Who pays water rates: the tenant or the landlord?
It is interesting to note that many landlords require their tenants to pay for water use in their residential leased premises in addition to their weekly rental. This notice is usually delivered to the tenant shortly after its issue every quarter for payment within a specified period, however, many landlords and their managing agents are not aware of these changes that came into force in January 2010 under s.39(1)(b) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (as amended).
An excerpt from a current Residential Tenancy Agreement, NSW states:
11. The landlord agrees that the tenant is not required to pay water usage charges unless:
11.1 the landlord gives the tenant a copy of the part of the water supply authority’s bill setting out the charges, or other evidence of the cost of water used by the tenant; and
11.2 the landlord gives the tenant at least 21 days to pay the charges; and
11.3 the landlord requests payment of the charges by the tenant not later than 3 months after the issue of the bill for the charges by the water supply authority; and
11.4 the residential premises have the following water efficiency measures:
11.4.1 all internal cold water taps and single mixer taps for kitchen sinks or bathroom hand basins on the premises have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute;
11.4.2 all showerheads have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute;
11.4.3 there are no leaking taps at the commencement of this agreement or when the water efficiency measures are installed, whichever is the later.
12. The landlord agrees to give the tenant the benefit of, or an amount equivalent to, any rebate received by the landlord for water usage charges payable or paid by the tenant.
Landlords and their Managing Agents should be mindful of these changes to the legislation and the new Residential Tenancy Agreements.
If a tenant has paid any water charges in residential premises, which are not payable pursuant to the tenancy agreement, S.47 of the Act allows the tenant to request the landlord in writing to refund all the charges paid by the tenant. Even if the agreement currently in place between the parties does not contain the new provision in relation to water charges, from January 2012 those provisions are deemed to be included in every existing Residential Tenancy Agreement.
In the event that the Landlord refuses to refund the tenant within fourteen (14) days, the tenant may apply to the Tribunal for an Order against the landlord.
Where a tenant is entering into a Residential Tenancy Agreement and there is a requirement for the tenant to pay the water usage additional to the rent, it is recommended that the tenant check the premises in relation to the new water efficiency compliance regulations and then discuss same with the landlord or managing agent.
For more information, please contact our office on 1800 621 071 or complete our online enquiry form by clicking here.