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Hard to believe we are a mere 10 weeks away from Christmas, but it also means that as the 2011 year comes to a close, come 1 January 2012, the new tenancy laws for NSW will come into full force.

Under the old Residential Tenancies Act 2010, tenants could be charged for water where there was a separate water meter. However, as part of the new reform, if a landlord wants to continue charging for water usage then the rented premises must also be made water efficient.

So what does ‘water efficient’ mean?:

  • Toilets: must be dual flush with an average water consumption not exceeding 5.5 litres per flush. The average water consumption of a dual flush cistern is taken to be the average of one full flush and four half flushes. Under the Water Efficiency and Labelling Standards Scheme (WELS), a dual flush cistern of 9 litre full flush/4.5 half flush are the least efficient products that can be sold and installed. By replacing a single flush toilet with a water efficient dual flush toilet, 51 litres per person per day can be saved.
  • Showers: shower heads with a 3 star WELS rating or higher must be installed. A standard shower head uses approximately 15 to 25 litres of water per minute. A 3 star shower head uses as little as 6 to 7 litres per minute. Installing a water efficient shower head can save approximately 14,500 litres per household per year, as well as reducing your gas hot water charges.
  • Tapware: the WELS scheme applies to any internal cold water tap or tap outlet over a basin, kitchen sink or laundry tub (including single mixer taps). Taps over a bath or taps supplying washing machines or dishwashers are excluded. Standard taps discharge 15 to 18 litres per minute. Under the WELS scheme taps with a 3 star rating or higher must have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute. With the installation of a low-flow and aerating tap, water use can be as little as 2 litres per minute (depending on the intended application), thereby reducing flow to less than a third of the standard taps.

If you are unsure of the water efficiency standing of your rental property, speak with Brian at our Building Works Australia office on 02 8006 2002 to arrange an inspection or to discuss further.

For further information concerning the WELS scheme you can visit their website at Or view the water efficiency fact sheet produced by NSW Fair Trading.

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