Who is responsible for wastewater bills?

Question from Alan Mamet updated on 16th January 2007:

I am in receipt of my rental property's bill from Manukau Water Ltd. The account is split for the first time into 2 parts. (1)"Water supplied= $35.36" (2)"Wastewater= $73.65"ie total a/c=$109.01. Tenant claims (2)above is landlord's responsibility to pay. In over 20years of renting properties I have never been expected to pay for(2)above and am of no intent to pay(2)now. Is it landlord's or tenant's responsibility to pay for "Wastewater"?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act sets out the rights and responsibilities of residential tenants and landlords. The Act doesn’t expressly mention waste water charges. However, in the past the District Court has held that the tenant can be held liable for waste water charges when they are calculated based on metered consumption and all of the following criteria are met.

  • 1. The premises have a separate water meter; and
  • 2. The written tenancy agreement states that the tenant shall pay for metered water; and
  • 3. The water supplier charges for water provided to the premises on a metered basis.
Because the charge introduced by the Manukau Water Limited is not based on metered consumption it is unlikely that tenants will be liable to pay. Ultimately it will be up to the Tenancy Tribunal to determine how the Act applies to this type of charge. If tenants and landlords have a dispute they cannot solve themselves, they can call the Department of Building and Housing for information and advice on 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62) or visit www.dbh.govt.nz.

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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