Energy use by apartment tenants when landlords pay for utilities
Energy costs are included in the monthly rent of one fourth of U.S. apartment residents. Because these tenants do not face the marginal cost of their own energy use, they have little incentive to use energy efficiently. Explanations for this apparent market failure fall into two categories: the tenants value such arrangements more than they value the extra energy, or the landlords value the arrangements more than the cost of the extra energy. We use data from the U.S. Department of Energy's Residential Energy Consumption Survey and the Census Bureau's American Housing Survey to estimate energy consumption by tenants in utility-included apartments, and the rent premium for those apartments. While market rents for utility-included apartments are higher than for otherwise similar metered apartments, the difference is smaller than the cost of the energy used, a finding that supports landlord-side explanations for the persistence of these seemingly inefficient rental contracts.
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