Not responsible for metered water

Question from Rachel updated on 6th November 2013:

Water meters are currently being installed in my area. I'm a tenant and in my tenancy agreement it states "the tenant shall not pay for any metered water provided to the premises". I just received a letter stating the tenant will be responsible for water bill. I would have thought I wouldn't be responsible for the bill based on the clause in the tenancy agreement, am I wrong?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act (the Act), tenants are responsible for all outgoings that are exclusively attributable to their occupation of the premises. This includes the amount charged by a supplier for water provided to the premises which are calculated 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. However, if you had an agreement with your landlord at the start of the tenancy stating that you would not be responsible for any metered water charges (and this is reflected in your tenancy agreement), you should highlight this clause and previous agreement to your landlord. If you are unable to reach an agreement directly with your landlord over where the responsibility lies for water charges in light of the change to the water metering in your area, either party may make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or for information about water charges or making an application to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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