There are varying factors to take into account when assessing if water usage charges can be passed onto tenants. Under the Residential Tenancy and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, landlords are permitted to pass on the cost of water to tenants if:
- The property must be individually metered or water is delivered by vehicle
- The property must be water compliant
- The tenancy agreement must state that the tenant must pay for water consumption
- It is stated in the Form 18a, General Tenancy agreement that water is payable by the tenant
If these conditions are not met, the landlord may still be able to charge for water used in excess of ‘reasonable’ usage. The amount that is considered ‘reasonable’ is set out and agreed in the tenancy agreement.
Note: Tenants can only be charged the water usage component of the bill – not the fixed charges or sewerage charges. Landlords cannot pass on any other fess and charges, including late payment fees.
What make a rental property water efficient?
A rental premise is considered water efficient if certain water fixtures meet the standards listed in the table below.
|Water efficient devices||Minimum water efficient standard required|
|Internal cold-water taps and single mixer tap(excluding bath tub taps and taps for appliances)||A maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute|
|Shower Heads||A maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute|
|Toilets||A dual flush function not excessing 6.5 litres on full flush and 3.5 litres on half flush and a maximum average volume of 4 litres (based on the average of 1 full flush and 4 half flushes)|
The requirement for taps applies only to internal cold-water taps that are installed over a hand basin, kitchen sink or laundry trough (including single mixer taps). The requirement does not apply to other taps in the premises such as bath tub taps, outside taps for the garden, or taps which supply washing machines or dishwashers. These taps are not required to be water efficient.
How to prove the property is water efficient?
Should a tenant ever question that the property is water efficient, it is strongly recommended that the lessor invests in a water compliance certificate. It should also be noted on the entry condition report at the commencement of the tenancy if the property is water efficient.
As per information from the RTA, the lessor can demonstrate the presence of water efficient devices where it maybe unclear, such as by providing copies of:
- Plumbing reports
- Warranties or instruction manuals for taps and showerheads etc
For any water fixtures produced from 2005 onwards, the easiest way to check if they meet the required efficiency standard is to look for products with a WELS rating of three stars or higher. WELS is Australia’s water efficiency labelling scheme which rates fixtures including taps, showerheads and toilets according to water efficiency – the more stars the better. To find out more about the scheme or search the registered product database, visit www.waterrating.gov.au.
Process of paying for water consumption
Tenants for not receive a water bill directly from the locate water service provider. The landlord will receive a copy of the bill in which they will pay in full and seek reimbursement from the tenant for the water consumption component of the bill.
The tenant must be provided with a copy of the water bill as evidence of the amount of water consumed to verify the amount being charged. The tenant then has 30 days to pay the amount owing.
Who pays for water in a rental premise?
The items a tenant can be charged for
|Charge as show on water |
|Can tenant be charged?|
|State Bulk Water Charge||Yes, tenant can be charged *|
|Water Usage Charges||Yes, tenant can be charged *|
|Sewerage Usage Charge |
(may appear on the bills as fixed or variable)
|No, the tenant cannot be charged. Sewerage is not a service charge as defined by the Act and cannot be passed onto the tenant|
|Fixed Access Charges (include Water Access Charge and Sewerage Access Charge)||No, tenant cannot be charged. The lessor must pay all fixed charged for water supp y.|
*if the above criteria are met