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Benchmark - Real Estate Cases & Commentary
Tenancy matters
    •  Utilities
        -  Water usage
            >  Liability of tenant

Liability of tenant 

A tenant leased premises from November 2008 to August 2010. Additional clause 2 of the Residential Tenancy Agreement provided that the tenant would be responsible for water usage. After the termination of the tenancy, the tenant applied to the Tribunal to have the bond returned to him. The landlord opposed this, saying that the tenant owed money for water usage.

The tenant claimed that the landlord misrepresented the quality of water supplied to the premises, that the water was unfit for domestic purposes, and that the landlord had known this. The tenant also claimed that the water meter on the premises was faulty and gave a higher reading than it should have. The tenant claimed that these considerations warranted a reduction of rent over the period of the tenancy of $10 per week.

The Tribunal found that the landlord had a reasonable belief that the water was fit for domestic use, and that the decrease in quality of the water had happened for a short period, and was outside the control of the landlord.

Further, the Tribunal found that the water was supplied to the premises by Council, and that it was measured and billed by Council according to its usual procedures. There was no evidence that the water meter had malfunctioned. Therefore, on the balance of probabilities, the water shown by the meter as having been used, had been used by the tenant.

Therefore, the Tribunal upheld the landlord’s claim.

Auton v The Thomas Family Superannuation Benefits Fund [2010] NSWCTTT 519