In New South Wales, tenants and landlords often have questions about who is responsible for paying the water bill in rental properties. According to NSW Fair Trading, tenants will generally pay for electricity, gas, oil, or water usage charges if the property is separately metered. However there are a few key points that need to be determined first before the water bill is paid.


Overview of Water Bill Responsibilities in NSW

In New South Wales, the responsibility for paying the water bill in rental properties depends on whether the property is separately metered or has an embedded network.

Separately Metered Properties

If the rental property has a separate water meter, the tenant is usually responsible for paying the water usage. This means that the tenant will receive the water bill directly from the water supply authority and is required to pay it on time.

Embedded Network Properties

In the case of embedded network properties, the responsibility for paying the water bill is usually shared between the landlord and the tenant. The landlord is responsible for the service charges, while the tenant is required to pay water usage charges.

Legislation Governing Water Bills in Rental Properties

Residential Tenancy Act

In New South Wales, the Residential Tenancy Act provides the legislation that governs the responsibility for paying water bills in rental properties. According to section 39 of the act, landlords are only permitted to pass the water usage charges onto the tenant in certain circumstances.

One of the circumstances where landlords can pass on the water charges to the tenant is when the rental property is separately metered. In this case, the landlord can pass on the charges to the tenant as long as the charges are calculated based on the amount of water the tenant uses.

The tenant is to be given a minimum of 21 days to pay the water bill, and a copy of the bill must be provided to verify the amount the water meter reading is to be charged.

If the rental property is not separately metered, the landlord cannot pass on the water usage charges to the tenant. The landlord is responsible for paying the water bill in full. However, the landlord can still include the cost of water usage in the weekly rent if it is stipulated in the tenancy agreement.

It is important to note that the legislation only applies to tenancy agreements signed from 23 March 2020. For tenancy agreements signed before this date, the rules around water usage charges may differ.

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Water Efficiency Standards

In New South Wales (NSW), rental properties must comply with the prescribed water efficiency measures before the owner can charge tenants for excess water usage. The standards require rental properties to have:

  • No leaking taps or toilets: No leaking taps or toilets anywhere on the property at the start of the tenancy and whenever the other water efficiency measures are installed, repaired or upgraded
  • Shower heads: Maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute
  • Internal cold water taps and single mixer taps for kitchen sinks or bathroom hand basins: Maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute
  • Dual flush toilets: From 23 March 2025 all toilets on the property are dual flush and have a minimum 3-star WELS rating

It’s important to note that if a rental property doesn’t meet the water efficiency standards, the owner cannot charge the tenant for excess water usage during the water billing periods. In this case, the owner is responsible for paying the entire water provider’s bill.

Tenants should also be aware that they can request a water efficiency audit from their Property Manager. This audit can identify any areas where water efficiency can be improved and may lead to lower water bills for both the tenant and owner.

Work with the Tenancy Experts

The responsibility of paying for water bills in a rental property in NSW depends on the specific circumstances of the property and the tenancy agreement. Whether you’re a landlord or a renter, if you’re looking for an award-winning property manager to work with, contact Leah Jay. 

Leah Jay is an expert team of property managers and would be happy to assist you with all queries around leasing and property management – contact the team here.

Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your situation, and for professional advice, seek out a financial adviser.