Do Tenants Pay Sewer Bills? A Detailed Look At Who’S Responsible

Sewer bills are an unavoidable part of being a homeowner, but what about renters? If you’re a tenant wondering whether you’re on the hook for sewer bills or if that’s the landlord’s responsibility, you’re not alone. Many renters are unsure who foots the sewer bill.

Luckily, we’re here to provide a detailed look at whether tenants pay sewer bills.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: in most cases, sewer bills are the responsibility of the property owner or landlord, not the tenant. There are some exceptions like if a tenant has a separate meter or sewer charges are itemized in the lease, but generally sewer bills fall on the landlord.

Background on Sewer Bills

Sewer bills are an important aspect of renting a property, and it is essential for both landlords and tenants to understand who is responsible for paying them. Sewer bills are fees charged by the local government or utility company to cover the cost of maintaining and operating the sewer system.

These bills are separate from other utility bills such as water, electricity, and gas.

What Sewer Bills Cover

Sewer bills typically cover the cost of treating and disposing of wastewater, as well as maintaining the sewer infrastructure. This includes tasks such as repairing sewer lines, ensuring proper drainage, and keeping the system in good working condition.

The funds collected from sewer bills are used to ensure the proper functioning of the sewer system and to protect public health and the environment.

How Sewer Bills Are Calculated

The calculation of sewer bills can vary depending on the location and the specific billing system in place. In some areas, sewer bills are based on water usage. The logic behind this is that the more water a property uses, the more wastewater it generates.

Therefore, the sewer bill is calculated as a percentage of the water bill. In other areas, sewer bills may be calculated based on a fixed fee per property or even a combination of fixed fees and water usage.

It is worth noting that not all properties are billed for sewer services in the same way. For example, in some cases, multifamily properties may have a single sewer bill that is divided among the tenants based on factors such as the number of units or the size of each unit.

This ensures that each tenant contributes fairly to the cost of sewer services.

Who Receives the Sewer Bill

In most cases, the sewer bill is sent directly to the property owner or landlord. The responsibility for paying the bill ultimately falls on the property owner. However, it is common for landlords to include the cost of sewer services as part of the tenant’s monthly rent.

This means that tenants indirectly pay for sewer services through their rent payments.

It is important for tenants to clarify with their landlords whether sewer services are included in their rent or if they are responsible for paying the sewer bill separately. This information should be clearly outlined in the lease agreement.

If there is any confusion or uncertainty, tenants should reach out to their landlords for clarification.

For more information on sewer bills and who is responsible for paying them, you can visit

Landlord Responsibilities

When it comes to sewer bills, the responsibility typically falls on the landlord. In most cases, tenants are not responsible for paying sewer bills directly. This is because the sewer bill is considered a part of the landlord’s overall responsibility for maintaining the property.

Sewer Bills Default to the Landlord

As a landlord, it is important to understand that sewer bills default to you unless otherwise specified in the lease agreement. This means that you are responsible for ensuring that the sewer bill is paid on time and in full.

Failure to do so could result in penalties or even a disruption in sewer service.

It’s important to note that this responsibility applies to both residential and commercial properties. Whether you own a single-family home or a large office building, the sewer bill will typically be your responsibility.

Exceptions Like Separate Meters

While the general rule is that landlords are responsible for sewer bills, there are some exceptions to this. One such exception is if there are separate meters for each unit in a multi-unit building. In these cases, tenants may be responsible for their own sewer bills, as they have direct control over their water usage.

If you own a multi-unit building with separate meters, it’s important to clearly outline this in the lease agreement. Specify that tenants are responsible for their own sewer bills and provide instructions on how they can set up their own accounts with the utility company.

Check Your Lease for Any Special Agreements

It’s always a good idea to review your lease agreement to see if there are any special agreements regarding sewer bills. Sometimes, landlords and tenants may negotiate a different arrangement where the tenant is responsible for paying all or a portion of the sewer bill.

If you have any doubts or questions about who is responsible for paying the sewer bill, it’s best to consult with a legal professional who specializes in landlord-tenant law. They can review your lease agreement and provide guidance based on your specific situation.

