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Must I send a copy of the Watercare bill to my tenant?

Friday, March 01, 2019

This week's question comes from Don (paraphrased):

My tenant is withholding payment of his water usage saying that I am required by the RTA to send him a copy of the original bill. Does that sound right to you? 

Our response:

No. No such requirement exists in the RTA. That said, we can't think of a reason why you wouldn't. 

S39(3) gives you the right to seek reimbursement from your tenant for the variable charge portion of your Watercare bill. Letting your tenant see the actual bill itself makes for an unequivocal case for reimbursement and avoids any back and forth hassle. From a privacy point of view, the bill contains nothing terribly sensitive. Your name and property address are on there, none of that should come as a surprise to your tenant. The monthly fixed-charge is stated. It is public information anyway. 

Seems to us you have nothing to lose and everything to gain in this instance. So while your tenant is technically incorrect insofar as the legal requirement argument, we would still recommend the same outcome. Life as a landlord is hard enough as it is, sometimes you just have to pick your battles. 

To make your life easier still, you can also set your tenant up as an authorised person on the account so that Watercare sends them the bill each month. Anything to lessen that to-do list is all good with us! 

Do you have any tenancy related questions? Write to us at admin@apia.org.nz or hit us up on our social channels here and here.


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