Not every tenant in Queensland is responsible for paying charges relating to the water they use. However, landlords are permitted to pass on some water-related costs to their tenants.
Under the Residential Tenancy and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, landlords are permitted to pass on the cost of the water their tenant uses on the condition that:
- The property has its own individual water meter (or water is delivered by vehicle), and
- The property meets a number of criteria around the water efficiency of internal taps, toilets and shower heads, and
- The tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for water consumption.
If these conditions are not met, the landllord may still be able to charge for water used in excess of “reasonable” usage. The amount that is considered “reasonable” is set out and agreed in the tenancy agreement.
Note: Tenants can only be charged the water usage component of the bill – not the fixed charges or sewerage charges. Landlords cannot pass on any other fees and charges, including late payment fees.
Water efficiency requirements
A rental premises is considered water efficient if the water fixtures meet certain standards. For information on what the requirements are visit the Residential Tenancy Authority website.
Process for paying for water consumption
Tenants do not receive a water bill directly from the local water service provider. The landlord will receive and pay the bill, and then seek reimbursement from the tenant for the water consumption component of the bill.
The landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the water bill or other evidence of the amount of water consumed to verify the amount being charged. The tenant then has one month to pay the amount owing.
Access to concessions and hardship arrangements
As tenants are not direct customers of a water utility, they are not covered by the concessions and hardship arrangements that apply to home-owners.
If tenants are experiencing difficulties paying for their water usage, they may contact their landlord who may be willing to negotiate a payment arrangement.
The Residential Tenancy Authority (RTA) is a Queensland Government authority that provides information and services related to residential tenancies. They also provide a free and impartial dispute resolution service. For more information, call 1300 366 311 or visit the RTA website.
Tenants Queensland offers tenancy advice, support or individual advocacy through their Queensland Statewide Tenancy Advice and Referral Service (QSTARS). Visit their website or call them on 1300 744 263.
QCOSS has released a number of factsheets on essential services including information for tenants. You can print these factsheets to hand out to customers.