At your service. Or not. In some apartment buildings, you don’t get what you pay for.

Apartment owners pay the same property tax rates as single-family homeowners in the commonwealth’s cities and towns, but they typically don’t use the same utilities.

Although there are exceptions, many municipalities (including Boston) that provide trash pickup for single-family homes do not include multifamily trash pickup. This means that apartment owners must pay private contractors to pick up trash and recycling, while single-family homeowners receive this service at no additional cost.

Thomas O. Moriarty, attorney specializing in condominium law and principal of the firm Moriarty Troyer and Malloysaid, although it is legitimate to treat them differently: “It is fundamentally unfair that simply because of the form of ownership, apartment owners do not receive the same services that individual homeowners receive, even though they pay the same tax rates.

And it doesn’t end there. Many communities’ water and sewer charges are based on the water meter. Many single-family homes and many apartment buildings have a single water meter.

in Boston, water rates starting at $7,967 for the first 1,000 gallons, $8,508 for the next, $9,279 for the next, and so on. According to Environmental Protection Agency, the average US resident uses about 82 gallons of water per day. At about 328 gallons per day for a hypothetical family of four, it’s easy to see how the water rates for a single-family home could add up. According to the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, small apartment buildings can have a meter per unit, but they must pay for it themselves.

Now consider a medium-sized apartment building with 20 units, 40 residents and one water meter. That’s 3,280 gallons per day. After one day, the residents of that building are already approaching the fourth tier of water and sewer rates, even though their per capita water consumption is about the same as that of a single-family home.

And sewage is not accounted for. It is simply assumed that almost all water that enters the building eventually exits through the sewer system. These rates are also tiered and even higher than water rates, creating a double whammy for owners of public water/sewer systems.

The city of Boston declined multiple requests for comment for this story.

Moriarty said the discrepancy was inexcusable.

“It’s completely arbitrary,” he said. “The municipality disperses that water into a single-family apartment building unit. This is not a commercial use. This is not an industrial use. It ignores the fact that it is an authorized form of ownership, a legal form of residential ownership.

Richard E. Brooks, Attorney with Marcus, Errico, Emmer and Brooks, has been representing apartment building associations for decades, which seek to ensure fair treatment by municipalities. He said there is even more inequality.

For example, some condominium associations are located in small enclaves with private roads that essentially function as public roads, but municipalities do not plow or maintain sidewalks, driveways or lighting. Associations have to pay private contractors for this.

“Over the years, I’ve worked with apartment building association groups to get about 36 municipalities to collect trash near apartment buildings,” he said. “And there are another 16 or 17 who are considering it.”

Brooks said the problem stems from the day developers apply for a special permit to build apartments, since nearly all apartment buildings in eastern Massachusetts are built by special permit. The developer has to “sell” the project to the municipality, and very often, according to him, the sales pitch is this version:

“You’re going to get 50 new ratepayers, that’s a lot more revenue per acre than you would get from a single-family home, and the apartment buildings will pick up their own trash,” he said. “And they will solve their security problems. And they probably won’t use your school system because the units are smaller.

“The city is happy because logistically they know it’s a better deal for them.” So the developer gives away all these rights, but the rights they give away are the future owners’ rights, not theirs.

Brooks said many condo associations don’t want to litigate due process because it’s too expensive. In an effort to get municipalities to treat condominiums more fairly, he proposed that condominiums come together as a community and lobby the municipal government.

“This is a political fight, not a legal fight,” he said. If we sue for this we would lose because they are allowed to discriminate. I’ve been doing this for 34 years and I’ve never taken the city to court over it.

“Just try and ask your city to change.” You live there, so you can ask them to do it. And then you can show them why it’s only fair and just.

Jim Morrison can be reached at [email protected]. Subscribe to the free Globe Real Estate Newsletter, our weekly roundup of buying, selling and design at follow us on Twitter @globehomes.

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