All-inclusive rentals are an ideal, hassle-free option for student renters. Students don’t often have much experience setting up utility services and managing several bills all on different payment cycles. For this reason, all-inclusive rentals provide students with the ease of simply paying one monthly fee at the start of each month. All-inclusive rentals are attractive and convenient for students; therefore, a great feature to advertise!
However, utility costs are rising and can be expensive when paired with high consumption times and rates. For landlords who choose the all-inclusive option, we’ve provided some valuable tips to keep costs low and profit margins high.
1. Utility Caps
Unfortunately, some tenants aren’t mindful of utility consumption; especially if they aren’t financially responsible or simply aren’t aware of how expensive utilities can be. It’s a frustrating experience for landlords to receive abnormally high utility bills, without a reasonable explanation from tenants. For this reason, some landlords have implemented what is known as a utility cap in their lease agreements.
A utility cap essentially specifies the limits of ‘all-inclusive’. If tenants exceed the agreed upon cap rates, they are responsible for paying the difference. A utility cap is a specific dollar value assigned for a single billing period. It is written directly into the lease agreement for tenants to sign and avoids a dispute regarding utility overages. Utility caps assist tenants in being more cost-conscious, especially after having to pay the utility differences.
2. Prohibiting Use of Non-Essential, High Energy Consumption Appliances
Some tenants will bring non-energy efficient appliances, such as space heaters or portable air conditioners, into rental units. This can result in significantly higher utility bills for the landlord, if an all-inclusive lease agreement was signed without provisions prohibiting the use of these appliances.
A common occurrence is where multiple tenants have different heat preferences, with at least one tenant finding it too cold in the winter months. A tenant’s solution may be to use a portable space heater in the bedroom, while unaware of the costs of running it for an extended period. In this situation, it’s well within a landlord’s right to add a provision to the lease agreement prohibiting the use of space heaters.
Landlords may also prohibit the use of similar appliances like window air-conditioning units, if the house is equipped with central air or another cooling system.
3. Minor Household Energy-Efficient Upgrades
Landlords have many resources available to them for savings over time. Below are some easy and cost-efficient upgrades to consider:
Weather-stripping for Doors and Windows: This is a very easy fix for drafty doors and windows affecting heating and cooling bills. Weather-stripping seals air leaks, especially in homes with older windows or doors. There are many useful online guides on weather-stripping and the types to use.
LED Lighting: You might not save $11,000 over 20 years like this B.C. man, but LED lights will certainly help save hundreds of dollars over a few years time. Replacing current lights with LED lights is a great investment and takes little-to-no-time.
Programmable and Non-Tamper Thermostats: Changing the temperature of a rental unit by a few degrees Fahrenheit can have a substantial impact on heating and cooling bills. Programmable and non-tamper thermostats are ideal for rental units to help mitigate costs and moderate the temperature. Pro-thermostats highlight some of the cost benefits of using tamper-proof thermostats here.
Regularly Change the Furnace Filter: It’s easy to forget to change the furnace filter, but this small mistake can make it more difficult for the HVAC system to run efficiently. While the lifespan of furnace filters vary, according to different makes and models, it’s fairly common to hear most should be changed every 90 days.
Install Low Flow Fixtures and Aerators: To cut down on water consumption, landlords can install various low flow fixtures at reasonable cost. They can result in water savings up to 60%.
4. Coin-Operated Laundry Machines or Designated Laundry Times
Rental units equipped with washer and dryer machines generally see higher energy consumption, especially with multiple tenants. For this reason, many all-inclusive landlords resort to one of the following options:
Coin-Operated Laundry: This is a highly favored option in student housing. Each load in the washer and dryer will cost a set amount. It’s relatively inexpensive to implement, by either purchasing second-hand coin-operated machines or getting a coin system installed on existing appliances.
Designated Laundry Times: Some landlords grant free laundry usage. But to decrease their costs, landlords may designate specific timeframes to use the appliances, in order to limit frequency, as well as take advantage of off-peak electricity hours.
5. Replace Old Appliances:
Although this option can be the most expensive upfront, in some cases, the savings of replacing old appliances can pay for themselves within a few years time.
Not all old appliance replacements will translate into savings though. To help distinguish between them, Lifehacker provides a list of old appliances to replace and those that resulted in the greatest savings. The main culprits were old water heaters, refrigerators and washing machines. Old toilets with bowls that hold more water than newer ones use more water and should also be replaced.
SEE ALSO: 3 Student Housing Amenities That Promise ROI
The Places4Students.com Team