Is your rental property water efficient?

Is your rental property water efficient?

Accepting the water consumption charges seems to be necessary, without question these days. I’ve just moved, and like all tenants, accepted these costs because there was a tick in the tenancy agreement saying as a tenant I am liable for these charges, even if the property isn’t water efficient?

I recorded my test and now will show you how to put your simple test together. Run your tests and record the “evidence” proving the efficiency of your rental property. I used items from cupboards and my mobile phone, discovering the voice activation recording along the way.

Decisions are published by the Tribunal and the citations are released to the public to read or refer to. A brief description has been given beside the link. Please feel free to download the ones that could help you or have a read and see what the Tribunal ordered or dismissed.

Aussie Renters Water Flow Test – 9L per minute

The legislation states that the property must have water efficient devices installed, limiting the flow of water to 9L per minute before the water use/consumption charges can be passed on to the tenant.

Our calculations show you how to conduct a 15 second test/recording of the water flow at your rental property. If the property proves to be not water efficient, process our letter advising your landlord. Once you have sent the letter, record it on our TERMS App (download a copy) using Notes form  to record the information. If there is a dispute over water charges, you can inform the Tribunal at your hearing, the precise date you provided written advise the landlord. 

Keep a record of your water meter reads using our TERMS App on your mobile phone taking a picture of the meter read. Manage your entire tenancy using our managment system that we have developed to make renting easier! Our Entry Package introductory letter (part of the Entry Inspection in the App) states the water status quo at entry and another letter addresses any unexpected spikes in water use and you are aware of this due to taking regular water meter reads. If there is a water leak and you observe it via water meter reads or seeing a section of the garden and fence green with mould, you are responsible for preventing any additional charges by reporting your findings. Our letter formalises your findings in writing and proving you were proactive at preventing the water loss.

To save wasting anymore water than necessary, we will calculate a quarter of the 9 litres so it is 15 seconds of water flow and recording. I also poured the water onto the plants when finished.

9L divided by 4 = 2.25L 

60 seconds divided by 4 = 15 seconds

Grab a measuring jug and a bowl 

Many plastics have the amount they hold stamped on the bottom and my clear plastic container for rice holds exactly 2.25L!

Measure 2.25L (4 x 500ml and 1 x 225 ml) and pour it into the bowl or container

Label a piece of sticky tape or a bandaid and stick it right at the water line

Using your mobile device, start recording and flick/turn on the water full force. Record the water flow for 15 seconds

Here’s the video of my water flow test!

What to do if the property does not have water efficient devices installed?

The legislation states the tenant must pay for water use/consumption charges as long as the property has water efficient devices installed restricting the water flow to 9L per minute and the property must also be seperately metered.

You must be given a copy of the water provider’s notice advising the charges. At no point do you pay more than what was charged by the water provider. If being billed by the agent or landlord, the tax invoices must be forwarded with a few months of being received and you should be given time to pay the invoice. Here’s an interactive copy of our Gold Coast water charges.

If you discover your property is not water efficient, process our letter and send it to the landlord. There is another letter for requesting the notice, if you realise that you have not received the current charges. You can add the “reduction of water charges” paragraph if you would like to reduce you chrges because you water the landlords garden and lawns as per the tenancy agreement.

Queensland renters: must pay for bulk and usage charges only and if the property does not have water efficient devices installed, “reasonable water use” is regarded as the charges applicable. The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009 s. 22 state what the prescribed water efficiency requirements

Helpful links:

A timely reminder about water charging – read what Ray White are telling their clients

Paying water charges (NSW Fair Trading)

Rental properties: Water efficiency and passing on usage charges (Allianz Insurance) 

Utilities, telephone, internet and television in rental properties (Consumer Affairs Victoria)

Water charging fact sheet (RTA)

Water efficiency certificates – plumbers advertising $110 for Water Efficiency Certificates (Qld)

Water Rating (Australian Government)

Water usage calculator (Hunter Water)


These are the “highlights” of hearings at the Tribunal. We have provided a couple for you to read and pick up on what the Tribunal actually want as much as need to ensure your bond money is returned. Queensland has a few more as “reasonable water use” is applied when properties are not water efficient.

New South Wales

[2015] NSWCATCD 55  – Tenancy agreement was ticked stating no water use charges however tenant was charged water and NCAT ordered for the charges to be refunded to the tenant.


[2015] QCAT 51 – Order to pay water consumptions charges dismissed due to lack of evidence proving the property had water efficient devices installed.

[2014] QCAT 450 – Applicant could not prove water efficient devices were installed however the tenant was fortunate this application was dismissed as they did not provide evidence proving the property was not water efficient.

[2012] QCAT 687 – Reasonable amount of water use and payment of excess water use. This documents shows the way the Tribunal handle water use charges however this one is old and outdated but does outline the arguments put forward. Some of the property was water efficient and the tenant had paid some water bills but not others. The tenant believed the excess was being paid not the entire consumption or use.

[2014] QCATA 187 – Reasonable water consumption agreed to 25kL per month at the commencement of tenancy agreement however the property was not water efficient. Tenants sourced their own water efficiency certificate and eventually made an application within 6 months of advising the breach. This document is part of the Appeals process and the Tribunal’s Order is on the first page of the document. 


[2018] VCAT 1441 – A “check water meter” was installed instead of a seperate meter however it was not installed or approved by the water provider and the claim for the tenant to pay for water use was dismissed. 

[2018] VCAT 1252 – A water leak and delays with remedying the leak, both landlord and tenant responsible for the delays. 

Legislation and Regulations

New South Wales

Section xx – Water xx


Reg 22 Prescribed water efficiency requirements s. 166(8) of the Act (Regulations)

Posted by Anne Parker