G.C. from Franklin County, Ohio writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We have 4 units per building. There is one water meter per building. One building has water bills twice the average. The managements company splits the bill 4 ways and bills owners quarterly. Everything has been checked on this building – plumbing, leak detection, water meter – and no problems detected. No one in the building has owned up to high water usage. Two unit owners are elderly, one is unoccupied. Putting in separate meters is prohibitively expensive.
Questions: How do other associations handle this problem? Is there a meter of some kind that can be added that is not an “official” meter, and therefore less expensive to install? If one or both elderly residents is on a fixed income, and has to take multiple baths per day for health reasons, is there any kind of assistance available for them in Ohio? Maybe they would come forward and own up to their usage, and agree to pay a larger portion of the water bill if they had some assistance in that regard.
Mister Condo replies:
G.C., I feel your pain. Unless your association decided to pay for submetering of utilities, I don’t see how you could possible manage this problem of some unit owners getting more than others. Shop around for submetering companies that can provide a sensible solution. My guess is that the submetering would pay for itself in just a few years. Regardless of cost, the association may need to rewrite its governing documents to acknowledge the submetering, especially if the cost of water was previously paid for by the association. Other than that, it is a cost of doing business as an association. You can encourage conservation and stewardship but the reality is that if it is included in their common fees, convincing unit owners to use less water is challenging to say the least. I am unaware of any programs that offer to pay for water usage for unit owners. Investigate submetering and see if it is right for your community. All the best!