Who is responsible for payment of filling water tanks?

Question from Bronwyn updated on 18th November 2010:

Our family home is currently let to tenants. At the start of their tenancy, both (huge) rainwater tanks were completely full. (No other source of water.) If the tenants run out of water, who is required by law to pay for refilling the tanks? (During a previous tenancy, when we had a managing agent, the agent said that our obligation was only to ensure that the tanks were full at the start of the tenancy; thereafter, the tenant would have to pay.) Thank you for your assistance!

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

The water supplier provides water to the premises on a metered basis.

Landlords are required to ensure that there is a potable supply of water provided to the premises.  Water tanks usually don't have meters and therefore don't meet the criteria for charging for water.  Therefore the landlord may be responsible for the cost of refilling the water tank. 

However, where tenants use the tank water excessively they may be responsible for the cost of refilling.

Water tanks should be an appropriate size (5000 gallons or 22,500 litres), properly connected by a guttering system for adequate rainfall collection, and free of leaks or contamination.

I suggest you discuss the cost of refilling the water tank with your tenant, and if you are unable to agree on who is responsible you may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter.

To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Department of Building and Housing website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.


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