December 6, 2023

Illinois Submetering and Ratio Utility Billing Laws

Illinois, like many other states, has specific regulations in place to govern utility billing methods in multi-unit properties. Two common approaches are submetering and ratio utility billing systems (RUBS). In this blog post, we will explore the intricacies of Illinois submeter and RUBS laws, providing property owners, landlords, and tenants with a comprehensive understanding of their rights and responsibilities.

Submetering vs. Ratio Utility Billing Systems (RUBS):

Before diving into the legal aspects, it’s essential to differentiate between these two utility billing methods:

  1. Submetering: Submetering involves installing separate utility meters for each individual unit within a multi-unit property. Tenants are billed based on their actual utility consumption.

  1. Ratio Utility Billing Systems (RUBS): RUBS allocates utility costs among tenants based on various factors, such as square footage, the number of occupants, or a combination of factors. It estimates each tenant’s share of the overall utility costs.

Illinois Submeter Laws:

Submetering is subject to specific regulations in Illinois, including:

  • Written Agreements: Landlords must provide tenants with written agreements specifying the utility billing method. These agreements should clearly outline how utility costs will be distributed among tenants.

  • Separate Meters: Properties constructed after January 1, 1985, are required to have separate utility meters for each unit, ensuring accurate measurement of consumption.

  • Monthly Statements: Landlords must furnish tenants with monthly utility statements detailing the costs for each utility service. These statements should also include the payment due date.

  • Utility Markup Caps: Illinois law limits the amount landlords can charge as a markup on utility costs. The markup cannot exceed the actual utility cost plus reasonable administrative fees related to submetering.

  • Security Deposits: Landlords cannot deduct unpaid utility charges from a tenant’s security deposit unless agreed upon in the lease or rental agreement.

  • Penalties for Non-Compliance: Failure to adhere to Illinois submetering laws can result in penalties, including fines and potential legal action.

Illinois RUBS Laws:

While RUBS doesn’t require separate meters, it must still comply with certain regulations:

  • Written Agreements: As with submetering, landlords are obligated to provide written agreements detailing the utility allocation method.

  • Fair Allocation: Utility costs must be distributed fairly among tenants using an acceptable allocation method, such as square footage, occupancy, or another equitable measure.

  • Transparency: Landlords should maintain transparency by providing tenants with clear information regarding how utility costs are calculated.

  • Monthly Statements: Similar to submetering, tenants must receive monthly utility statements that outline their portion of the utility expenses and the due date for payment.


Illinois submetering and RUBS laws are in place to ensure fairness, transparency, and equitable distribution of utility costs in multi-unit properties. Understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial for property owners, landlords, and tenants to maintain positive landlord-tenant relationships and ensure compliance with the law.

Whether you choose submetering or RUBS, it’s essential to consult with legal experts or professionals experienced in utility billing to implement these methods correctly. By doing so, you can create a fair and transparent utility billing system that benefits everyone involved while staying in compliance with Illinois laws.