Who Pays For Water At A Rental Property?
Many landlords and tenants do not know who is responsible for water charges during a tenancy.
Tenants can only be charged for water consumption if:
the property is individually metered (or water is delivered by vehicle), and
the property is water efficient, and
the tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for water consumption
The property owner must pay all fixed charges. The tenant cannot be charged more than the billable amount.
Proving water efficiency
It is a good idea for the property manager/owner to be able to demonstrate the presence of water efficient fittings by having copies of:
plumbing reports (or compliance certification)
warranties or instruction manuals for taps and showerheads
Water efficient property
A property is considered water efficient if certain water fixtures meet these standards:
Only internal cold water taps installed over a hand basin, kitchen sink or laundry trough (including single mixer taps) need to be water efficient. Others such as bath tub taps, outside taps for the garden, or taps which supply washing machines or dishwashers do not have to be water efficient to meet the requirement.
Property is not water efficient
If the property is not water efficient but individually metered, and the agreement states the tenant must pay for water, the property manager/owner must pay for a 'reasonable amount' (not defined by the Act) of water consumption, and the tenant may be required to pay excess water charges.
Passing bills on to tenants
It is best for property managers/owners to pass on water bills in a timely manner.
While the Act does not provide timeframes for invoices to be given to tenants, if the matter is taken to QCAT, a previous ruling stated it was "unreasonable for a lessor (property owner) to withhold water charges and issue an invoice that covers a significant period and a significant amount".
As most properties are billed every 3 months, best practice for landlords or property managers is to invoice tenants quarterly.