Going the Extra Step: Utilizing Mapping Software to Control Common Area Costs ©
When monitoring what you pay to your landlord for Common Area costs it can often times be difficult to determine the accuracy and reasonableness of many of the charges, even when the landlord provides “supporting” invoices. For example, the year-end reconciliation that you received from your landlord reflects irrigation water charges of $28,000, which is significantly higher than you would have expected the cost to be. You contact the landlord and they provide you with “supporting” invoices and they tell you “it is what it is”. Sound familiar?
We recommend using location specific mapping software that takes into account the type of landscaping, climate conditions, efficiency of the sprinkler system, local utility rates, and other property specific conditions, to accurately estimate the actual cost of irrigation. This is an approach similar to electricity load studies that we have used successfully for many years. The success of our mapping program has been significant. In the example presented above, we were able to lower the irrigation water charges from $28,000 to $13,500, a 52% reduction. The landlord accepted the findings because rather than us just saying that “the amount is way too high”, we were able to provide hard documentation that could not be refuted. By using mapping software incorporating governmental established guidelines, we have eliminated the guesswork associated with traditional estimating methods.
Mapping software can also be extremely helpful when determining proper snow removal and salting charges. With the extreme nature of this past winter, tenants may find that the most recent snow removal charges billed to them by their landlord have increased significantly. Simply accepting these increased charges, without conducting a mapping analysis, could be very costly. When conducting a mapping analysis to determine the reasonableness of snow removal and salting charges, area specific weather data is part of the analysis.
It is important to remember that as a tenant you should never simply accept the landlord’s explanations of charges that you feel may be out of whack. With research, an understanding of how these systems work and the use of the correct software we have found that tenants can save significant amounts of money not just for the current year but also going forward.