Mad about a meter

Question from Juliet updated on 13th July 2011:

I rented an apartment in a two storey home. The landlord was living upstairs and I downstairs. The two units were not separately metered for diesel or electricity. While payment for diesel was stipulated on the T/A on a pro rata basis, no mention was made of electricity. Because there has been no separate metering, there have been endless disputes relating to the payment of accounts, in one instance necessitating legal advice. Is it legal to rent out an apartment where there is no separate metering for what are expensive utilities? The T/A was signed in July 2010.

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

It is legal to rent out premises where there is no separate metering for utilities. However, sharing charges with other premises can cause difficulties when determining the cost the tenant is responsible for. Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, tenants are responsible for charges for electricity supplied to the premises, unless the tenancy agreement says the charges are payable by the landlord.

I suggest that you try to reach an agreement with your landlord about a standard formula or way the charges will be divided. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your landlord you could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.

To discuss your situation further, or for information about who is responsible for shared costs, you can visit the Department of Building and Housing website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

Please note that for tenancies that commenced after 1 October 2010 the rules relating to charges for outgoings have changed. For more information please visit http://www.dbh.govt.nz/tenancy-az-n-q.

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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