Utilities, telephone, internet and television in rental properties

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Water

If the property has its own meter, the tenant must pay:

  • for water consumption, and
  • the sewage disposal charge

unless the landlord has agreed to pay these charges.

If an agreement has been reached for the landlord to pay these charges, this agreement should be included in the lease as a special condition.

The landlord must pay all other charges related to water supply and sewerage or drainage services, although different rules may apply when a tank is the main source.

For water billing:

  • if a new tenant moves in, the landlord should provide the relevant water corporation with their details
  • if a tenant leaves, the tenant should notify the water corporation of the date they will vacate the property so a final reading can be done and the bill sent to them (if the property is separately metered). Once this has been done, billing defaults to the landlord until the water corporation receives notification of new occupants.

If either the tenant or landlord pays a charge that is not their responsibility, they can request reimbursement using a Notice to landlord of rented premises (Word, 4 MB) or Notice to tenant/s of rented premises (Word, 456 KB).

If there is a dispute over who should pay, either party can apply for a ruling from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Efficient water appliances, fittings and fixtures

If any water appliances, fittings and fixtures need to be replaced, the landlord must replace them with items that meet minimum efficiency standards.

For more information about water-efficient products and labelling schemes, visit the Australian Government’s Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Scheme website or call 1800 218 478.

For more information on sustainable renting, visit the Sustainability Victoria website.

Electricity, gas, bottled gas and oil

The landlord must pay all installation and initial connection costs for electricity, gas and oil supply. If there is a separate meter, the tenant must pay for all other charges, unless otherwise agreed. If there is no separate meter, the landlord must pay.

Where bottled gas is provided, the landlord pays for the supply or hire of bottles and the tenant pays for the gas. A landlord must reimburse the tenant for the costs of any utilities for which the landlord is liable.

Director of Housing tenants may be charged separately for expenses such as heating and laundry.

Telephone and internet

There are two costs for connecting a property to a fixed telephone line (landline) for phone or internet use: the line connection and a general connection fee. 

Tenants are responsible for paying the general connection fee (unless otherwise agreed with the landlord) and will usually be billed for this on their initial telephone bill.

If the property is new or has been unoccupied for some time, it may not have a line connection. Tenants should check this before they sign the lease. If a line connection is required, tenants and landlords may negotiate who pays for this. In deciding who pays, considerations include whether:

  • there were phone outlets in the property when the tenant first inspected it
  • the landlord or agent informed tenants that the property did not have a telephone line connection
  • a line connection was mentioned in the rental advertisement or is referred to in the lease.

If there is a dispute over who should pay for a line connection, tenants or landlords may apply to VCAT for a determination. If the tenant has already paid for the line connection and believes the landlord should reimburse them, but cannot reach agreement, they can make a claim for compensation at VCAT.

Television

Television is not considered an essential service for rental properties.

Tenants who want to use a TV should check whether the property has a digital TV antenna and coaxial points, before signing the lease. Tenants may ask the landlord to install these items, but the landlord does not have to agree.

Tenants must obtain the landlord's consent to install fixtures to a rental property, or make any alteration, renovation or addition. For more information on alterations to rented premises, view our Tenants installing fixtures and altering the rental property page.

Smart meters

For information about who is responsible for smart meters, visit the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning website.

Council rates and other taxes

The landlord must reimburse the tenant for any rates or taxes paid to a public authority that are not part of consumption charges for the service. However, the tenant may be responsible for these costs if their lease is for a fixed period of more than one year and the lease agreement states this.