Next month the Christchurch City Council are introducing water charges for excess water use. What will this mean for landlords? Who will be responsible for these charges and how will landlords manage these new charges with their tenants? We’ll cover these questions here and share our suggestions on how to best manage these costs.
The main reasons the council are introducing these charges is to help reduce high demand on Christchurch’s water supply network and reduce investment requirements in infrastructure. The charges will apply to households that use, on average, more than 700 litres of water per day. From October, these households will pay a fixed rate of $1.35 per 1000 litres they use over the limit. However, they will not get charged until their bill reaches $25 and their average use is over 900 litres per day. Most households in Christchurch use about 480 litres per day so the majority of homes won’t be affected. Remissions will be available for households of nine or more people and for households that require high water use due to medical conditions.
The tenant is liable for the cost of their water use. However, the landlord is responsible for paying the water account and then requesting reimbursement from the tenant for this cost. The landlord will need to send the tenant a copy of the water bill on a regular basis to allow the tenant to manage this expense. If the water is disconnected due to non-payment of the water bill it’s the landlord’s responsibility to arrange reconnection.
The tenancy agreement should be clear on the conditions for water use and charges to avoid any misunderstandings between both parties. Clear written instructions should be provided to the tenant on how they can monitor their water usage, what it will cost them and when they can expect a water bill. Water use is measured by a water meter that’s usually located outside the home.
The introduction of these charges presents the need to check for any leaks on the property, as this is where the largest source of water wastage occurs. This may also be a good time to consider investing in water tanks. If the property has sufficient space for water tanks and adequate roof coverage for water collection a water collection system may add significant value to the property. A property with water tank supply will be appealing to prospective tenants looking for a property that allows increased water use, particularly over Summer, without the extra cost of water charges.
In most cases there will no charges to pass onto the tenant. However, it’s important to have appropriate measures in place to ensure requirements are met. For further information head to Christchurch City Council at https://ccc.govt.nz/services/water-and-drainage/water-supply/watercharges/