ACT Utility Fees and Other Charges

During any tenancy, charges additional to rent arise including utilities, rates and taxes. In the ACT, the tenant is liable for consumption charges such as water so long as they are separately metered.

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 pays government rates and taxes?

The landlord is liable for all rates and taxes for the rented premises levied by a government or other public authority. These costs cannot be passed onto the tenant in any way.

What does the landlord need to pay for?

The landlord is liable for all of the following costs or charges:

  • all costs or charges for services until the beginning of the tenancy
  • all costs and charges after the end of the tenancy (unless the tenant has continued to use the services)
  • costs associated with installing any services, including water, gas, electricity, or telephone lines
  • consumption charges and costs for any services that are NOT separately metered
  • any other cost or charge the landlord agrees to pay for

What does the tenant need to pay for?

The tenant is liable for all of the following costs or charges:

  • consumption charges and costs for any services (e.g. water, gas, electricity, sewerage) that are separately metered for the tenant’s usage
  • connection costs for any services that are supplied in the tenant’s name (e.g. connection costs for a telephone line in the tenant’s name)

When is a service ‘separately metered’?
A service like water or electricity is ‘separately metered’ when the usage by the tenant can be measured distinctly from that of the landlord. This means that the tenant is not required to pay for any consumption charge if it includes usage by the landlord or a previous tenant.

In share accommodation, having separately metered usage can be difficult if the landlord and tenant live at the same premises and both use shared facilities. As separate measurement of the tenant’s usage may be impossible in this situation, it can be useful for the tenant and landlord to instead negotiate an increased rent at the beginning of the tenancy to cover estimated usage by the tenant.

Who is responsible for the reading and measurement of services?

The landlord is responsible for organising or conducting readings and measurements of all services, such as a water meter at the rented premises. If, however, a service is in the tenant’s name, then the tenant is responsible for organising any reading.

When a landlord has given the tenant a Notice to Vacate, they must organise for a reading or measurement of any relevant services before the notice expires. If the reading or measurement is not carried out in time, the landlord will be liable for all consumption costs since the last measurement or reading.

If a tenant moves out without giving the landlord any notice, they will be liable for the cost of any services up until the next reading or measurement occurs. The landlord must organise for the next reading to occur within a reasonable time of the tenant moving out.

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These legal guides provide a brief summary and introduction of the laws and regulations affecting share accommodation. They do not cover all cases in all legal jurisdictions and might not apply in your specific share accommodation situation. It is important that you use this information as a guide only and seek independent Legal Advice or consult the Relevant Acts. We do not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.