What Utilities Are Included in Rent?

May 31st 2024
In general, utilities are not included in rent. However, in some cases, utilities such as water, cable, internet bills, and trash collection may be included in the rent.

When budgeting for a new apartment, it’s essential to consider your monthly expenses. While rent will be your largest expense, you shouldn’t forget about utility bills. Utilities for properties include garbage, electricity, gas, internet, cable, water and sewer, and security.

hash-markTable of Contents

Does Rent Include Utilities?
What Utilities Do Landlords Pay For?
Aren't Landlords Required to Pay for Heat and Hot Water?
What Utilities Do Tenants Pay?
Can You Negotiate Who Pays Utilities With Your Landlord?
Is It Worth Lumping All Utilities Into the Rent?
How Do You Pay For Utilities?
Splitting Utilities With Roommates
Utilities and Rent Bottom Line

hash-markDoes Rent Include Utilities?

In general, rent will not include all of your utilities, and you should plan and budget accordingly. While your landlord might cover a few utility bills, such as sewer, garbage pickup, and water, tenants will almost certainly be on the hook for the majority of utilities. The most expensive utility bills, like gas and electricity, are typically the tenant's responsibility. 

Here’s what you need to know about who pays for what. 

hash-markWhat Utilities Do Landlords Pay For?

  • Trash collection
  • Water (most of the time)

With most rental homes and apartments, your landlord will pay for trash collection. Water is also commonly included in your rent payments, meaning that your landlord will cover the water bill. 

Sometimes, if you’re renting in a large residential apartment complex, your landlord may also pay for cable or internet through a specific provider. 

If the landlord is renting out a furnished apartment or a short-term vacation rental, they may prefer to pay for all the utilities. Essentially, they’ll estimate the cost of utilities and price them into the monthly rent to ensure it covers them.  

hash-markAren't Landlords Required to Pay for Heat and Hot Water?

No, landlords are not required to pay for heat or hot water. The reality is that in many cities and states, there is a warranty of habitability that requires landlords to provide access to heat and hot water, but that doesn’t mean they’re required to pay the utility bills. In most cases, tenants will cover the heating bill, while either the tenant or the landlord may be responsible for the water bill.

hash-markWhat Utilities Do Tenants Pay?

  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Cable
  • Internet
  • Water (sometimes)

When it comes to the utilities you’ll be responsible for, you can expect to pay for electricity, gas, cable, and internet. Tenants are also responsible for paying for home security systems if they install them. As a tenant, it will be your responsibility to transfer or set up the utilities in your name so that you can make monthly payments. 

In some cases, tenants will also be responsible for the water bill. If the lease stipulates that the tenant will cover water, the landlord will often keep the water in their name and bill the tenant separately. This is because it’s important to have water flowing through the pipes to prevent them from freezing during the winter.  

hash-markCan You Negotiate Who Pays Utilities With Your Landlord?

Yes, almost every aspect of a lease is negotiable, so you can certainly ask a landlord to cover specific utility bills. That being said, it’s usually a bad idea to try to negotiate utilities, especially electricity. Landlords generally prefer to have fixed expenses that are predictable, so you will probably be better off trying to get a rent discount than having your landlord pay for more utilities.

Make sure you know how to set up utilities for your apartment before you move in so that you won't be without electricity, internet, or other necessities when your lease starts. 

hash-markIs It Worth Lumping All Utilities Into the Rent?

No, it’s a bad idea because most landlords will overestimate your utility usage, meaning you’ll end up paying for more than what you’ll likely end up using. While bundling apartment utilities into the rent may be convenient, it’s better to pay them separately.

If you still prefer to bundle utilities into the rent, you should take a look at the average cost of utilities in your area. By doing this, you can get a better idea of how much of a rent adjustment is fair.

hash-markHow Do You Pay For Utilities?

Paying your utility bills is relatively easy. The process starts right after you sign a lease, with getting utilities set up or switched over to your name. Your landlord will be able to provide you with the contact information for each utility company. Once you’ve set the utilities up, you’ll be able to pay online. Most companies will also offer autopay options, which can make your life even easier. 

One important thing to remember is to contact the utility providers before you move to make sure you have access to electricity, cable, and internet once you move in. In particular, cable and internet providers need to be booked in advance. 

hash-markSplitting Utilities With Roommates

While living with roommates is a great way to save money, it creates some logistical headaches when handling bills, as you typically can’t put all the roommates on the utility bill. This means that the primary leaseholder will have more responsibility and be on the hook if one roommate decides not to pay. 

The best way to split utilities with roommates is by splitting the costs evenly. Other approaches include splitting them based on each roommate’s income. Whatever you choose, be sure to include details in your roommate agreement. Additionally, if you’re worried about a roommate skipping out on some rent or utilities, you can always ask them to put down an additional security deposit for utility bills. 

hash-markUtilities and Rent Bottom Line

While your monthly rent might include some utilities, you will likely need to set up and pay other utility bills yourself. Utilities that are billed at a fixed rate are more likely to be included in your rent, while those based on your consumption will typically be your responsibility. Even though it may be convenient to include all your utilities in your rent, it’s smarter to pay them separately to avoid being overcharged by your landlord. If you're not sure what utilities are included with your rent you can review your lease to see who is responsible for utilities.