For people who live in the driest continent on Earth, Australians have had a very relaxed attitude to water conservation. 95% of the population live within an hour’s drive of the coast, and most have access to reticulated water. Although there have been water restrictions during drought conditions, a return to abundant rainfall usually saw a return to old, wasteful habits in the cities and large provincial towns. In the Outback it’s a different story, as access to clean, fresh water is much more restricted, and is treated with respect. The relaxed attitude changed during the ten year drought that broke earlier this year, and access to inexpensive water is just a fond memory.
This becomes particularly pertinent for landlords of rental premises. In Queensland, landlords can pass on the full costs of water consumption to their tenants provided certain criteria are met. Landlords should discuss this with the rental property management Brisbane agency looking after their property.
There are three criteria that allow landlords (lessors) to pass on these charges. The first is that the premises be either individually metered or the water is delivered by vehicle. The second is that the rental premises are water efficient and the third that the tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for water consumption.
A water efficient rental premises is essential to protect the tenant from having to pay for water consumption they cannot control. Internal cold water taps and single mixer taps (excluding bathtubs and taps for appliances) and showerheads must meet the standard of a maximum flow rate of nine litres per minute. Toilets should be dual flush with specific flow rates.
At the start of the tenancy agreement, the water charging arrangements should be negotiated and the presence of water efficient devices noted on the Entry Condition Report. To demonstrate the presence of water efficient devices, landlords or agents may provide copies of plumbing reports, receipts, packaging and warranties or instruction manuals for taps and showerheads.
It should be noted that water billing periods will not match the start and finish of tenancy agreements, so meter readings should be taken on both occasions. The lessor will receive and pay the account then give the tenants a copy to verify the amount they will pay. The tenants are not charged direct by the water authorities.
The tenant has one month to pay and any disputes about payment can be referred to the Residential Tenancies Authority Dispute Resolution Service. However, if a property manager Brisbane is managing the tenancy, everything should be noted on the tenancy agreement.
The most important thing to remember is to have all the terms of water charging noted on the tenancy agreement at the outset. With this document signed by all parties, everyone’s responsibilities are clear.
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