Landlords must provide safe water to their tenants when renting a house on tank water. Therefore, the water must fit human consumption and comply with the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2018). What do you need to do to comply with the legal requirements?
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What are the landlord’s responsibilities when renting a house on tank water?
- Landlords must legally provide safe and potable water to their tenants.
- Potable water means fit for human consumption. It is defined as water that complies with the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2018).
- The most cost-effective method currently to guarantee potable water is an ultraviolet (UV) filtration system.
- We recommend a whole-house UV filter to enjoy safe water from every tap of your home.
- Aqua Works installs and maintains your UV filtration system to keep you and your tenant safe and legally protected to avoid tenancy tribunal issues.
- Currently, most rentals do not comply, and tenancy tribunals are now enforcing compliance.
What is the issue when renting a house on tank water?
Landlords want to know and understand their obligations while tenants contact us about their rights after having health issues relating to their water supply.
When we talk about safe and potable water, we predominantly refer to rural homes harvesting rainwater as it is one of the primary water sources for New Zealanders. For years the Kiwi attitude has been that rainwater is safe, with any illness being blamed on food. However, our water tests show that a frightening amount of rainwater tanks we test do not comply with the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2018).
It is essential to be aware that the Standards cover all water sources, including rainwater supply, bore water supply, surface water supply (e.g. creeks or springs) and mains water.
What are the main health problems with our drinking water in NZ?
Water can be a carrier for many bacteria, viruses and protozoa, with E.Coli and Giardia being the most well known.
E.Coli can cause health issues, from a mild “not feeling right” to extreme diarrhoea and vomiting. Especially for infants, children, and people with weak immune systems pose a particular threat to health. We have worked with many families hospitalised due to water contaminated with E.Coli. A water test helps you to get clarity on the composition of your water and indicate possible contamination.
Click this link to get more information on the Ministry of Health website about E.Coli.
Giardia is a notifiable disease in New Zealand. It is increasingly being found in rainwater tanks. This parasite is difficult and expensive to test for in water. Consequently, we use an indicative E.Coli test instead. If your rainwater has E.Coli, it is likely to contain Giardia as well. Giardia symptoms are similar to E.Coli. They can include stomach cramps and diarrhoea being a threat to your health.
Click this link to get more information on the Ministry of Health website about Giardia.
As a landlord what are your legal requirements for potable water?
The Health Act 1956 No 65 (as of 09 April 2021) states in Section 39:
Requirements of dwelling houses as to supply of water and sanitary conveniences.
- It shall not be lawful for any person to erect or rebuild any building intended for use as a dwellinghouse, or for any person to sell, or let, or sublet, or permit to be occupied as a dwellinghouse, any building or part of a building, unless in every such case sufficient provision is made in accordance with the building code and the Building Act 2004 for the following matters, that is to say:
- an adequate and convenient supply of water that is potable (as defined in section 69G), available for the inmates of the dwelling
Click this link to get more information on the Legislation of New Zealand website about the Health Act 1956.
In addition, the 1992 Building Code states in Section G12.3.1:
Water intended for human consumption, food preparation, utensil washing, or oral hygiene must be POTABLE.
It also says “Water pipes and outlets with non-potable water must be clearly marked”.
Click these links to get more information on the Legislation of New Zealand website about the Building Code.
When was the last time you saw any non potable water supply clearly marked in a house on rainwater?
Taumata Arowai And The Water Services Bill 2020
The new Water Services Bill (2020) is currently before Parliament. They have made some crucial changes to clearly define the meaning of “drinking water”, “potable” water and “safe” water.
In Section 6 of the Water Services Bill, it says “drinking water means water that is used for human consumption, or oral hygiene or preparing food and drink, washing utensils that are used for eating and drinking, or for preparing, serving, or storing food or drink for human consumption.”
The new Water Services Bill clarifies the definitions of ‘safe’ and ‘potable’ water means:
- It is safe to drink, and
- It complies with the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2018).
Click this link to get more information on the Legislation of New Zealand website about the Water Service Bill (2020).
Taumata Arowai is the new Drinking Water Regulator in New Zealand. This provision will be in charge to control, manage and enforce the new drinking Water Service Bill (2020).
What does this mean practically for landlords when renting a house on tank water?
Finally, you must offer a permanent solution that provides potable drinking water for oral hygiene, washing vegetables, washing dishes, drinking water, preparing food and storing food. As a result, you have to install a water treatment method on your water supply line that will eliminate the risks of E.Coli and Giardia contamination.
What is a permanent solution for providing potable water from a rainwater supply?
Several technologies guarantee safe, potable water:
- Ultraviolet light / UV Filtration
At Aqua Works, we are skilled in all three technologies and use them where appropriate. Above all, the most cost-effective solution that guarantees safe potable water is an ultraviolet (UV) system that includes sediment filters. UV is relatively simple, economical and works well on rainwater supply. Ultimately, we recommend a good quality UV filtration system. We source our filters from Canada and Italy as these systems have a 3-year warranty. It is the highest in New Zealand.
We guarantee E.Coli free water year on year as long as we are servicing the UV system regularly. Our annual service reminder will help keep you on the safe side and be up-to-date with the legal requirements.
What is a Landlord’s minimum legal obligation when renting a house on tank water?
The minimum obligation is to provide potable water for:
- human consumption
- preparing food and drink
- washing vegetables
- washing utensils used for food and drink
- oral hygiene – brushing teeth
- preparing, serving, or storing food and drink for human consumption
The minimum solution to meet the legal obligation when renting a house on tank water
Technically, this can be met by only sterilising the main kitchen faucet. At Aqua Works, we custom design and install an under bench UV system. This water treatment is capable of treating cold water coming through the existing kitchen mixer tap. If this is the solution you choose, you must label all other house taps as non-potable.
The best solution to meet the legal obligation when renting a house on tank water
The best solution is always the whole house filtration system. This water treatment system future-proofs the entire house as all the water, hot and cold, is safe to drink. Economically, the installation price costs more than the single tap option. However, when looking at the annual maintenance costs, they are comparable, with a real cost difference of $76 between the single tap and the whole house system. So for reasons of practicality and health of your tenants, we recommend this as the fairest solution.
Aqua Works can help you with
- Free onsite visits / evaluation / quoting
- Installing water filtration that meets the Building Code, e.g. UV filtration systems
- Servicing all filtration systems, especially UV filtration systems, to meet legal standards
- Water pump call-out service, pump repairs and installations
- In house certified plumbers & electricians, including maintenance, hot water cylinder replacements, rain harvesting, water tanks
Aqua Works guarantees E.Coli free drinking water that meets New Zealand Drinking Water Standards and all legal requirements. We have over 20 years of experience in helping property owners comply with New Zealand Water Standards. Call us on 0800 AQUA UV or 0800 278 288 for a free on-site consultation.
If you are a landlord, the new legal regulations apply to you. Download the information brochure so that you have everything at a glance. Click on the link below.