Western Australia Utility Fees and Other Charges
During any tenancy, charges additional to rent arise including utilities, rates and taxes. In Western Australia, 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 water, gas, and electricity charges?
Whether the landlord or tenant pays for water, gas, and electricity charges depends on how those fees are measured. Tenants are only liable under either of 2 circumstances:
- Premises Separately Metered - if the tenant’s usage of the utility is measured separately to that of the landlord, then the tenant will be liable for all supply charges. The tenancy agreement should state whether the premises is separately metered for each utility. If the landlord also lives at the premises, and there is no way to measure the tenants utility usage separately from that of the landlord, then the landlord will be liable for all of the charges.
- Agreement Allocating Charges - alternatively, the landlord and tenant can agree in writing to a method of calculating the tenant’s liability for utility charges. The standard form tenancy agreement includes a section for this. This is a good option for premises where usage cannot be separately metered. For example, if the tenant and landlord both live at the premises, they could agree to each pay 50% of the charges.
In all other circumstances, the landlord is liable to pay for the utility charges.
For each utility charge the tenant is liable for, the landlord should ensure that the tenant receives a copy of the bill from the supplier and a written statement calculating the tenant’s liability according to the original agreement.
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, a good approach is for the landlord and tenant to agree on an increase in rent to cover the tenant’s estimated usage.
How do utility charges 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 electricity is separately metered for a share house occupied by multiple co-tenants under one residential tenancy agreement, 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 a sub-tenant is renting a room in the head-tenant’s house, the sub-tenant can only be required to pay for water, electricity, and gas charges if they are separately metered, or if the sub-tenant and head-tenant have a written agreement about sharing costs.
Who pays government rates and land taxes?
The landlord is responsible for any government rates or land taxes. If the tenant has paid any of these rates or taxes then the landlord must reimburse them.
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.