Responsibility for outgoings
Question from Lazarus updated on 12th January 2018:
Just regarding responsibility for outgoings. A tenant has occupied a rental for three years. They have been paying the fixed expenses in the water bill all this time. How best do they go about recovering these expenses from the landlord? If they tell the landlord that they would like back payment, produce the three years’ worth of water bills but the landlord disagrees, then will the Tenancy Tribunal be likely to help recover the costs?
Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:
Under the Residential Tenancies Act the landlord is responsible for all outgoings that are incurred whether or not the premises are occupied and also for those charges which are incurred for common facilities. Examples of types of outgoings to be paid by the landlord may include house insurance premiums, property rates, and fixed water charges for supply of water to the premises.
The tenant’s responsibilities for outgoings in respect of the premises are for things that are exclusively attributable to the tenant’s occupation of the premises or use of the facilities. This may include electricity, gas, telephone and internet charges for the time they have occupied the premises, and the supply of water if the water supplier charges on the basis of consumption.
Where a tenant has been paying for outgoings that they are not responsible for under the Act, they should discuss the reimbursement of these costs with their landlord. If they are unable to reach an agreement directly with the landlord, the tenant could make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.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.