Water charges confusion

Ann Marie asks:
(updated on Friday, May 04th 2018)

Please can you clear up something that is confusing.

We have been given conflicting information from two different agents.

Currently, a well know real estate agency manages our property. The have been charging tenants for a portion of the water and we pay a portion.

Our properties are units. The water metre is shared.

HOWEVER, another property manager who we are thinking of switching to has told us that this is actually illegal and tenants have been taking landlords to tribunal and getting their water reimbursed.

I think it's odd to not pay for a utility you use (water) so surely, in a world where we want to conserve water our government would let this be the case. People are far more careful with a resource they pay for....

SO... WHO IS CORRECT? and if we have been given incorrect information from our management company are they responsible for any action against us as we acted in faith, on their advice.



Our Experts Answer:

A landlord can on-charge to a tenant the costs related to the tenant’s own water usage. Under section 40(4)(c) of the Residential Tenancies Act a tenant is responsible for utilities and “supply of water if the water supplier charges for water provided to the premises on the basis of consumption”.

In other words, a landlord has to be able to establish what portion of the water charges invoice relates specifically to that tenant’s premises. If you can measure it, you can charge. But if the tenant’s actual consumption cannot be distinguished (because there are two properties on the one water meter), you cannot charge the tenant.

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