Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 06:26 am

Rubs is an acronym for “Rental Unit Building Standards” and is a set of rules and regulations that landlords must follow when renting out their units.

Are you a property owner or a property manager looking for effective ways to manage utility expenses in your multifamily properties?

RUBS is a popular utility management solution that can help you accurately allocate utility costs among your tenants based on their individual usage and the square footage of their units.

We will discuss concept of RUBS, its advantages, and how it can positively impact both property owners and tenants.

We will also talk about the implementation methods of RUBS, including the calculation of utility charges and the use of unique formulas for different utility types. 

Additionally, we will explore the legal considerations and regulations surrounding RUBS in various locations.

By implementing RUBS, you can ensure fair utility cost allocation, reduce the financial burden on property owners, and incentivize tenants to be more mindful of their utility usage.

Stay tuned as we provide an in-depth analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of RUBS, and equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions regarding utility management in your multifamily properties.

Introduction to RUBS

In the world of real estate property management, Ratio Utility Billing Systems (RUBS) has emerged as a significant tool for allocating and managing utility expenses.

RUBS refers to a method where utility costs are divided among tenants based on specific ratios, such as square footage, number of occupants, or other predetermined factors. 

This system allows property owners to accurately distribute utility bills without the need for individual metering in multifamily properties.

Rubs are designed to ensure that rental units are safe, secure, and habitable for tenants.

Rubs may also include requirements for landlords to provide regular maintenance and repairs to rental units.

Implementing RUBS offers several advantages for both property owners and tenants. 

Firstly, it ensures fairness in utility cost allocation, as it takes into account factors like unit size and occupancy. 

This way, tenants only pay for the utilities [like water] they use, avoiding any discrepancies or unfair burden.

RUBS also has a positive impact on the profitability of property owners. 

By implementing this system, landlords can recover a portion of the monthly utility expenses, reducing the costs they would otherwise bear from their own pocket.

This increased profitability, coupled with the fair allocation of utility charges, makes RUBS an attractive and popular utility management solution.

Furthermore, RUBS provides a cost-effective alternative in cases where individually sub-metering each unit is not feasible due to technical limitations or cost constraints. 

By using ratios to distribute utility costs, property owners can still achieve accurate billing for each tenant without the need for extensive infrastructure or investment.

RUBS plays a crucial role in real estate property management, allowing for fair utility cost allocation, increased profitability, and efficient utility management.

Understanding RUBS Income

RUBS income, also known as Ratio Utility Billing System income, is a method used in property management to allocate utility costs among tenants based on various factors.

Rubs are typically set by local or state governments and are enforced by local housing authorities.

This approach is widely implemented in multifamily properties to ensure fair distribution of utility expenses while maximizing profitability for property owners. 

Let’s dive into how RUBS income works and its impact on both property owners and tenants.

Definition of RUBS Income

RUBS income involves calculating a tenant’s share of the utility expenses by using a predetermined formula that takes into account factors such as the square footage of their unit, the number of occupants, or a combination of both. 

Through RUBS, the total utility expenses for a property are proportionately divided among the tenants, allowing property owners to recover a portion of the utility costs.


Let’s say you own a multifamily property with four units. Each unit has a different square footage: Unit A is 800 square feet, Unit B is 1000 square feet, Unit C is 1200 square feet, and Unit D is 1500 square feet. 

Using RUBS, you can calculate the utility charges for each unit based on their square footage. Let’s assume the total monthly utility expenses for the property amount to $1000. 

To allocate the charges, you would first calculate the square footage ratio for each unit. In our example, the total square footage for all units combined is 4500 square feet (800 sq ft + 1000 sq ft + 1200 sq ft + 1500 sq ft). 

Next, you would divide each unit’s square footage by the total square footage to obtain their respective ratios. 

Unit A: 800 sq ft / 4500 sq ft = 0.178 ratio

Unit B: 1000 sq ft / 4500 sq ft = 0.222 ratio

Unit C: 1200 sq ft / 4500 sq ft = 0.267 ratio

Unit D: 1500 sq ft / 4500 sq ft = 0.333 ratio

Now, you can assign the utility charges to each unit based on their ratios. 

Impact on Property Owners

Implementing RUBS income can provide several benefits for property owners.

Firstly, it enables them to recover a significant portion of utility expenses that would otherwise have been paid out of their own pocket. This helps to offset the overall operational costs of the property and increase profitability.

Secondly, RUBS income allows property owners to allocate utility costs more fairly among tenants based on their actual usage or the size of their units. 

This ensures that tenants with larger units or more occupants contribute proportionally more towards the utility expenses, promoting fairness and transparency.

Impact on Tenants

For tenants, RUBS income offers a clear advantage in terms of cost allocation. It ensures that utility costs are distributed based on a standardized formula, eliminating discrepancies and minimizing disputes over individual usage. 

This system encourages tenants to be mindful of their utility consumption and encourages responsible usage.

Additionally, RUBS income provides tenants with the convenience of not having to set up individual utility accounts or meters, simplifying the billing process and reducing administrative burdens. They receive a single monthly utility bill that includes their share of the overall utility expenses.

It is important to note that RUBS income is a legal and acceptable method of utility cost allocation, as long as it is implemented within the regulatory framework of the specific region. 

Property owners and managers should familiarize themselves with local regulations and consult legal experts if needed to ensure compliance.

