Tenants can be required to pay for electricity, gas and water supplied to their rented premises.
When you need to pay You can only be required to pay for electricity, gas or water where your tenancy agreement states this, and:
- the premises are individually metered; or
- your tenancy agreement sets out the service for which the charges are payable, the way charges will be calculated, and how you are to pay this charge to the landlord.
You can contact the utility supplier or your landlord if you are unsure whether your premises are individually metered. In this factsheet, a reference to a landlord generally includes a real estate agent or other person acting on the instructions of the landlord.
At the start of the tenancy
Before you move into a property, you can contact a power supplier to arrange for the electricity to be connected. You are responsible for paying the connection fee. If the electricity is already connected when you move in, you can arrange for an account to be opened in your name from the start of your tenancy. Water and sewerage services usually remain connected.
At the end of the tenancy
A landlord can keep part or all of a security deposit (bond) to cover unpaid electricity, gas or water charges owed by the tenant. See the DCLS ‘Security deposits’ factsheet for more information.
You can disconnect the electricity after the landlord or agent has conducted the final inspection, which must take place within 3 business days of the tenancy ending. If you were provided with a full gas bottle at the start of the tenancy, you need to ensure it is full at the end of the tenancy.
Some tenancy agreements may require a tenant to pay for water charges beyond a certain amount of usage, for example usage beyond 500 kilolitres a year.
A failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply to the premises is considered to be an emergency repair. If the fault does not lie with the utility provider (for example, a power outage is affecting a whole area), you should notify your landlord in writing. See the DCLS ‘Repairs and maintenance’ factsheet for more information.
Share house arrangements
All tenants named on the tenancy agreement are liable to pay for utilities. Even if you have paid your share, if a utility bill goes unpaid, the landlord can pursue one or all tenants named on the tenancy agreement.
If disputes occur about individual usage and you have not been able to resolve the dispute through discussion, you can contact a Community Justice Centre, which offers a free mediation service.
You may also be able to recover unpaid utilities from a non-paying housemate by making an application to the Small Claims Division of the Local Court.
If there is a dispute about a utility bill
You can request a copy of a utility bill from the account holder, or from the utility supplier if you are the account holder. A landlord or a tenant can apply to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a decision on what portion of a utility charge a tenant is required to pay.
Darwin Community Legal Service
Phone: (08) 8982 1111
Freecall: 1800 812 953
Community Justice Centre
Phone: 1800 000 473
Darwin Community Legal Service 2015: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to DCLS, as the publisher.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as at September 2014.