The rental provider (landlord) is responsible for:
- Initial connection costs and charges for utilities connected to the property
- Excessive usage charges caused by faults, though there are requirements renters need to follow and the rental provider is not liable if the fault was caused by any property that is the responsibility of the provider of the utility or service
- Charges resulting from replacement appliances that do not meet certain standards
- All rates and taxes, and they must indemnify renters against any of these costs
- Other costs and charges relating to utilities at the property, which vary depending on whether or not there are separate meters at the property for the utilities [sections 53, 53A, 54 and 58]
Note that sections in brackets, such as [section 53], refer to sections in Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997. See the Resources section at the bottom of this page for links.
If the property has a separate meter the rental provider is responsible for the cost of:
- Water supply services, excluding your water usage
- Sewer and drainage services, excluding sewerage disposal charges
- The initial supply or hire of gas bottles
- Pumping out or cleaning sewage and septic tanks, unless this is needed because of damage caused by you
- Water cartage charges for refilling fire-safety water tanks, and for drinking water unless related to your water usage [section 53, regulation 22]
Note that regulations in brackets, such as [regulation 22], refer to regulations in Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021.
No separate meter
If there is no separate meter at the property, the rental provider is also responsible for:
- Charges for the supply or use of electricity, gas (except bottled gas) or oil
- Water charges, including all sewage disposal charges, and water supplied to the property with the supply service costs [section 53]
Initial connection costs
Initial connection costs are charged when a service is connected to a property for the very first time. The rental provider is responsible for the initial connection costs for:
- Gas, including bottled gas
- Fixed internet and telecommunications connections, including through the NBN [section 53, regulation 22]
If the rental provider tries to pass on these charges to you, you do not have to pay them. If you have paid for any initial connection costs you can take steps to be reimbursed for anything you have spent. See the section headed Reimbursement on this page.
Excessive usage charges
Who is responsible
If you have received a utility bill with excessive usage charges, and these have been caused by a fault in the building’s infrastructure or any fixtures or buildings at, or connected to, the property, the rental provider is responsible for the part of the bill that is additional to an amount you would ordinarily be billed.
This is provided that you told them, as soon as practicable, about the:
- Excessive usage charges
- Fault that caused the excessive usage
However, the rental provider is not responsible if the fault was caused by anything you did, or anything you should have done but did not do [section 53A].
For example, if there is a water leak in an underground pipe connected to the property that caused your water bill to double, and you told the rental provider about the leak as soon as you found out about it, the rental provider needs to pay half your bill.
If you have already paid the bill the rental provider needs to reimburse you for the excessive costs. They also need to reimburse you for any reasonable costs you may have paid for to have a suitably qualified person find the fault – for example, if you paid a plumber to find the leak. See the section headed Reimbursement on this page.
If the fault was caused by anything that is the responsibility of the utility or service company, the rental provider is not responsible for any excess usage charges [section 53A]. In this situation you should contact the utility or service company or the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Victoria.
If there is a rupture or leak you should also report this to your water company or gas distributor immediately. See the Victorian Government’s Energy Safe Victoria website for more information.
If an appliance, fitting or fixture at the property uses or supplies water, electricity or gas needs to be replaced, the rental provider must make sure the replacement meets a prescribed minimum rating in an efficiency rating system [section 69].
This is a duty of the rental provider under the law. If the replacement does not meet the required rating standard you can give the rental provider a notice of breach of duty asking them to fix this. See our page on Landlord breaches.
The rental provider is liable to pay the cost of water, electricity or gas supplied to or used at the property if the replacement appliance, fixture or fitting does not meet the required standards, even if these costs would usually be your responsibility [section 54].
If the rental provider refuses to pay these costs you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an order that they have to pay [sections 54 and 452].
If you have paid for costs the rental provider is responsible for you can take steps to be reimbursed. See the section headed Reimbursement on this page.
Arranging your own repairs
If you have arranged for urgent repairs yourself to replace an appliance, fixture of fitting that uses or supplies water, electricity or gas, you also need to make sure the replacement meets the required rating standards [section 72]. See our page Repairs and maintenance for information on arranging urgent repairs yourself and getting reimbursed for them.
Required rating standards
For gas space heaters and non-ducted air conditioners and heat pumps, which are not ducted through the whole house, the minimum rating is a 2-star heating rating [regulations 23 and 24].
For water appliances, fixtures and fittings the minimum rating is a 3-star rating in a Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme, with dishwashers also needing to have a 3-star energy rating [regulations 23 and 24].
If the nature or the age of the property means a 3-star WELS rated replacement cannot be installed, or will not operate properly if it is installed, then a lower-rated replacement can be installed. The replacement needs to have the highest WELS rating that will operate effectively. For example, if, due to the age of the plumbing, a 3-star rated tap will not produce sufficient water pressure then a 2-star rated tap may be installed [regulations 23 and 24].