Do Landlords Pay For Water in NSW – Martin and Grace Version
In NSW, state laws determine who pays for the water usage in a rented property. A residential tenancy agreement will state who is responsible to pay for each utility, and in most cases, the tenant will need to pay for their water usage during their lease.
Find out more about what responsibilities a tenant and landlord have regarding payment of utilities when a tenant is not required to pay, and what conditions, rules, and regulations apply.
Let’s take a closer look.
Who Pays Water Rates In NSW – Tenant Or Landlord?
The Residential Tenancy Act provides legislation that states who is responsible to pay the water usage charges at a rental premises. Section 39 of the act states that landlords are only permitted to pass the water charges onto the tenant in certain circumstances, which may include;
- The rental property is separately metered
- Water is delivered to the property (relevant for rural properties)
- The property meets the required water efficiency measures
- The amount charged to the tenant is not more than the amount billed by the water supplier
Water usage charges are paid separately to rent payments and are generally due every quarter. A tenant must also ensure that the meter’s reading is noted on the residential tenancy agreement, as the water billing periods will not usually align with the lease period. This ensures that the tenant is not paying for another tenant’s water use.
What Does Separately Metered Mean?
For a landlord to pass on water usage charges to the tenant, there must be a separate water meter at the property which meets specific criteria.
- The water meter be correctly installed
- It must only measure water supplied or used at the property
- Can be billed separately for all charges, including use and supply at the property
If a separate water meter is not installed at the property, the landlord can not charge the tenant for water use. For example, a block of units may have a flow meter that cannot be read by a water supply authority, meaning the tenants can be inaccurately charged. When no individual meter is installed, the tenant can not be charged for water use. Having water separately metered ensures tenants only pay for the water they have used.
What Are Water Efficiency Measures?
Rental properties must comply with water efficiency measures per clause 10 of the state regulation. The water usage can not be passed onto the tenant if it does not comply.
Water efficiency standards are in place to protect the tenant and ensure that they are not paying for water that cannot be used due to faulty plumbing systems. For example, leaking taps or toilets can waste a substantial quantity of water over time, which, unless repaired, can become expensive. The water efficiency legislation states that the following required standards must be met:
- No leaking taps or toilets are permitted anywhere on the property at the start of the tenancy.
- Shower heads must comply with a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute.
- All internal cold water taps in kitchen sinks and bathroom hand basins, including single mixer taps, must have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute.
- All dual flush toilets must achieve a minimum 3-star water efficiency labelling and standards (WELS) rating.
The maximum flow rate does not apply to outside taps, washing machines, dishwashers, laundry, and bathtub taps.
Tenants can request evidence, such as a condition report from their landlord, to show that the property meets the water efficiency minimum standards.
How Are Water Charges Paid?
A landlord must provide a copy of the water provider’s bill to the tenant and provide a minimum of 21 days for them to pay. If the landlord receives any rebates for water usage, they must pass on the discount to the tenant.
A landlord must present the water bill to the tenant within three months of receiving it from the supplier, or the tenant will not be required to pay the charges.
What About Utility Fees And Other Charges?
Generally, the landlord is responsible to pay for the installation and connection of various services, such as electricity and bottled gas, whilst the tenant pays for the use of most utilities. The landlord is responsible for paying for the following;
- Installation of gas, electricity or oil services to the property
- Any utilities that are not individually metered
- Bottled gas supply at the commencement of the tenancy
- Installation of water services and any supply which is not individually metered
- All sewerage supply services
- Water supply service charges
The landlord is also entirely responsible to pay all government rates, taxes and levies charged concerning the property.
For social housing tenants utilising a centralised hot water system, an individual hot water meter will calculate how much you are required to pay.
What General Utilities Will A Tenant Pay?
The landlord is responsible for the maintenance and repairs of all utilities located at the rented premises. Sometimes, it may include liaising with the supplier and reporting an issue such as a gas leak. The landlord will only be responsible for paying for the repairs if the problem is located within the property’s boundary; otherwise, it is the provider’s responsibility.
A tenant must notify the landlord in writing to advise when there is a problem and phone them if the matter requires urgent assistance.
Repairs To Supply Of Utilities?
In NSW, it is illegal for strata or landlords to refuse a person with a disability to keep their assistance animal at their residence. As per the New South Wales Companion Animals Act 1998, an assistance animal is the exception to the rule regarding the landlord’s discretion for pets in rental properties.
The strata committee is permitted to request evidence of the assistance animals status, such as accreditation from a training body or a permit issued by service NSW.
What About Embedded Network Rentals?
An embedded network is a private energy network often utilised within a self-contained site such as a strata unit complex, apartment buildings, retirement villages or residential land lease communities. The site owner or corporation purchases energy from a retailer and “on sells” it to the residents.
The residential tenancy agreement must state if an embedded network is used to supply gas or electricity to the rental property.
The Residential Tenancy Act provides legislation which states who is responsible to pay water usage at a rented premises. For a landlord to pass on water usage charges to the tenant, there must be a separate water meter at the property which meets specific criteria.
A separately metered water meter must be installed correctly to measure only water supplied to the property. The property must meet all other water efficiency measures, including maximum flow rates for various taps throughout the household.
A tenant is responsible to pay all water usage during their tenancy period and other general utilities if they are separately metered.
The landlord is responsible for repairs and maintenance of all utilities located at the rented premises and installation and connection of various services such as electricity and bottled gas.
When no individual meter is installed, the tenant can not be charged for water use. Having water separately metered ensures tenants only pay for water they have used.
Do You Pay For Water When Renting Australia?
State legislation determines who is responsible to pay water usage charges at a rented premises. It says tenants are responsible for individual water use if the property is separately metered and meets prescribed water efficiency measures. If the rental property is not separately metered, the landlord can not pass on the water usage charges to their tenant. Having water separately metered ensures tenants only pay for water they have used.
How Do I Sort My Water Bill When Renting?
A landlord must provide a copy of the water supply authority’s bill to the tenant and provide a minimum of 21 days for them to pay. Water usage charges are paid separately to rent payments and will come as a separate bill.
Water will be separately metered, which means that the meter on the residential premises will only measure water supplied or used at the property, which ensures accuracy when paying for your water usage.
A tenant is not responsible for paying water supply service and repair charges for a water bill provided more than three months after the issue date.
Tenants must ensure that the water meter reading is noted on the condition report when they move in or out of a rental to ensure that they are only charged for their use.