Question from Ben updated on 13th October 2016:
We live on a property with two separate dwellings but we share a power meter. At the moment we pay 50% of the power bill each month but in the house we share power with the owner is an elderly lady who is at home all the time. This drives our power bill through the roof, especially over winter. Do we have a right to request a sub- meter so that we know exactly how much power we are using and can pay our fair share?
Our expert Allan Galloway responded:
A tenant is only responsible for paying for outgoings such as power and water that they use themselves. When there are multiple dwellings on a property, or individual room agreements within a house, the bill for the outgoings needs to be in the name of the landlord.
If the landlord does not include the power and water costs in the rent, and wants to recover them from the tenants, then there needs to be separate meters installed so that you are only paying what you have used. These are also known as ‘check meters’. You should ask your landlord to install the check meter (at their cost).
The landlord cannot just divide the bill up between the number of tenancies in place, or by the number of people living at the premises, unless the Tenancy Tribunal permits the arrangement.
Where a tenant has been paying costs such as power or water where it cannot be proved exactly how much they have used, they may be able to request that the amount paid or a portion of it be refunded by making an application to the Tenancy Tribunal.
For further information regarding landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, you can visit our website at www.tenancy.govt.nz.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.