Changes to waste water charges in Manukau

Question from Glenn updated on 15th July 2011:

Who is now responsible for paying waste-water charges? I have tenants who live in Manukau, and have paid water usage, however, with the Auckland Council coming into being, there is talk of tenants having to pay waste-water charges. This concerns me, as tenants in lower socio economic areas, have difficulties paying for water usage, let alone wastewater charges.

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act (the Act) for tenancies that started after 1 October 2010 the tenant is responsible for all outgoings that are exclusively attributable to their occupation of the premises.

This means that the tenant is responsible for paying for charges such as electricity, gas, telephone and water supply, if they are charged on the basis of consumption. Costs that are charged regardless of whether there are tenants living in the premises are the responsibility of the landlord.

For tenancies that started before 1 October 2010, tenants can only be required to pay for water charges if:

• the premises have a separate water meter; and

• the written tenancy agreement states that the tenant shall pay for metered water; and

• the water supplier provides water to the premises on a metered basis.  

The current waste water charges charged by Manukau Water (which remain in effect until 30 June 2011) are based on an annual rate, and are charged on a daily basis. As waste water is not charged on a consumption or metered basis, it may be considered the landlord’s responsibility.

On 1 July 2011 Manukau Water will be incorporated into Watercare. Watercare will continue the same methods of charging for water and waste water in the Manukau area (but will apply a 4.5% increase to the prices formerly charged by Manukau Water). As waste water will continue to be charged on a daily basis rather than on a consumption or metered basis, it may continue to be considered the landlord’s responsibility.

For more information on the Watercare’s charges for water and waste water, and for information on the price structure for properties in Manukau from 1 July 2011, you can visit the Watercare website (www.watercare.co.nz), or call Watercare on 09 442 2222.

If a landlord and tenant cannot agree on who is responsible for waste water charges, either party may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Department of Building and Housing website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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