The Definitive Guide to Multifamily Utility Recovery for Investors

As multifamily investors, it’s crucial to consider the optimization of utilities in your properties. You can maximize income and reduce expenses by implementing effective utility recovery strategies, ultimately enhancing your investment returns. 

The various strategies, including submetering, Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS), utility benchmarking, convergent billing, and vacant cost recovery, can help you make more informed decisions to save money on your bottom line.

Submetering: Accurate Billing and Energy Conservation

Submetering is a highly effective approach to charge residents for utility usage accurately. Installing submeters for major utilities such as gas, water, and electricity allows you to track each unit’s usage and ensure accurate billing. This not only holds residents accountable but also promotes energy and water conservation. 

While submetering may involve a cost, obtaining quotes from local installation firms will help you determine its feasibility and return on investment.

Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS): Cost-Effective Utility Recovery

If submetering exceeds your budget, RUBS offers a cost-effective alternative. With RUBS, utilities are allocated to residents based on unit size, number of bathrooms, and occupants. It enables you to invoice residents for their fair share of electricity, gas, water, sewer, and trash expenses. 

Industry associations recommend RUBS and provide an opportunity to reduce overall utility use by 5%-40%. Implementing RUBS typically involves no upfront costs and can be seamlessly integrated into monthly utility bills.

Utility Benchmarking: Tracking Usage for Efficiency and Sustainability

Utility benchmarking involves analyzing and comparing a property’s utility use over time. This process helps identify areas for reducing utility consumption and improving efficiency. Benchmarking can lead to cost savings, error detection in billing, equipment maintenance, and qualification for green financing programs. 

While not mandatory in all areas, it is increasingly required for larger properties or as part of green initiatives. Engaging in utility benchmarking demonstrates a commitment to sustainable practices and responsible resource management.

Convergent Billing: Streamlining Payments for Tenant Satisfaction

Convergent billing simplifies the payment process for residents, particularly in older properties with multiple separate bills. By consolidating all bills, including rent and utilities, into a single statement, tenants find it easier to manage their expenses. 

This approach improves payment compliance and reduces the likelihood of missed payments. Residents appreciate the convenience of an organized bill and are more likely to fulfill their financial obligations promptly.

Vacant Cost Recovery: Reclaiming Unpaid Utility Expenses

Unpaid utility bills from residents can significantly impact property expenses. With vacant cost recovery, you can analyze utility use and billing history to charge responsible tenants for their previously unpaid usage. 

This process, also known as Vacant Unit Cost Recovery (VUCR) or Vacant Cost Recovery (VCR), can lead to substantial savings, especially in larger properties. You can protect your bottom line and optimize revenue by recovering unpaid utility expenses.

Key Considerations for Multifamily Utility Recovery

When deciding on utility recovery methods, several factors deserve careful consideration:

Budget: Evaluate the costs and potential return on investment for submetering or RUBS.

Regulations: Familiarize yourself with local regulations governing utility recovery, billing fees, and submetering.

Resident Impact: Assess the impact on residents and their acceptance of billing changes.

Sustainability: Embrace utility optimization to conserve resources and reduce environmental impact.

Partner Selection: Work with a trusted utility billing partner who can provide financial assessments, installation expertise, and responsive customer service.


Implementing effective utility recovery strategies is crucial for multifamily investors to optimize financial performance and enhance returns. Methods such as submetering, RUBS, utility benchmarking, convergent billing, and vacant cost recovery offer ways to maximize income, reduce expenses, promote conservation, simplify payments, and recoup unpaid expenses. 

Factors to consider include budget, regulations, resident impact, sustainability goals, and selecting a reliable utility billing partner. These strategies are proactive approaches to maximize ROI, lower operating costs, attract environmentally conscious tenants, and enhance property value in the multifamily investment sector.


What is the importance of utility recovery for multifamily investors?

Utility recovery is essential for multifamily investors as it allows them to optimize their property’s financial performance. Investors can recoup expenses and increase their net operating income by accurately tracking and billing tenants for their utility usage. 

Utility recovery methods also incentivize tenants to conserve resources, leading to reduced overall utility consumption and a more sustainable operation.

How does submetering help in accurately charging tenants for utility usage?

These meters track the exact usage of utilities such as gas, water, and electricity for each tenant. 

By having precise data on consumption, landlords can accurately bill residents based on their usage. Submetering encourages accountability, reduces disputes, and promotes energy conservation among tenants.

What are the benefits of implementing a Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS)?

RUBS enables property owners to distribute utility costs fairly without needing individual meters. 

It encourages tenants to be mindful of their energy and water consumption, leading to potential savings and reduced environmental impact. RUBS can be implemented without upfront costs and seamlessly integrated into monthly utility bills.

How does utility benchmarking assist in reducing utility usage and identifying inefficiencies?

By tracking and evaluating consumption patterns, property owners can identify areas of inefficiency and implement targeted strategies to reduce utility usage. Benchmarking also helps detect billing errors, locate malfunctioning equipment, and qualify for green financing programs. It provides valuable insights to improve energy efficiency and reduce utility expenses.

How can convergent billing simplify tenant payment processes?

Convergent billing streamlines the payment process for tenants by consolidating all bills, including rent and utilities, into a single statement. Convergent billing increases payment compliance, reduces the chances of missed payments, and improves tenant satisfaction by simplifying financial management.

How does vacant cost recovery help recover unpaid utility expenses from residents?

Vacant cost recovery helps recoup the costs incurred when tenants fail to pay their utility bills, ensuring that the property does not bear the burden of unpaid expenses. Vacant cost recovery can significantly impact the bottom line, especially in larger multifamily properties.

What factors should multifamily investors consider when deciding on utility recovery methods?

Multifamily investors should consider their budget, local regulations governing utility recovery, resident impact and acceptance, sustainability goals, and a reliable utility billing partner. 

Are there any incentives or rebates available for utility recovery initiatives?

Incentives and rebates for utility recovery initiatives may vary depending on the location and specific programs available. Researching local utility companies, government agencies, and green financing programs is advisable to identify potential incentives or rebates for submetering, energy-efficient upgrades, or sustainable initiatives. 

How can utility optimization strategies contribute to an investor’s return on investment (ROI)?

By accurately recovering utility expenses, reducing consumption through tenant accountability, and identifying efficiency improvements, investors can lower operating costs, increase net operating income, attract environmentally conscious tenants, and enhance the overall value of their multifamily properties. Implementing effective utility optimization strategies is a proactive approach to maximizing ROI in the multifamily investment sector.

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