Utility Bills – Who Pays What in Rental Properties?
When it comes to paying for utilities in a rented property, it’s important both the landlord and tenant have a clear understanding as to who pays for what.
Here, we will explain the different circumstances and obligations for landlords and tenants, as determined by the Residential Tenancies Act.
Initial Connection Fees
Initial connection fees are charged when a service is connected to a brand new property for the very first time. For all initial connection charges, the landlord is responsible for payment, including electricity, water, and gas services.
Separate & Shared Meters
Depending on what type of property you live in, and how the property or apartment block is set up, will determine if you have a separate meter or a shared meter.
A separate meter measures the utility supply and usage for an individual property only, whereas a shared meter takes into account the consumption of utilities for more than one property, such is the case in some apartment blocks.
It’s important to note not all apartment blocks have shared meters. To find out if you have a separate or shared meter, you can contact the distribution company directly, your Property Manager or the Owners Corporation for your property.
If a property is separately metered, the tenant is responsible for paying:
• all charges for the supply or use of electricity and gas (including supply charges and reconnection fees)
• all charges based on the amount of water consumed (with the exception of service charges and/or reconnection fees)
• all sewerage disposal charges
Where a property is separately metered, the vendor is responsible for paying:
• service charges and/or reconnection fees for water supply (with the exception of water consumption charges)
If a property has a shared meter, the vendor is responsible for all service charges, reconnection fees and consumption for that property. This can include water, electricity or gas. As per the Residential Tenancies Act, the tenant is not liable for any costs in this regard.
Tenants are responsible for all charges relating to the supply and use of a telephone at any rented property. This includes all service fees, call charges, equipment, rental charges and connection fees, including the initial connection fee to set up the telephone line.
If the property has been newly built, or where there has not been a connection for some time, it may be necessary for the line to be laid or re-installed. This is payable by the tenant and costs cannot be recovered from the landlord.
Tenants Moving In
When tenants move into a rental property, it is their responsibility to have the utility services reconnected into their name. Tenants should give the utility providers 48 hours notice before they require use of the utilities. The utility provider then arranges for the service to be connected and for the meter to be read.
Tenants Moving Out
There are no disconnection fees when a tenant moves out of a property. However, tenants must tell the utility providers when they are moving out so they can arrange for a final meter reading and disconnection of utilities, including the telephone. Tenants should give 48 hours notice before they wish for the utilities to be disconnected.
Understanding Your Obligations
Understanding who is responsible for what can sometimes be confusing. For more information about your obligations as either a landlord or a tenant, please feel free to contact our office on 1300 726 082 and ask to speak with a Property Portfolio Manager who will be able to answer any queries you may have.