Hi Lifehacker, At the moment, I'm renting out a house with my partner in Queensland. We previously rented a house with a different real estate to our current one. Each time we were sent our water bill, we would request the actual copy of the bill, and they were happy to send it through.
However, with our new real estate agent, we haven't been able to get a copy of the bill, though we have been told how much water is used. I have continuously emailed them once every couple of days for the last three weeks without a response. The bill has been paid, but I'm yet to see the actual water bill to confirm the water usage. My question is this: am I entitled to see the actual water bill, and if so, what further steps should I take for them to send it through? Thanks, Watered Down
Approaches to water bills and how they are paid by tenants vary depending on both the state you live in and the kind of property you rent. In Queensland, landlords are required to show physical evidence of water charging, although passing on the physical bill apparently isn't mandatory.
Here is the relevant ruling on the state government's Residential Tenancies Authority website:
Lessors will receive the water bill and should provide their tenants with a copy of water bills or evidence of water consumption to verify the amount to be charged.
The above clause suggests that your agent isn't technically breaking any rules here. Their decision to completely ignore your emails does seem odd though.
Have you actually tried giving them a call? Real estate agencies aren't always prompt when it comes to electronic correspondence. There are usually multiple agents looking after each property, which can make it easy for tenant's emails to "slip through the cracks". (This is especially true if the email requires extra work on the agent's part.)
Instead of relying on email, try engaging them in a conversation; either via phone or by visiting in person. At least you'll get a definitive answer that way. Our advice is to ask politely and explain it's for record keeping, as opposed to suspecting you're getting ripped off.
In any event, it's easy enough to check whether you're being overcharged with or without the bill -- simply compare the litres on your water meter against the amount they claim is being used each month. If the numbers don't match up, you definitely have cause to see the alleged bill of charges. To take the matter further, contact Queensland's Residential Tenancies Authority or Tenants' Union Of Queensland
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.