04.Your water rights
Your rights regarding financial hardship are similar to your rights around energy when it comes to water bills, but there are differences across the states and territories. As a general rule, water can’t be disconnected for the non-payment of a bill, but the flow can be restricted.
And there is usually a requirement for retailers to allow people experiencing financial hardship to defer their payment. If you’re having trouble, contact your retailer as soon as possible to let them know and ask what help is available.
For specific information, contact your water supplier or look at their financial hardship policy. For those whose water supplier is the local council, contact the council’s debt recovery team to find out what assistance is available.
New South Wales
Water suppliers in NSW must provide customers in financial hardship the ability to defer their payment, which is set out in the Water Industry Competition Regulation 2008
Water providers in Victoria must offer customers flexible payment plans affordable in their circumstances (provided they haven’t failed to keep up with two plans in the past 12 months) under the Customer Service Code for Urban Water Businesses
Water retailers in south east Queensland must offer customers in financial hardship the option to pay in affordable instalments (provided they haven’t failed to keep up with two plans in the past 12 months) under the Water Sewerage and Services Code for Small Customers in South East Queensland
Water retailers in South Australia must offer customers experiencing payment difficulties flexible payment plans. Your rights are laid out in the Water Retail Code for Major Retailers
or for Minor Retailers
. Any customer that is disconnected but that is eligible for the retailer’s hardship program is entitled to have the reconnection fee waived. Retailers must base their financial hardship policies on the minister’s model policy
Water retailers in Western Australia must offer a payment plan to any customer who identifies themselves to be experiencing payment difficulties, as set out in the Water Services Code of Conduct (Customer Service Standards) 2013
Northern Territory customers having trouble paying their bill should contact Power and Water Corporation as it may be able to arrange a payment plan. If you eligible for a payment plan and make the required repayments, you can’t be disconnected.
As the only provider of utility services in the Northern Territory, customer rights are laid out in the Power and Water Corporation’s customer contract
, and through its financial hardship policy
Water providers in Tasmania must offer you a payment plan if you let them know you’re having trouble paying. They must also have financial hardship policies under the Water and Sewerage Industry (Customer Service Standards) Regulations 2009
Water providers must offer customers who let them know they are experiencing trouble paying a payment plan under the Utilities (Consumer Protection Code) Determination 2012
While you are generally responsible for fixing a leak in any of the pipes on your side of the fence, it’s worth checking with your retailer about any rebates or reductions in fees in the case where your bill may seem unusually high due to an undetected leak. Many retailers offer reductions in such cases. For example, Sydney Water offers a 50% credit for extra water used in the case of a concealed leak