Every lease agreement is different as every agent, landlord and owner has different preferences. Deciphering the lease and finding out what water charges apply to you can often be a tedious task. I’ve broken down the regulations and cut through the jargon to tell you what you need to know.
Water utilities and who is responsible to pay for rates and consumption is usually stated in the tenancy agreement. Before the lease is signed, payment of consumption amounts may be negotiated with the agent, landlord or owner. Water billing periods are unlikely to align with tenancy agreements. It’s important that the water meter reading is noted on the entry and exit condition/water report. If you live in a property with shared water usage, no water utilities can be charged (unless specifically negotiated in the lease agreement). If your landlord pays a bill that you are responsible for, you are required to pay them back. Your landlord is not allowed to charge you more than the utility provider would have charged.
Did you know?
What do you pay for?
An agent, landlord or owner is allowed to pass on the full cost of water consumption, provided:
- the tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for the water consumption
- the rental premises are individually metered
- the rental premises are water efficient
The ‘full cost’ of water consumption refers to the State Bulk Water Charge and the Water Usage charge. Tenants cannot be charged for the Sewerage Usage and Access charge or the Water Access charge.
SA tenants cannot be charged for the River Murray levy and VIC tenants in the Melbourne metropolitan area are required to pay for sewage disposal unless the landlord has agreed to pay these charges.
In order for an agent, landlord or owner to pass on the full cost of water, a plumber needs to provide confirmation that the property is water efficient, which is indicated in a section of your lease.
If the property is regarded as being water efficient, then all usage is paid by tenants, but if the property does not have anything that states the property as being water efficient, then only the excess is paid by tenants.
If you are paying for all water usage charges and want proof that the property is water efficient but the landlord or agent cannot prove it, then you are not liable for the water unless you use above the allowable amount.
If there is no agreement on water rates or consumption in place in your lease, the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 and Regulations set out who is responsible in certain situations.