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What Utilities Are Included in Rent? An Easy Guide [2024]

When thinking about where your money will be going every month, rent comes to mind first, followed closely by utility bills. Depending on your appliances and usage, utility bills can add up quickly. Moreover, if you're living with roommates, you might want to know about utilities in advance so you can devise an equitable way to split them.

Whatever your situation, before you sign a lease, be sure you know what you’re paying for. Below outlines who is responsible for paying what utilities in an apartment rental.

What Utilities Are Included in Rent?

In most apartments, you will be responsible for paying electricity, gas, and internet/cable bills, while landlords will typically cover the water, sewage and garbage. The cost of this is either lumped into your monthly rent or included as a separate charge in your monthly rental statement. If you are looking for an apartment that has all utilities covered, the costs are likely also included in your rent or rental statement.

The most common utilities that you will find in your apartment include electricity, gas, internet/cable, water, sewage and garbage. What utilities you are responsible for is generally a matter of your lease agreement. It’s best to ask questions about utilities when touring an apartment, and make sure to read the lease details thoroughly.

What Utilities Are Included in Rent

Advantages When Utilities are Included in Rent

There are some major pros when your utility costs are baked into your rent. Let’s start with roommates.

It's Easy to Split Bills with Roommates

Including utility costs in your rent eliminates the need to split up the costs. There’s also no squabbling over who used up more hot water that month.

When utilities are included in your rent, they usually include the basics like electricity, gas, and water. While extras like cable usually aren’t usually included in your utilities, some apartments do offer wifi services. Ask your property manager and study your lease before you sign.

Here are some other pros of including the utilities in your rent.

You Don’t Need to Make Additional Payments

Your monthly utility bills and rent are typically paid at different times of the month. It can take some organization to stay on top of due dates; otherwise, you could incur late fees. Instead of paying your rent, electricity, gas, and everything else on your list, you can make one flat payment with your rent. You never have to worry about forgetting to pay a bill.

Pros of Having Utilities Included in Monthly Rent

You Won’t Have to Deal with Paperwork

Setting up your own utilities is an exercise in responsibility. You’ll need to schedule turning on your service, undergo a credit check, fill out paperwork, and take time off work to allow technicians to come into your apartment. When everything is already included in your rent, your utilities are already on when you move in. All you need to do is pay your rent on time and forget about the rest.

You Won’t Have to Worry about Going Over Budget

It can be challenging to figure out your budget when you’re factoring in fluctuating costs, though including utilities in your rent is a big win if you want to follow a reliable budget. You don’t have to worry about financial fluctuations or setting aside extra money during inclement weather when your electric bill might spike.

Once you know what you’re paying in rent and included utilities, you may find you can afford a nicer apartment than you realized. Of course, you may decide you need to find a move-in special or live a little outside your dream neighborhood.

Disadvantages when Utilities are Included in Rent

Despite all of the pros of rent included in your utilities, there are some downsides. For starters, you may end up paying connection fees to get your service up and running. Here are a few potential issues to consider before signing your next lease.

You Might End Up Paying More

When your apartment utilities are included in your rent, it’s hard to tell what you are paying for. Your landlord controls the bills and utilities, and tenants have no choice but to trust they’re paying a fair price for those services.

Many utility companies offer deals on new services or when switching over from a competitor. Instead of taking advantage of those cost savings, you’re likely paying a higher rate on gas for your stove or hot water heater than you would otherwise. When you pay your utilities yourself, you have more control over finding the best deal and lowering your monthly costs.

You Might Not Be Able to Control Your Thermostat

If you naturally run hot or are chilly all the time, you may feel frustrated when you don’t control your utilities. When you don’t pay your utilities, the property manager can set the thermostat and heat to whatever they want. You may also find the water isn’t as hot as you like or that the heat isn’t set to your preferences.

Cons of Having Utilities Included in Monthly Rent

How Much Do Utilities Cost on Average?

According to Apartment List data taken from 2021 Census collection, the average monthly cost of utilities in the U.S. is $253.14, which includes electricity, gas/fuel, and water. Heating will take up the majority of your budget, followed by cooling and water heating. However, your utility bills will vary depending on what area of the country you live in and whether or not you live in a city or somewhere more suburban.

If you need more details on what you can expect, check out our helpful guide on utility costs, which breaks down averages by city, state, and number of bedrooms.

How Do I Pay Utilities?

If you haven’t paid utility bills before, it’s a pretty simple process. Nowadays, most utility providers will allow you to pay online. Some have options to autopay, which further simplifies the process. The contact information and your utility providers will likely be outlined in the lease agreement, or in paperwork sent to you by your landlord after applying. If not, ask your landlord for this information.

To sign up, get in contact with the providers a few weeks before you move in, usually online or by phone. You will usually be required by your lease to make sure that your power and/or gas is turned on by your move in date. We also have a guide on transferring utilities from one address to another if you're able to use the same companies in your new place.

When Will I Pay for the Utilities?

When your utilities are included in your rent, you’ll pay one bill to your landlord or property manager every month. Rent is usually due on the first of the month, although some landlords may set it to the 15th of the month.

Setting up utilities in your name means all of the bills go directly to you. Some utility providers may allow you to set the date that you pay your bills. It’s essential to pay your utility bills on time and stay in touch with your service providers if you have any financial issues. Otherwise, your utilities could get shut off, forcing you to pay costly reconnection fees and fines to sort it out.

How Do I Split Bills With Roommates?

Moving in with a few roommates, and not sure how you’re going to split up the utility bills? There are a few lines of thinking: split them evenly,  based on income, or based on the size of your room. Have an open discussion about how to pay before the first month’s wave of bills hits. Determine one tenant to handle all of the bills, as it makes it easier for everyone. You’ll likely have to sign up for a few different online accounts, so make it simpler by having one person behind each account. Use finance apps like Venmo or Cash App to easily split bills between roommates.

It’s a bit stressful getting your utility bills set up for the first time. Once you have all of your services up and running and payment processes figured out, it’ll become second nature to you.

Find Your Dream Apartment

Whether you're looking for apartments with utilities included or are just wanting to find the perfect place in the right location, take our helpful quiz to get matched with your perfect apartment.

FAQs for Utilities Included in Rent

Do Landlords Have to Pay for Water?

There are many places where water companies hold the property owner responsible for paying the water bill, such as in Cincinnati. In those cases, your landlord is technically responsible for paying water. However, that does not mean your landlord can't bill you for usage. Even if your landlord is required to pay the bill directly, the cost of water will still be included as part of your monthly rent.

Can a Landlord Charge for Water and Sewage?

Yes -- even if the landlord is required to pay for these bills directly because they are the property owner, they are allowed to pass the cost of water and sewage onto tenants in their monthly rent statement.

Is Heating Included in Rent?

Heating is usually part of an electric or gas bill, depending on how heating works in your building. If you are responsible for electricity or gas, then you will be the one paying for heating. Heating will generally only be included in rent if your gas and/or electric bill is as well.

Are Utilities Regulated?

Utilities are generally regulated at the state level, usually by an office that focuses solely on public utilities, such as the Department of Public Service in New York.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
CONTENT EDITOR
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Tristian Brown
SENIOR CONTENT ASSOCIATE
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More
Justin Chaplin
AUTHOR
Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
Davina Ward
DAVINA WARD
Davina G. Ward is an esteemed journalist and expert on the apartment rental market. Read More

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