Water Bills

Hey all,

I rent a store from an owner who has split the property into 7 storefronts - however there is only 1 meter he splits the water bill as follows

myself and the chinese restaurant pay 45% each

the nail salon pays 5%

and then the remaining 4 stores split the last 5%

I’m thinking that the nail salon should be paying more of this bill (as pedicures, manicures and the laundry they do for their business on the premises require the use of water)

I’m trying to research my train of thought before I go in swinging anyone who could share this info I’d really appreciate it

I am in NY state and I have 19 chairs (not a very large store at all) and we’re busy but we’re not that busy


You could try contacting the water company and say you are looking into opening a nail salon and would like to know if they can give you a budget amount for what the typical salon would use.

You could install a private water meter on your incoming line so that you know what you use, and then use that information to educate your landlord, and possibly lower your bill.

That’s what I would do. Take a walk over to the Chinese restaurant and have a gander at the wok cook area. Most have constantly running water. You are getting screwed.

Triple Net is typically based on square footage and your percentage of the space in the entire building would determine your percentage of the bill. It would be stipulated in your lease. I would start there to determine if you have a contention.


Triple net only applies to insurance, taxes, and common area maintenance. Not utilities. The utilities are also separate but not part of NNN.

Your landlord should have no problem with putting in your own meter if you are willing to pay for it. The reason they put in a meter for the entire property here is, besides cost, that the water bill follows the property. In other words, if you do not pay it, the landlord gets the lien and then has to come after you. That is what I understand anyway. Cost plays a big part of it though. If each tenant wanted a meter, they would each get one at the curb and then the property as a whole would need on (for sprinklers, etc). Just much easier to have one main.

But if you can get to the supply for your specific place, you could install a meter to gauge your use. I would get some agreement from the landlord first that they will consider the results. Otherwise, you may just be wasting your money.

What does water cost you? Ours will run about $3.00 per 1,000 gallons with another $2.00 per $1,000 for sewage.

Dewar, actually “Triple Net” is just a concept and can include anything the landlord and the tenants agree to include…If there is a meeting of the minds, utilities, co-op advertising, exterior signage, etc. can all form part of the lease and be shared between tenants on what ever basis they all agree…

We have a salon in our center and they use just slightly less water than us, so I think you’re probably getting overcharged.

The most important thing is what your lease says. How does it say the water bill will be split? Your landlord has a procedure for splitting it, but is it in writing somewhere?

Our building has one utility water meter, and then we each have our own private meters. The landlord reads those once per month and we all pay based on the percentage we used. Seems that would be the best option for your building.

All water used for irrigation or from the hose bibs is paid on our CAM bill, so it’s split based on square footage.

If your building has sprinklers used for irrigation, you’re defintely getting hosed (pun intended!) paying for 45% of the water bill

The lease can specify whatever utilities sharing you want, but the original “triple net” was rent net of insurance, taxes, and common area maintenance. Utilities can be included in some sort of sharing, but I stand by my understanding of the definition of “triple net”. If you use the term, the other party is not going to assume that utilities are included.

Yes that was the orignal meaning of the term, however, in the absense of a “definition” in the actual lease, it is subject to interpretation…And sometimes the judge will see your way and some times the other way…so best to get every little detail in writing…I have seen commercial leases 100s of pages long…I guess those are the better safe than sorry leases…

Sure, everything is subject to interpretation and that is why you have a contract where the terms are defined. Not to beat this dead horse, but “triple net” still has a widely recognized meaning and should not be purported to include anything other than insurance, taxes, and common area maintenance.

Actually, common area “expenses” is more usual than common area “maintainance”. It often includes things like trash removal, water, landscaping, snow removal, property management, security services… There is quite a bit of difference between single tenant buildings and multi tenant.

Common water metering is also very widespread.

If you can not get the LL to take another look with supporting information like that suggested above, I would suggest going with the water meter idea. But tell the LL you are doing it before you do and that you will expect the bill to be adjusted to the actual amount your meter shows.

Well, heck. If Steve says it is so, it must be. Dang. Well, I was taught differently. They just call it CAM here, but maybe it has evolved. I know the idea is to separate all the variable expenses out and put them on the tenant so that the landlord can value the property for investors as a simple capital item.

It is called CAM and you are right about the origin of the term. Lots of poorly written leases are overly vague about the issue as well, but in the end you have it right, the purpose is to pass along expenses so the LL has a defined rate of return.

I can’t remember that I have ever seen a lease for a multi tenant building that did not include more than maintainance.