what is used. Actual utility consumption is measured by distinct utility meters placed in or around an individual housing unit or commercial business or building. The utility usage is sent to a independent utility submetering company who calculates precise charges and bills each tenant accordingly.

Here is an example: A person owns a small strip mall. This person charges a flat rental price for each business regardless of how many people work in each store. If all utilities are included in the rental fee, chances are that the tenants will not be too concerned about the amount of utilities they are using. If the rental fee does not include utilities, the tenants may or may not be concerned with conserving utilities; if they are not, the property owner will end up spending a great deal of money on the consumption charges as well as repairs and upkeep of the utility-delivering devices (air conditioners, water heaters, and so forth). Not only are the tenants being environmentally unconscious, but the net operating income for this strip mall is less than it could be due to all the utility and maintenance costs.

Now imagine that the property owner installed submeters in each store. The meters keep track of each store’s utility consumption and transmit this information to a centrally-located utility submetering company who calculates the charges. The utility usage of each store is determined and they are sent a bill for their charges. Chances are that once the tenants have to pay more for being wasteful, they will become more aware of their utility usage and will start to conserve more, saving money for themselves and the property owner in the process. Because the utility charges and billing will be handled by the utility submetering company, the property owner gains more time to focus on other issues as well as acquiring a greater net operating income and higher property value.

If submetering is not a feasible option in the above example, a fair Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) can be established instead. A RUBS calculates utility usage based on the size of the commercial space and how many people are occupying and using utilities at that space, then calculates utilities based on pre-set industry-wide standards. Billing is handled by the utility submetering company when using a RUBS, which frees up time and saves money in the same way it does when using submeters.

A submetering system or a RUBS saves money, time, and managerial burden for property owners and forces tenants and employees to be more environmentally responsible. Not everyone will practice the preservation of natural resources but lowering utility costs means stable rents and secure salaries for tenants and employees, something which most people can agree on.

Submetering Part Two: The Landlord’s Perspective

Previously, we discussed the benefits of utility submetering from the perspective of the tenant. This article will briefly examine the benefit of submetering for property owners and managers and how its use can help conserve natural resources, especially when dealing with larger properties.

Submetering is the practice of determining a living unit’s utility usage via individual meters. Submeters are not only beneficial in residential settings it is also successfully used in commercial settings, as well. Utility costs were historically included in the rent which provides little to no incentive to conserve. When tenants pay for what they actually use, they quickly become aware of their utility consumption and will become more careful about wasting water, gas and electricity.

If installing individual submeters is not feasible because a residential building is too old or a commercial building is too large, then a fair Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) may be used instead. A fair RUBS will estimate utility usage based on actual property bills and industry standards for each unique type of residential unit or business.

Judiciously using utilities directly correlates with conserving natural resources which is not only something to feel good about but is necessary for the survival of the planet. But what about saving money? Can submetering really help a property owner increase their net operating income (NOI) and decrease their operating costs?

Absolutely. By requiring your tenants to pay for their own utility usage, they will likely become more aware of their actual usage and will hopefully be more conservative with their utility usage. Once they have a bill in hand that presents them with the utilities being used in their home, it will hopefully make them realize if they are being wasteful or not. If they choose to use utilities more conservatively, there will be less wear-and-tear on utility-delivering devices such as plumbing fixtures, air conditioning units, hot water tanks, and the like. This means that you will not only save money on repairs but you will not have to spend as much time on routine maintenance. And since the utility submetering company will handle all the billing, you will save even more time by having one less thing to worry about. Your NOI will increase, your property values will increase, and you may even get a utility rebate at the end of the year.

If you are building new housing units, submeters can easily be installed in each unit. If you have or are buying an older building, chances are good that the plumbing and electricity can be retrofitted to accept submeters. If not, then a RUBS may be a better option for you. It is clear that submetering can save you money in more ways than one, but an added bonus is that you will be able to advertise your property as being environmentally-friendly. And it will not be hype but a reality, backed by an actual utility submetering company who will help you and your tenants every step of the way.

Submetering Part One: The Tenant’s Perspective

When moving into a multifamily living unit such as an apartment or condominium, one of the queries you will have is how you will be charged for your utilities. Will your rent include some or all of your utilities or will you be billed based on an estimate or actual usage? The most fair way to be charged for your individual utility usage is by using submeters. This article will briefly examine submetering from the perspective of the tenant; we have a second article which outlines submetering from the landlord’s perspective (*link)

Submetering is the practice of determining a single unit’s utility usage via individual meters for that unit. Historically, utilities have been included in the rent, but more and more property owners are choosing to install submeters. When tenants are charged for their actual usage, they tend to be more mindful of how much water, gas, and electricity they use on a daily basis.

