Blog: Water tips for tenants in Queensland

Not every tenant in Queensland pays for their water use. Your landlord or property agent may pass on the cost of the water you use if:

  • your home has its own individual water meter (or water is delivered by vehicle); and
  • your internal taps and toilets are ‘water efficient’; and
  • your tenancy agreement confirms that you must pay for water use.

You can only be charged the cost of the water used. Your landlord must cover the cost of everything else, including land rates, fixed water access charges, and sewerage charges.

Even if you don’t usually pay for water, your landlord can charge you for any water used over an agreed ‘reasonable’ amount. This amount must be agreed up front and included in your tenancy agreement.

Below are some tips on your rights as a tenant when it comes to water, and how to manage your water costs.

What to check before you sign the lease

Check for water efficiency

Are all showerheads and internal cold water taps water efficient? Do toilets have full and half flush options? You can only be charged for water if the premises is water efficient and this must be noted on the Entry Condition report when you enter into the lease.

Water efficient products must have a Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) rating of at least three stars or equivalent. You can request proof of the water efficiency of the premises from landlord or property agent. They can provide this in the form of plumbing reports or receipts, packaging, warranties, or instruction manuals for water efficient devices purchased. The landlord cannot charge you for the purchase or installation of water efficient devices.

For more information about water efficiency, visit waterrating.gov.au.

Confirm what is ‘reasonable’ usage

Even if the premises is not water efficient, your tenancy agreement may still include a requirement that you pay for any water used over a ‘reasonable’ amount. To determine what is ‘reasonable’ ask your local water provider for information on the average water usage in the area for households of your size.

Read your water meter

Make a note of the reading on your water meter when you move in and out of a property. You should record this on your Entry and Exit Condition Reports. Watch this video from urban Utilities on how to read a water meter.

Managing water costs as a tenant

Check how much you need to pay

As a tenant you will not receive a water bill directly from the water provider. The landlord will pay the bill and ask you to reimburse the cost of water used.

They must provide you with a copy of the water bill or some other evidence of the amount of water used. Once you receive the invoice you have one month to pay.

Your landlord can only charge you for the water used and cannot pass on any other fees or charges such as fixed charges or interest on late payments.

Keep track of when bills are due

If you live in South East Queensland your landlord will receive a water bill every quarter. In other areas it may be less frequent. Check with the local water provider what their billing schedule is so you can keep track of when bills should arrive.

Keep track of water use

The only way you can verify your water usage is by checking your water meter. It is important to monitor your water usage to ensure you pick up any concealed leaks as early as possible. Contact your landlord if you notice that the amount owing for water use has increased for no apparent reason.

Use water efficiently

You can save water, and money, by:

  • limiting showers to four minutes
  • only using the washing machine or dishwasher for full loads and always using the shortest, most efficient cycle; or
  • upgrading your washing machine or dishwasher to a more efficient model. You may be able to access a No Interest Loan (NILS) to upgrade your appliances.
  • Visit the No Interest Loans website:
  • nils.com.au.

Contact your landlord

Because you do not have a direct account with a water provider, you are not eligible for government concessions or hardship programs that might be available to property owners.

If you are having difficulties paying for water, contact your landlord or property agent. They may be able to offer an alternative payment arrangement.

More information

The Residential Tenancy Authority (RTA) provides information and services related to residential tenancies. Call 1300 366 311 or visit rta.qld.gov.au

For advice, support or individual advocacy on a tenancy issue call Tenants Queensland on 1300 744 263 or visit tenantsqld.org.au.

Watch our webinar on the rights, roles and responsibilities for tenants when it comes to water charging.

Check out our tips on what to do if you have high water bills here. For other helpful tips, tricks, and resources visit our Energy and Water section.