Who pays for water use?
September 4, 2020
We often field calls from residential tenants and landlords about water usage – who pays and for what?
In QLD full water usage (including the bulk water charge) can be passed onto the tenant if all of the below conditions are met:
The property is individually metered,
The property is water efficient;
The tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for the water consumption – meaning Item 12.2 is ticked yes.
It is NOT law that an owner must provide a certificate from a plumber stating the premises is water efficient. HOWEVER having this evidence is best practice to help minimise disputes.
If a tenant disputes paying for water usage on the basis the property doesn’t meet the water efficiency requirements, the onus is on the lessor to provide evidence that it does.
Evidence could include receipts for the plumbing fixtures installed in the property, although a plumber’s certificate stating the property meets the water efficiency requirements is the most ideal piece of evidence if the disputes escalates to QCAT.
REIQ recommends the provision of a copy of the compliance certificate with the Form 1a Entry Condition Report.
A property is considered water efficient if certain water fixtures meet these standards:
Water efficient devices Minimum standard
Internal cold water taps and single mixer taps (excluding bathtub taps and taps for appliances) - A maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute
2. Showerheads - A maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute
3. Toilets - A dual flush function not exceeding 6.5 litres on full flush and 3.5 litres
on half flush and a maximum average flush volume of 4 litres (
based on the average of 1 full flush and 4 half flushes)
Only internal cold water taps installed over a hand basin, kitchen sink or laundry trough (including single mixer taps) need to be water efficient. Other taps 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
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".
** Information obtained from REIQ & RTA
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