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During any tenancy, charges additional to rent arise including utilities, rates and taxes. In Queensland, the law requires tenants and landlords to pay for different charges. It is important to read this section carefully to see what you may be liable for under your agreement.
This guide covers landlords (or head-tenants) and tenants (or sub-tenants) in a Residential Tenancy. This applies to the majority of share accommodation and residential property rental situations. To confirm it covers your situation visit What is my share accommodation situation?
Who is responsible for Electricity, Gas and other Utilities (e.g. internet connection)?
The tenant is only required to pay for electricity, gas, and other utilities under two circumstances:
- Premises Separately Metered - A premises is separately metered if the usage by the tenant is measured distinctly from the usage of the landlord. For example, if the tenant and landlord live in the same house, then the usage by the tenant of electricity, gas, and other utilities would nee to be measured independently of the landlord’s usage for the tenant to be liable. The tenant cannot be made to pay any more than the amount charged by the provider of the service or utility.
- Agreement Includes Agreed Charges - if the premises are not individually metered, then the tenant can only be charged for any utilities if the tenancy agreement states the following:
- the particular utility or service being charged for, and
- how the apportionment for the utility or service will be calculated, and
- how the landlord will recover the expenses from the tenant.
The tenant cannot be made to pay any more than the amount agreed to.
The landlord must pay for any utilities or other services that do not fall into either of the two categories listed above.
Who pays for Water Charges?
The tenant can only be required to pay for water charges if the following 3 conditions are all met:
- Tenant Uses Water - tenant can only be charged for water if they actually use the water provided to the premises in any way.
- Water Individually Metered - the rented premises is individually metered for the supply of water OR water is supplied to the premises by a vehicle.
- Agreement Allows Water Charges - the agreement must state that the tenant will be liable for water charges.
If the requirements above are not met, then the landlord will be liable for all water charges. The tenant can only be liable for as much as the water supplier charges. The tenant cannot be forced to pay for fixed water charges.
What about Water Efficiency Requirements?
The tenant is only required to pay for all of the water charges if the premises is classified as water efficient. For a premises to be regarded as water efficient it must meet the following requirements:
- Toilets - all toilets must be dual flush toilets, and have the following maximum flush volumes:
- 6.5L for full flush
- 3.5L for half flush
- 4L average flush
- Shower Heads - all shower heads must have a maximum flow rate of 9L per minute
- Cold Water Taps - all internal cold water taps for hand basins, kitchen sinks, or laundry troughs must have a maximum flow rate of 9L per minute
If the premises does not meet the water efficiency requirements above, then the tenant can only 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
How are internet or phone bills paid?
How charges for internet and phone bills are paid should be agreed between the tenant and landlord at the beginning of the tenancy agreement. As it can often be difficult to determine how much of an internet or phone bill any one person is responsible for, the best approach is for the landlord and tenant to agree on an increase in rent to cover the tenant’s estimated usage.
Who pays government rates and land taxes?
The landlord is always responsible for the payment of taxes, levies, rates, or premiums associated with the premises imposed by local or state governments.
How do utility charges for tenants work in share accommodation?
When there are multiple co-tenants under the one residential tenancy agreement, they are all jointly responsible for paying bills, costs, and charges that tenants are normally liable for. This means, for example, that if the electricity charges for a share house occupied by co-tenants under one residential tenancy agreement is separately metered, then all the co-tenants are responsible together for paying the electricity charges. It is up to the co-tenants to agree between themselves on how the costs of the charges are shared.
In a sub-tenancy, the head-tenant is the landlord to the sub-tenant. Therefore, if the sub-tenant is renting a room in the head-tenant’s house, the sub-tenant can only be required to pay for water, electricity, gas and oil charges if they are separately metered.