Who pays fixed costs?

Question from Delna updated on 26th August 2014:

Who pays for electricity and water fixed charges? Everytime I call the DBH I get a different response from different customer service people. I have a flat underneath my house with its own electricity and water meter. Thank you.

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) tenants are responsible for all outgoings that are exclusively attributable to their occupation of the premises or to their use of the facilities.  This includes charges for gas and electricity supplied to the property, and charges for the supply of water provided to the premises which are calculated on the basis of consumption.

The Act also states that a landlord is responsible for any costs associated with outgoings that are incurred regardless of whether there are tenants living in the premises, and for any 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 (e.g. where the charge is not calculated based on consumption).

If the rented premises has its own separate electricity meter, then the tenant can select their preferred supplier and will be responsible for the payment of the bill. If there is a single supply of electricity to a joint premises, and there is a check meter that separately records the units of electricity used by the tenant, then the landlord will be responsible for the fixed supply charges, but may recover the cost of units consumed by the tenant.

Fixed charges that appear on any water bill are the responsibility of the landlord as they are incurred whether or not the premises are occupied. As stated above, you can recover the volumetric charges from the tenant which are calculated on the basis of their consumption.

To discuss your situation further, or for information and advice about fixed supply charges you can call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) between 8.00am-5.30pm Monday to Friday to speak to a member of our Tenancy Advice Team

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.

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