Certain multi-family property owners may bill residents for water and sewer services

Under North Carolina law, and subject to approval by the NC Utilities Commission, multi-family property owners that meet certain requirements may bill residents for the cost of water and sewer service from OWASA.

How multi-family properties receive OWASA water and sewer services

Owners of multi-family developments typically bill residents for water and sewer charges in one of two ways:

  • Properties may receive service through one or a small number of “master” meters that serve the entire property. Property owners receive a bill from OWASA. The cost of water and sewer service is either included in the residents’ rent or is sub-metered by the property owner and rebilled to the tenant.
  • In other properties, each residential unit may be served by an OWASA meter. In these cases, each unit’s water use is measured and each resident receives a bill from OWASA.

Master-meter arrangements (number 1) are more common in Carrboro-Chapel Hill.

Similarly, many commercial and office developments are served through master-meters instead of individual meters for each tenant/business.

Third-party “submetering”and rebilling

In accord with State law, and with approval of the NC Utilities Commission, owners of multi-family developments with master-meters may install private meters, or “submeters,” to measure water and sewer use and bill each residence for these services. This is an increasing trend in our community and others.

  • Under the Utilities Commission’s rules at http://www.ncuc.net/ncrules/Chapter18.pdf, the property owner can pass through the per unit share of OWASA’s fixed monthly charges plus charges based on the volume of water and sewer service used. An administrative fee of up to $3.75 per dwelling unit may be added to cover the costs of submeter reading, billing, and collection.
  • In some multi-family developments, the private submeters measure only hot water use, and water/sewer volume charges are therefore allocated
    based on hot water use.
  • OWASA has no authority over the rates set by the Utilities Commission.
  • The Utilities Commission’s rules for water companies are available here:

For more information:

Contact the NC Utilities Commission Water/Sewer Division

(919) 733-5610