It is quite common for lessors and property agents to unlawfully charge tenants for water usage.  How do they get it away with it?  Particularly when there is a high demand for rental properties in the area, tenants are prepared to pay the water bill because if they don't, the lease will go to someone who is prepared to do so!  The other reason, of course, is lack of knowledge (this is where I was guilty!).

 

The following outlines the rules in this area as per the Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority:

Charge as shown on water bill

Can the tenant be charged?

State Bulk Water Charge

Yes. Where applicable, the bulk water rebate must also be passed onto the tenant

Water Usage Charge

Yes, PROVIDED THE CONDITION BELOW ARE MET*

Fixed Access Charge (including Water Access Charge and
Sewerage Access Charge)

No, the lessor must pay all fixed charges for water supply


*The water usage can only be passed on when ALL the following criteria are met:

  • the rental premises is  individually metered (or water is delivered by vehicle)
  • the rental premises is considered "water efficient":
    • internal cold water taps and single mixed tabs for bathtubs and appliances have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute
    • showerheads have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute
    • toilets have a duel flush function not exceeding 6.5L on a full flush and 3.5L on a half flush
  • The tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for water consumption

I've heard from a few tenants who decided to send their landlords a letter asking them to repay all these water charges and have been successful! 

 

For more information, visit the Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority website

 

DISCLAIMER: These facts and findings are based on information from Queensland authorities and Queensland rental properties.  The laws and regulations may be substantially different in other States and Territories