Landlords' responsilbilites regarding water tanks

Question from Kim Girbin updated on 10th September 2007:

I have a new rental property in Kaiwaka that is on tank water. There is town supply from the river but this is not suitable for drinking etc - this only goes to an outside tap for this reason. Can I add an inclusion that the tenant is responsible for the tank if they empty it. It will be full when they move in. Thanks

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Landlords are responsible for ensuring there is an adequate supply of water to their rental properties (Housing Improvement Regulations 1947). If the water supply is from a tank, the landlord should provide a full tank at the start of a tenancy and refill as needed. A tenant is responsible for water charges only if:
1. The premises have a separate water meter
2. The tenant’s written tenancy agreement states that, at the start of the tenancy, the tenant will pay for metered water provided to the tenancy
3. The water supplier charges for water provided to the premises on a metered basis.
In most cases the landlord must pay for the refill, as generally tanks do not have water meters. A tenant will not be responsible for water charges if they agree with the landlord, in writing, that the landlord will pay the charges, or if there is no reference to payment of water charges in the tenancy agreement.

Recommended reading: Working Landlord, Happy Tenants by Roger Clist. $29.95

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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