A simple enough question that has taken quite a bit of digging around to get an answer!
The increases in water usage charges in Queensland has prompted many investors to question whether they have the right to charge their tenants for the water that they use.
There are three parts to the answer:
the property must be individually metered for water,
the property must be certified as water efficient by a plumber, and
the lease agreement must state that the tenant must pay for water.
The first point is the most important one. If you decide that you do wish to pass on the charges to your tenant, the first thing to check would be whether the property is individually metered and although this shouldn’t normally be an issue with houses, it may not be as straightforward with duplexes and townhouses. If it is not individually metered, the cost of the water usage cannot be passed on to the tenant apart from the standard excess.
You should also talk to your property manager about the practicalities of introducing a charge for the water usage.
The next step is to have a plumber certify that the investment property is water efficient. There is a form available that can used by a plumber to provide this certification.
Keep in mind that the Water and Sewerage access charges are no longer charged with general rates levied by the relevant council but are now included with the water charges and it is our understanding that these access charges must be met by the owner and cannot be passed on to the tenant.
This article has been provided based on our interpretation of the legislation that applies.