Who pays for water usage for lawn maintenance?

Terri asks:
(updated on Friday, August 28th 2009)

Our water and trash are together on one bill, we contacted the landlord asking for help with possibly half the payment of water/trash bill. We felt this was fair because, he planted a new lawn after our moving in and asked us to help him maintain it. He would not have any part in the bill and said "do what you need to do!" So, we stopped watering it! Now he has received a letter from the city to maintain the yard that this was a city ordinance and he would be fined if not complied with. Of course, he forwarded the letter to us.... Now, what should we do?

Our Experts Answer:

Tenants are responsible for keeping the property reasonably clean and tidy. This generally includes mowing lawns and weeding gardens. Landlords are responsible for maintaining the property, which may include maintaining a new lawn. Tenants may be required to pay water charges if:

• the premises have a separate water meter
• the written tenancy agreement states that the tenant shall pay for metered water
• the water supplier provides water to the premises on a metered basis

If all three conditions are met but you consider that your landlord should be contributing to the water bill, you may wish to try speaking to your landlord again. It may be helpful to establish the amount of the bill you consider to be attributable to the maintenance of the lawn, and to remind the landlord of their responsibility to maintain the premises.

If you and your landlord are still unable to reach an agreement about who is responsible for maintaining the lawn, and for the additional cost incurred by watering the lawn, you could make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter. To discuss your situation further, 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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