By implementing RUBS income, both property owners and tenants can benefit from a more equitable and streamlined utility cost allocation system. 

It promotes transparency, reduces financial burdens, and creates a win-win situation for all parties involved in property management.

Benefits of Implementing RUBS

Implementing a Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) in property management offers several advantages that benefit both property owners and tenants. 

By using RUBS, property managers can allocate utility costs more fairly and accurately, leading to increased profitability and improved tenant satisfaction.

Fair Utility Cost Allocation

One of the main benefits of implementing RUBS is fair utility cost allocation. RUBS allows property owners to distribute utility expenses among tenants based on their usage, rather than relying solely on fixed rates or dividing costs equally. This method ensures that each tenant pays their fair share, promoting equity among residents.

Increased Profitability

RUBS can have a positive impact on a property’s profitability. By implementing a RUBS program, property owners can recover utility expenses that would otherwise come out of their own pocket. This additional income can contribute to the overall profitability of the property, helping to offset operating expenses and potentially increasing the property’s value.

Conservation Incentives

Another benefit of RUBS is the promotion of conservation incentives. When tenants are aware that their individual utility usage affects their monthly bill, they are more likely to be mindful of their consumption.

 This can lead to reduced utility usage, resulting in cost savings for both tenants and property owners. 

Additionally, decreased utility usage contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing overall resource consumption.

Improved Tenant Satisfaction

Implementing RUBS can also improve tenant satisfaction. With RUBS, tenants have a sense of control over their utility costs, as they are directly impacted by their individual consumption. 

This transparency helps tenants understand their usage patterns and encourages responsible energy consumption. Additionally, fair allocation of utility costs fosters a sense of fairness and equity among residents, leading to higher tenant satisfaction.

Implementing a Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) in property management offers numerous benefits such as fair utility cost allocation, increased profitability, conservation incentives, and improved tenant satisfaction. 

How to Implement RUBS

RUBS is used in about 40% of all multi-unit properties in the United States.

Implementing a Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) is a practical and effective way to allocate utility costs in property management. 

Step 1: Set Up a System

1. Familiarize Yourself with RUBS: Understand the basics of RUBS, including its purpose and benefits. This will help you effectively communicate with tenants and address any concerns.

2. Determine RUBS Formula: Each property may require a unique formula based on factors like square footage, number of units, or number of occupants. Determine the formula that aligns with your property’s needs and local regulations.

3. Install Submeters (Optional): Consider installing submeters to measure individual utility usage accurately. This can provide more precise billing, but it’s not always necessary for implementing RUBS.

Step 2: Calculate Utility Charges

1. Gather Utility Data: Collect utility bills for a designated period, typically covering the previous 12 months. Ensure you have accurate and up-to-date records from utility providers.

2. Determine Allocation Method: Decide how you will distribute utility costs among tenants. Common methods include dividing total utility expenses by the number of units, square footage occupied, or a combination of factors.

3. Calculate RUBS Charge: Apply the chosen allocation method to determine each tenant’s RUBS charge. This calculation should be transparent, fair, and consistent.

Step 3: Measure Tenants’ Square Footage

1. Establish Measurement Standards: Define consistent measurement practices for determining each unit’s square footage. This ensures accuracy and removes any discrepancies.

2. Conduct Unit Measurements: Measure the square footage of each unit following the established standards. Use reliable measuring tools and techniques to obtain precise results.

3. Update Tenant Records: Update tenant profiles with accurate square footage measurements. This will allow you to calculate RUBS charges based on each unit’s size effectively.

Implementing RUBS facilitates equitable utility cost distribution, benefits property owners, and incentivizes tenants to practice responsible energy usage. By following these steps, you can establish a reliable and efficient RUBS system that benefits both your property management operations and your tenants.

Legal Considerations and Regulations

Implementing ratio utility billing systems (RUBS) in property management comes with various legal considerations and regulations that property owners and managers need to be aware of. These regulations ensure compliance and fair practices among all parties involved.

Compliance with Local Laws

Every location may have its own set of rules and regulations regarding utility billing and RUBS implementation. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific laws in your area to avoid any legal issues. Obtain proper permits and licenses if required to operate a utility billing system.

Transparency and Disclosure

Transparency is key when implementing RUBS. Proper disclosure of the RUBS program and how it works should be made to tenants. This includes providing clear descriptions of how utility charges are calculated, how the RUBS formula is determined, and how these charges will be billed to tenants.

Fairness and Non-Discrimination

Ensure that the RUBS program is implemented fairly among all tenants. Avoid any discriminatory practices based on factors such as age, race, gender, or disability. Devise a fair and equitable method of allocating utility costs that takes into account the size and occupancy of each unit.

Accurate Utility Charge Calculation

It is important to accurately calculate utility charges using a reliable method. Take into consideration the unit’s square footage, number of occupants, or any other relevant factors outlined in the RUBS formula. 

Contractual Agreements

Include provisions related to RUBS in lease agreements or rental contracts. Clearly state how utility charges will be billed and the responsibilities of both the property owner and the tenant. Promptly address any issues that may arise concerning utility billing to maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship.

Ongoing Maintenance and Compliance

Regularly review and evaluate the RUBS program to ensure compliance with any changes in local regulations. Stay up-to-date with any amendments or updates in utility billing laws that may affect your operation. Additionally, maintain accurate records of utility expenses and calculations for future reference.