Who pays for water-tank usage?

Question from Carly updated on 2nd August 2010:

Yet another water question. We are on tank supply. The landlord added a clause to my tenancy agreement stating that I had to pay to refill the tank for water supply. I signed it, not aware of the laws. Having now researched and found the law requires Landlords to pay for water tank usage, I would like to know, does the landlord have to pay even though I signed an agreement stating I would pay?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

A tenant can be required to pay for water charges if the following three conditions are met: 

 

  1. • the premises have a separate water meter 
  2. • the written tenancy agreement states that the tenant shall pay for metered water
  3. • 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.

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 prohibits tenants from waiving their rights. This means that any clause of a tenancy agreement that purports to waive the tenant’s rights may be deemed unenforceable, and this will not be altered by the fact that those clauses are in writing and have been signed by the tenant. I suggest you discuss the cost of refilling the water tank with your landlord, 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 advice and information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 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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