When a tenant rents a property in Australia they sometimes, but not always, have to pay for part of the water costs.
This has been confusing for many people as the rules are different in each state of Australia.
The following information, with links for checking any recent changes, may help in understanding what is payable and what is not.
A tenant is entitled to a photocopy of the water account, showing the water usage and costs.
In some cases a tenant may be asked to pay to the landlord, the water usage part of the bill.
If there is no individual meter for the rented premises, as is the case with most blocks of units, a tenant cannot be charged for water usage.
A tenant may only be charged for water usage when they have agreed to pay this in the tenancy agreement.
Some water authorities also charge a fee for sewerage discharge and this fee may also be charged to the tenant.
Queensland Landlords are allowed to pass on the full water consumption costs to tenants provided all the minimum criteria have been met.
The rental premises are individually metered.
The rental premises are water efficient.
The tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for water consumption.
The landlord will pay the full water bill, and supply a copy of the water bills to the tenant, to verify the amount that the tenant is to pay to the landlord.
Landlords in South Australia may ask a tenant to pay for any or all of the charges for the supply of water.
The sewerage charges, the River Murray levy and any other levies are always the responsibility of the landlord.
The tenancy agreement must however, state that the tenant agrees to pay for the water charges.
Where no specific agreement exists, the tenant is only responsible to pay for any water usage above 136 kilolitres per year.
Landlords in Western Australia are allowed to pass all water costs on to a tenant, but they normally only charge the tenant for water consumption.
The owner is liable for the water rates (the Fixed charges, not the consumption charges) assessed on the property under section 48 of the Residential Tenancies Act, unless it is written into the tenancy agreement that the tenant must pay them.
All tenancy agreements should have something written into them about who will pay water consumption costs.
If there is nothing written into your tenancy agreement about paying for water, then the amount you have to pay is negotiable.
For example, you may be able to argue that you should only pay your own consumption costs but not the cost of watering the garden.