Can I charge my tenant for water consumption?

Can I charge my tenant for water consumption?

The most common question I am asked by landlords is, “What do I need to do to prepare my property for rent?” This article is part of a series outlining the most important facets of preparing your investment property. The 9 most important steps are:
  1. Arrange A Bond Clean by A Professional
  2. Water Compliance
  3. Smoke Alarm Compliance
  4. Pool Safety Compliance
  5. General Maintenance And Repairs
  6. Gardening – Clean Up And Tidy Up
  7. Landlord Insurance
  8. Carpet Cleaning And Pest Control
  9. Have Photos Taken
In this issue we cover: Step 2 Water Compliance When asked, “Can I charge my tenant for water consumption?”, the short answer is “yes” you can.

Lessors are allowed to pass on the full water consumption charges (including bulk water charges) to tenants provided all the minimum criteria have been met.

 

What are the minimum criteria for water charging?

 

Lessors are able to pass on the full water consumption charges to tenants if:

  • the rental premises are individually metered (or water is delivered by vehicle), and
  • the rental premises are water efficient, and
  • the tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for water consumption.

What are water efficient rental premises?

·       A rental premises 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 taps (excluding bathtub taps and taps for appliances) A maximum flow rate of 9  litres per minute
Showerheads A maximum flow rate of 9  litres per minute
Toilets A dual flush function not exceeding 6.5 litres on full flush and a maximum average flush volume of 4 litres ( based on 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 can the lessor/agent prove the premises are water efficient?

To be able to charge a tenant for water consumption the property has to be “Water Compliant” which needs to be evidenced with a Water Compliance Certificate, issued by a Licenced plumber. The plumber will check all applicable taps and fit restrictors as required.

The water meter is read at the start of the tenancy and recorder on the entry condition report with a photo of the water meter reading. Once we receive the Water and Sewerage notice from the local council, the consumption is then calculated from the start of the tenancy and the tenant invoiced. We then allow them 30 days to pay this invoice.

If we are not able to produce this certificate when a tenant requests it, they can refuse to pay for water bills and they can demand we refund any money paid in the past when the property was not compliant.

So, yes you can charge a tenant for water consumption providing the property is Compliant, evidenced by a Water Compliance Certificate

Information Source: RTA – rta.qld.gov.au

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