Paying rates and utilities
The following information explains what payments can be passed on from council rates, water, gas and electricity charges.
Tenancy agreements from 1 July 2013 cannot make a tenant liable for paying council rates. For a tenancy agreement prior to 1 July 2013 that has not been renewed, extended, or assigned, any agreement in regards to council rates continues to apply, including if the tenant is liable for payment.
Water, gas and electricity bills
Generally, landlords pay the water rates and the tenants pay for their consumption of these services.
The prescribed tenancy agreement requires you to indicate whether the electricity, gas and water services to the rental property are separately metered.
If there is no separate metering for any of these services, the prescribed tenancy agreement requires you to put in a calculation about how the tenant’s costs will be worked out.
A calculation for electricity may be ($ total amount of bill / total number of bedrooms in the apartment block) x number of bedrooms in the rental premises in the tenancy agreement. If the tenancy was for a two bedroom apartment in a block of ten and the bill was for $200 then the calculation would be: ($200 bill amount / 20 bedrooms in apartment block) X 2 (bedrooms in rental premises) = $20.
It is important to include these calculations as the tenant is not obliged to pay a utility bill unless there is written agreement about how the bill will be calculated.
If the tenant receives their electricity bill from you, i.e. not directly from the electricity supplier, you cannot charge the tenant any amount other than the consumption cost. You would need to pay the supply cost yourself.
The Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) produce consumer guides to help you to understand more about electricity, gas and water services. The ERA also provide information on bill concessions and assistance.
Notice to tenant of charges for utilities
- the total charge for the tenant’s consumption of the utility; and
- if consumption at the premises is metered — the meter readings and the charge per metered unit;
- if consumption at the premises is not metered — the charge calculated by the method previously agreed in writing; and
- the amount of GST payable for the tenant’s portion of the service.
Water meter reading
We strongly recommend you get a special meter reading from the Water Corporation at the start and end of a tenancy and record this in Part C of the prescribed tenancy agreement or property condition report. This will reduce the likelihood of disputes over water costs, which are a common area of concern for tenants.
Since all water consumed is chargeable to your tenant, you may want to share the costs of the water bill to encourage the tenant to water lawns and gardens. The prescribed tenancy agreement lets you identify what percentage of the water consumption costs the tenant is required to pay.
Contact the Water Corporation on 13 13 85 for more information about meter readings.
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