The tenant that is being referred to here is not just the person who dwells in a residential community; the tenant may also be a person who operates or works in a commercial building and paying for actual utility usage in this venue has the same benefits as that in residential settings. Submeters can be used in mercantile establishments but if installing individual meters is not feasible, then a fair Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) may be employed instead. A RUBS is a calculation of utility usage that it based on the size, type, and occupancy of the residential or commercial space

Submetering not only saves tenants money but it also helps to conserve natural resources, something that more and more people presently value. If a residential or commercial building is environmentally-conscious and encourages its tenants to adopt the same mentality, this can be a huge selling point in getting people to rent from such locations. And it isn’t just hype: submetering discourages utility wastefulness which does, in turn, save renewable and nonrenewable natural resources.

If helping conserve natural resources and saving money are things that you value, look to rent a newer building that will be more likely to have submeters in use. Older buildings may or may not be using submeters so make sure to inquire about this. Even if you are indifferent to the notion of saving the environment, submetering offers you the best way of saving on your utility bills which means more cash in your pocket!

Submetering Helps Property Owners and Tenants Save and Become More “Green”

People in the United States are beginning to take heed of the reality that the environment is being depleted by the widespread profligate use of natural resources, and it is these resources that are needed to produce the utilities we use every day. The country’s population is ever-increasing and with that comes the need for more and more utilities. Even if renewable resources like wind and sunlight are used to generate power, the environmental impact may be less but people will still have to pay if they choose to waste their utilities. The financial impact will be even greater when people in multifamily living units, such as apartments or condominiums, share utility costs and are not aware of their individual usage.

The combination of natural resource depletion, negative environmental impact, and human selfishness equals a dire situation and one that needs a solution. One way to successfully combat the problem is through submetering. Submetering is a system of utility meters that measure the actual amount of utilities used by a consumer in a residential or commercial setting. It is not a new concept but many people may see it as such since many utilities have been “included” in rents.

When submeters are installed in individual businesses and housing units, tenants become more aware of the amount of water, gas, and electricity they use because they will be paying for their actual use. Submetering is a fair system, as well, because every unit or business pays for what it uses instead of some people paying for the wasteful behavior of others. Less utility usage equals more money saved, higher property value, less improvidence of natural resources, and more environmental responsibility. Being “green” is not something shared by everyone but saving some “green” is something most people strive to do.

It would behoove all property owners to consider submetering for any and all of their buildings. New buildings can easily be customized to accept submeters and most older buildings can be retrofitted to accept submeters, as well. Tenants who wish to pay a fair price for their utilities ought to look for living units or commercial buildings that employ the use of submeters. Utilities are a large part of rent for residential and commercial establishments alike; choosing to live or work in a building that uses submeters is obviously the smart choice.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Submetering: reducing costs to a trickle.

Water submetering is booming. New construction, water shortages, and rising water prices are driving this trend. Besides its environmental value, water submetering makes good business sense. Submetering started in Florida, a state with serious water shortages and a growing population. The movement then migrated north and is now prevalent in many states.

"With submetering, the property management company shifts the burden of water use to the tenants, with the exception of common areas," says Diane Palmer, marketing director, Master Meter, Longview, Texas. Billing water and sewer costs directly helps encourage water conservation, reduces building operating expenses, and allocates costs more fairly.

Submetering also provides an effective way to pinpoint unseen water leakages at properties, says Randy Moss, CPM. He determined that by metering individual units, laundry rooms, pools, and so forth, he could compare actual water use with the total bill and determine if leaks existed. "Today, we find underground leaks in many of the older properties we submeter; often ones that have probably existed for years unnoticed," he says.

Using Less

Submetering companies cite figures that water consumption drops from 25 to 40 percent after residents start paying for water and sewer costs directly. Brian Stone, principal of Multifamily Utility Company Inc. in San Diego, CA, indicates that property management companies and/or owners usually see a payback within 10 months after installation, depending on local rates.

Ross estimates that on an average 200-unit property, with a water bill of $40 per unit, per month, NOI could be increased by $96,000 a year through the installation of a $50,000 water metering system. Of course, Moss notes Nashville does have one of the country's highest water rates. Two hundred miles away in Memphis, savings would be only about $24,000 for the same period.

"The only way you can get people to conserve is to hit them in their pocketbooks," says Ron Swell, in Alpharetta, Ga. "If management companies don't utilize submeters, their water rates are going to go up regularly, and the rents can't keep up."

Moss agrees that residents become more conscious of water use when they pay the bill, but also finds that residents act more promptly in bringing plumbing problems to management's attention. "When residents realize that a faulty toilet clapper can waste as much as 200 gallons of water an hour, they are less likely to ignore it," he notes.