When Tenants May Be Responsible

If There’s a Separate Sewer Meter

In some cases, tenants may be responsible for paying sewer bills if there is a separate sewer meter for their unit. This means that each unit in a building has its own meter, allowing for individual tracking of water usage.

If this is the case, tenants will typically be responsible for paying for the sewer services they consume.

If Specified in the Lease

Another instance where tenants may be responsible for sewer bills is if it is clearly specified in the lease agreement. Landlords have the ability to include provisions in the lease that outline the responsibilities of tenants when it comes to utility payments, including sewer bills.

Therefore, it is important for tenants to carefully review their lease agreements to understand if they will be responsible for paying sewer bills.

In Some Multi-Family Buildings

In certain multi-family buildings, tenants may be responsible for paying their own sewer bills. This can be the case when each unit has its own separate utility connections, allowing for individual billing.

In such situations, tenants are typically responsible for paying their own sewer bills directly to the utility company.

If the Tenant Causes a Problem

If a tenant causes a sewer-related problem, they may be held responsible for the associated costs. For example, if a tenant flushes inappropriate items down the toilet or neglects proper maintenance, resulting in a sewer backup or damage, they may be required to cover the expenses incurred from resolving the issue.

It is important for both landlords and tenants to clearly communicate and understand who is responsible for sewer bill payments. This can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that all parties fulfill their obligations.

What To Do If You Receive a Sewer Bill as a Tenant

As a tenant, receiving a sewer bill can be confusing and unexpected. However, there are steps you can take to address this situation and determine who is responsible for paying the bill. Here are some actions you can consider:

1. Clarify with Your Landlord

The first thing you should do is reach out to your landlord and discuss the sewer bill. It’s possible that there has been a mistake or miscommunication. Politely ask your landlord for clarification on whether tenants are responsible for paying the sewer bill or if it is included in the rent.

Open communication can help resolve any misunderstandings and prevent future confusion.

2. Check Your Lease

Your lease agreement is a legally binding document that outlines the terms and conditions of your tenancy. Take the time to carefully review your lease and see if it specifies who is responsible for paying the sewer bill. Look for any clauses or provisions related to utilities and expenses.

If the lease clearly states that tenants are responsible for sewer bills, you may need to proceed accordingly.

3. Look Into Separate Meters

In some cases, properties may have separate meters for each unit, including separate meters for sewer usage. If this is the case, it is important to determine if the sewer bill you received is for your specific unit or if it is a shared bill for the entire property.

Contact the utility company or check with your landlord to find out if separate meters are in place and how the sewer billing is divided among the tenants.

4. Negotiate Splitting the Bill

If you find out that tenants are indeed responsible for paying the sewer bill, but you believe it should be split among all the tenants, consider discussing this with your landlord. Diplomatically present your case and propose a fair solution.

Suggest dividing the bill equally among all the tenants or based on usage. Negotiating with your landlord can lead to a compromise that benefits everyone involved.

5. Withhold Rent

Withholding rent should be your last resort and should only be done after seeking legal advice. If you have determined that the sewer bill is the landlord’s responsibility according to your lease or local regulations, and your landlord refuses to address the issue or resolve the misunderstanding, you may consider withholding rent until the matter is resolved.

However, be aware that withholding rent can have legal consequences, so it is crucial to consult with a professional before taking this step.

Remember, every situation is unique, and it is important to understand your rights and obligations as a tenant. If you are unsure about your responsibilities regarding the sewer bill, seek legal advice or consult a tenant’s rights organization for guidance.


In summary, sewer bills generally fall under the landlord’s responsibilities unless your rental has a separate sewer meter or your lease explicitly states you must pay sewer fees. As a tenant unaware that sewer bills are your duty, don’t panic if you receive one – simply clarify whether it was sent in error.

If it turns out you are responsible, see if your landlord will negotiate splitting the bill. Understanding the ins and outs of who pays sewer bills will help both landlords and tenants handle these fees smoothly.

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