Washington Submetering Laws

Washington allows landlords and property managers to install submetering systems and bill residents for individualized utility usage.

Residential water, wastewater, electric and gas submetering, as well as RUBS billing, are all allowed in Washington. The state’s main restriction is that residents not be billed more than the actual cost to the property. Administrative fees are also restricted or not allowed at all, depending on the city or municipality.

Seattle, the largest city in Washington, offers a full section on third-party utility billing in its Municipal Code. It explicitly prohibits:

  • Deceptive and fraudulent business practices, including retaining a utility billing company that doesn’t adhere to the code
  • Disclosing most personally identifiable information to a billing company
  • Third-party billing firms reporting claims to credit reporting agencies, except in certain circumstances

The Seattle code mandates:

  • Ninety days’ notice of submetering adoption for tenants
  • “Conspicuous” public display of notice, methodology and common area utilities charged to tenants
  • Service charge of no more than $2 per utility per month, not to exceed cumulative service charges of $5 per month
  • Late payment charges of no more than $5 per month plus interest at a rate not to exceed one percent per month

If you plan on submetering a multifamily property in Seattle, the entirety of Chapter 7.25 is worth reading.

Other cities and municipalities have their own regulations for utility billing and submetering.

If you have questions about submetering or RUBS in Washington, contact us for information about your specific situation.

Starting Submetering in Washington

It’s easy to implement submetering at multifamily buildings and other property types in Washington. It’s typically best to contact a utility billing and consulting firm like Synergy to ensure 100% compliance and effectiveness.

Submeters, with individual meters for each unit, can be used in existing buildings or new construction in Washington. RUBS billing, which divides utility costs according to an industry-accepted formula, is also possible, though not for electricity.

Steps to Implement Submetering in Washington

Implementing submetering and outsourcing multifamily utility billing is a surprisingly quick process.

Utility submetering and outsourced utility billing in Washington can be implemented in as little as a few weeks, at no net cost to the property owner or manager.