Northern Territory Utility Fees and Other Charges
During any tenancy, charges additional to rent arise including utilities, rates and taxes. In the Northern Territory, the tenant is liable for consumption charges such as water so long as they are individually metered and the tenancy agreement requires the tenant to pay them.
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 for government rates, charges, or 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.
Water, gas, and electricity charges
The tenant is only responsible for paying water, gas, and electricity charges if the following conditions are met:
- the tenancy agreement requires the tenant to pay the charges, AND
- the tenant’s usage is ‘individually metered’, OR
- the tenancy agreement lists which charges the tenant must pay, provides a mathematical method for apportioning the charge to the tenant, and states how the tenant pays the landlord for the charge.
When is a service ‘individually metered’?
A service like water or electricity is ‘individually metered’ when the usage by the tenant can be measured distinctly from that of the landlord, or another person like a previous tenant.
Utility fees in share accommodation
In share accommodation, having individually metered usage can be difficult if the landlord and tenant live at the same premises and both use shared facilities. It may be more convenient to use the second option listed above by stating a method in the tenancy agreement for apportioning utility charges.
For example, if only the tenant and landlord live in the same house, it may be fair to apportion 50% of utility charges to the tenant.
What about internet or phone bills?
Internet or phone bills should be paid by the person who holds the contract with the service provider. For example, if the phone or internet account is in the tenant’s name, then the bills should be paid by the tenant. If, however, the bills are in the landlord’s name, then the landlord must pay them. The landlord cannot require the tenant to pay any part of those bills.
If the phone or internet bills are in the landlord’s name, then it may be a good idea to include a cost estimate for the tenant’s use as part of the rent. This should be negotiated between the tenant and landlord before entering an agreement.
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.