Water bills can be complex and are often misunderstood by landlords and tenants alike. Water suppliers around the country also bill differently so what you pay for depends on where you live and who your supplier is. In this article we hope to offer clarity on your responsibilities.
As a landlord you are required to ensure there is an adequate supply of water to your rental property. If there is no reticulated water supply, you must provide means for collection and storage of water such as a tank.
Reticulated or town water supply
In New Zealand, landlords are responsible for paying any fixed water charges billed by a water supplier. You pay these whether your property is occupied or not.
If water to your property is billed by consumption, your tenant is responsible for paying metered water that is directly attributable to the property. If there is not an individual meter to the premises, the landlord pays for the metered water as well as the fixed charge.
Some water suppliers now include calculations for wastewater usage. Wastewater is the water that goes down your drains, such as from the shower and toilet.
Tenants may be charged for wastewater that is directly attributable to the tenants’ usage, for example, where the wastewater charge is billed as a percentage of metered usage.
Landlords pay fixed charges for wastewater including where charges are billed as a fixed annual rate divided by twelve.
If water supply to the property is from a tank, landlords should provide a full tank at the start of the tenancy and the tenant organises and pay for refills (if required).
Reducing water consumption
There are a few things you can do at your property to help reduce water consumption.
- Install water saving shower-heads
- Install single lever mixer taps and aerators to reduce flow volumes
- Be pro-active responding to plumbing issues and repairs, including dripping taps
- Ensure that your water meter is in good condition and request a repair if it’s not
- Install a rainwater tank for use in the garden.
A small investment in installing these products can drastically reduce your water bill.