What Does Utilities Included Mean When Renting?

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated March 1, 2022
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Photo: Moment / Getty Images

Highlights

  • The meaning of “utilities included” can vary, depending on the landlord and the property.

  • Rent that includes utilities can help stabilize your budget.

  • Rent with included utilities is generally more expensive than comparable properties without included utilities.

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So, you’re searching for a new rental home and found a unit that lists “utilities included.” But what exactly does that mean, and how will it impact your rental rate? 

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. If you’re renting a house or apartment and need clarification on how included utilities work, keep reading for a breakdown of what the phrase does and doesn’t mean.  

The Utilities Included Breakdown 

Renters who read “utilities included” or “all bills paid” in a rental listing are understandably intrigued by the ease of a one-and-done monthly payment. This phrase means that your landlord or property management will handle the payments to the utility companies, and the cost is included in your monthly rent. It’s pretty tempting to make one payment per month to one person—no fuss and zero deposits needed to open new utility accounts. 

However, renters may not realize that a utilities-included apartment, single-family home, or duplex house lease is subjective to what the landlord includes. For example, some property managers may cover the monthly water bills, but not electricity or gas payments. In some cases, landlords will only cover utilities up to a certain amount or cost.

Traditionally, landlords can choose to include these essential utilities in the rent payment:

  • Electricity

  • Gas

  • Water

  • Trash

  • Sewer

They may or may not include:

  • Internet

  • Cable

  • Lawn care

Why Are Utilities Included in Some Rental Rates?

For many landlords and property managers, utilities-included rent is convenient and saves on overall expenses. For example, it’s difficult and expensive to outfit each apartment in a complex with its own utilities compared to using a common bank for all tenants. The same is true for a single-family house converted into separate apartments. 

If you’re interested in a utilities-included arrangement, read the agreement thoroughly and discuss the included utilities and the utilities not included with your landlord or property manager. 

The Pros and Cons of Utilities Included 

At first glance, utilities included with your rent sounds like a great deal, and that’s true for some renters. However, this rental feature will affect how much you pay each month to live there. 

Pros of Utilities Included

Here are some pros of utilities-included rent to look forward to:

  • Consistent utility costs

  • Easy to budget for your monthly rent payments

  • No new utility account deposits, transfer fees, or late payment charges

  • No credit checks to open utility accounts

  • Control over your home’s thermostat 

Cons of Utilities Included

Paying for utilities in your rent isn’t for everyone, especially if you have a strict budget. Take a look at a few reasons you might pass on an inclusive rent payment.  

  • Utilities-included properties are typically more expensive than comparable properties.

  • Your utilities could be capped to a certain percentage or amount each month. 

  • You could pay overage fees for using more than the estimated utilities. 

  • You might consume less than your neighbors but pay the same amount. 

  • The landlord may control which days the heat and air conditioning kick on seasonally. 

  • You won’t build your credit by making direct payments to your landlord. 

  • It’s harder to find utilities-included properties. 

What to Do If Your Shared Utilities Shut Off 

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Photo: DigitalVision / Getty Images

If you live in a rental home with utilities included, any snafu with service becomes a tag-team effort to correct. First, let your landlord know there’s an issue, and if it’s an easy fix, ask them to handle it online or over the phone. Then, keep them updated about the solution’s progress. If it’s a more serious outage, your landlord or building management will need to hire someone to inspect and resolve the issue.

Get familiar with your state's tenant laws and rights if you’re worried about your landlord shutting down your services. In most cases, the state requires your landlord to give notice about a future shut-off date. 

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