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When You Shouldn’t Pay Your Water Bill

If you are a tenant or a landlord, you may be paying more for your water consumption than you should be.

Most landlords would have been told by their agent that if their properties are not ‘water efficient’ then their tenants will not have to pay for water usage.

This has given rise to two pervasive misconceptions:

  1. Landlords are required to have their properties inspected by a plumber to certify that the property is water efficient, often then being told that they require new cisterns and taps to be installed;
  2. If a property is not certified as water efficient, tenants are free to use as much water as they like, and will not have to pay for it;

Is your property water efficient?

You do not need a plumber to tell you if your property is water efficient. If you have a bucket and can do some grade 8 maths you can find out for yourself:

The requirements to be water efficient are as follows:

For Showers and any internal tap (including over the laundry tub), turn the tap on fully and measure the amount of water which comes out in 10 seconds, then multiply this by 6. If this number is less than 9 Litres, congratulations, these outlets are all water efficient.

If your taps are not efficient, there is no need to replace them.  You can install a flow restrictor for under $10.  It just takes a few minutes work to meet the requirements.

For a toilet the process is a little more complicated to work out manually. First it must be dual flush (head to Bunnings). To be water efficient full flush must use less than 6.5 Litres, and the half flush less than 3.5L, and the average of the two, according to the following formulae must be less than 4 Litres.

Average Flush = Full Flush + (4 x Half Flush)
          5

So how do you measure the volume of a flush?

First turn off the tap which provides water to the toilet cistern, remove the lid of the cistern and mark the height of the water on the inside of the cistern. Press the Full Flush button, then refill to the original height measuring the amount of water required.

That’s it! If you’re a landlord, and you meet this requirement, you can confidently and proudly tell your managing agent that your property is water efficient.

It also needs to be stated in your rental agreement that tenants are to pay for their water usage, so you may need to wait until the lease is renewed.

If you are a tenant, and you find out that your home is not efficient. You should speak to your property manager about whether you should be paying for your water usage, and if not, you could, perhaps be compensated accordingly.

If the premises does not meet the water efficiency requirements above, then the tenant can be charged for a reasonable quantity of water supplied to the premises. The following factors are considered in determining a reasonable quantity:

  • water usage information for the local government area
  • size of the premises
  • terms of the tenancy agreement
  • whether there are water saving devices installed on the premises
  • number of people occupying the premises

So become water wise and you may just help your hip pocket as well as the environment.