Waste water bills, landlord's or tenant's responsibility?

Question from mark anyon updated on 13th March 2007:

Hello, I understood from a recent NZ Herald article that it was now possible to have the water bill put directly in the tenants name now as the tenant is responsible for water bills. Metrowater claim this is not the case however. I am now confused. Chasing up water bills is a huge hassle. Any advise on where I stand would be appreciated

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

The Department cannot comment on the specific billing practices of water companies. The law provides that the ratepayer (usually the owner) is liable for rates, including water rates, on a rental property (Local Government (Rating) Act 2002, section 12). This means that the ratepayer will be legally responsible for any outstanding water rates if water bills are not paid. However, a landlord can recover the cost of water rates from his or her tenant(s), under section 39 of the Residential Tenancies Act, provided that all three conditions below are met: 1. The premises have a separate water meter, and 2. The tenant’s written tenancy agreement states that, at the start of the tenancy, the tenant will pay for metered water provided to the tenancy; and 3. The water supplier charges for water provided to the premises on a metered basis. (Note: not all councils charge for water on a metered basis).

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