Question from Eileen updated on 3rd August 2018:
The situation involves two properties next door to each other. The owner lives in one property and the tenants live in the other one. The property the owner lives in does not have its own separate power meter. The property with the tenants has the meter which is for both properties. The meter has separate readings for power usage for both properties. The owner pays for power usage. There is one fixed daily charge of which payment is shared. The property which the owner lives in uses its own gas bottles for hot water and cooking. What are the regulations that cover this type of situation?
Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:
Section 39 of the Residential Tenancies Act outlines what landlords and tenants are responsible for in regards to outgoings like power, water and telephone charges. Tenants are responsible for power costs that are exclusively attributable to the tenant’s occupation of the premises or the tenant’s use of the facilities. In other words, costs that have occurred due to the tenant living in the premises.
When there are shared outgoings between properties, one way of distinguishing a tenant’s exclusive use is by having a separate power meter. Landlords are responsible for all outgoings that are charged whether or not the premises are occupied, and charges that are incurred for any common facilities.
Therefore if the daily fixed charge for power is charged regardless of whether or not someone is occupying the rental premises, then it will be the landlord’s responsibility to pay the fixed charges. Where there is one power account for two premises then this should be in the name of the landlord, rather than a tenant.
You can view more information about utilities and outgoings at www.tenancy.govt.nz/rent-bond-and-bills/utilities-and-other-payments/. For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz or subscribe to our Tenancy Services e-newsletter at www.tenancy.govt.nz/subscribe.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.