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Who pays for the bills in a rental property

8 May 2019

Photo: by Jordan Rowland

Landlords and tenants are both responsible for paying bills.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act tenants are responsible for all charges that can be exclusively attributed to their use while occupying the premises. This includes charges for utilities, electricity, gas and water charges.

The landlord is responsible for any charges that are incurred regardless of whether the property is tenanted or not. These will include insurance premiums, council rates, fixed water charges for supply of water to the premises.

Common facilities

The landlord is responsible for any charges incurred for common facilities or shared by different tenancies.

Water charges

The landlord will be responsible for fixed charges appearing on any water bills. These charges will be incurred regardless if the property is occupied by tenants or not.

If the property has its own water meter or the water supplier providers water to the property on a metered basis or the charges can be exclusively attributed to the property, then the tenant will be responsible for their own consumption of water.

The landlord is responsible for any water meter readings in between tenancies.

Usually, the water account is in the landlord's name. They must pay for the water charges and then seek reimbursement from the tenant. A 14-day notice to remedy can be served if tenants don't pay their bill on time.

Learn more about water charges

Wastewater charges

The landlords are usually responsible for fixed wastewater charges. If the supplier can calculate the breakdown of wastewater usage, then the landlord can ask the tenant to pay for the wastewater they produce.

Tank water

If the water supply is from a tank, the landlord provides a full tank typically at the start of a tenancy and the tenant will cover any refills. The tenant should also leave a full tank when vacating. Although landlords are generally responsible for general maintenance of the tank and pump, the tenants can be asked to cover the cost of repairs if they did the damage.


If the tenanted property has its own electricity meter, then the tenant can choose their own electricity provides and will be responsible for paying their bills.

If however there is a single supply of electricity to joint premises and there is a separate check meter that records the tenant's power usage separately, then the landlord would be responsible for fixed supply charges and the tenant responsive for their cost of units consumed.

Telephone and Internet

Any costs that are a result of living in the house, then the tenant has to pay them.


Both the landlord and the tenants are responsible for their own insurance. The landlord pays typically insurance premiums for the house, and the tenant covers their personal content insurance.

Body corporate levies

If the property is part of a unit title, the body corporate levies are covered by the landlord.

Learn more about body corporate rules


If the gas is the main form of heating water and cooking food, then the landlord provides access to a gas supply. In cases where gas is supplied in large gas bottles, the landlord is responsible for providing a gas cylinder and paying for any hire charges of the gas bottles (if any). The tenant is responsible for the cost of the gas used.

Learn more about gas payments

It's essential to record any arrangements in the tenancy agreements to avoid any future disputes.

Learn more about repairs and maintenance and your responsibilities

The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice, you should seek independent legal counsel. does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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What the community has to say
  • SL

    Seeking clarification on types of water charges and who pays. Waste volumetric charges? (Tenant our landlord)

  • JR

    Landlord pays the line or fixed charges. Tenant the variable or usage. In Auckland, the landlord can pay the fixed charges in one lump sum (less than $300) and have the monthly/bi-monthly bills sent directly to the tenant to pay. In Tauranga, not as easy; the council doesn't offer this option but does split the fixed and variable/usage - only to wack GST on top of the combined. A bit messy. And in places like Wellington, the landlord pays the lot because it's absorbed in to your property rates.

    Hope that helps
    Jonathan Roe

  • SS

    Anyone have any advice on the end of tenancy cleaning terms? I’m getting slammed with what I think is excessive amount but at the same not crazy enough to go to tribunal? They aren’t willing to meet me half way? What can I do besides tribunal?

  • LK

    I have never had to pay water rates before at the previous rentals Never heard of this I thought this all is covered in the rent

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