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As a public housing renter, you are responsible for how much water, gas and electricity your household uses.
You are also responsible for paying the bill for these utilities.

Water

All public housing renters must contribute to the cost of the water they use – whether or not they have a separate water meter.

New water service charges for bulk metered properties commence from 21 November 2021.  

These changes will ensure bulk metered households pay their fair share for the water they use.   

Individually metered public housing households are not impacted by the changes.

If your home does not have a separate water meter

You pay a standard weekly service charge to cover the cost of the water you use.

The charge is in addition to your normal rent and will be shown on your rental account statement. You can pay it in the same way you pay your rent.

Weekly service charges

Changes to current weekly service charges will change from 21 November 2021 as outlined below:

Property type Current charges New Service charges
Bedsit $0.60 pw $3.20 pw
1 bedroom $1.05 pw $3.20 pw
2 bedroom $1.50 pw $4.70 pw
3+ bedroom $1.70 pw $5.40 pw

These charges were worked out based on how much water public housing renters have used in the past.

The cost has been lowered by including the government concession for water use and sewerage disposal charges. This was done so that individual renters are not disadvantaged.

If your home has a separate water meter

You pay the bill that your local water company sends you. The bill will show how much water you have used.

How it works

  • Before you move into your home, you must tell your water company that you will be the new renter. Your housing services officer can give you the name of your water company
  • The water company will read your water meter. They charge you for the water you use from the day you move in
  • When you receive your bill, you pay the water company directly. Ask the water company if you are eligible for a concession
  • Before you move out of your home, you must tell the water company. This is so you are not charged for water used after you leave.

Frequently asked questions

What changes are occurring to public housing water service charges?

Homes Victoria is implementing changes to water service charges for households that do not have separate water meter (also known as bulk metered public housing properties).

Public housing renters who do not have their own water meter currently pay a service charge for the water they use. This is significantly less than the water bills paid by public housing properties with individual water meters.

The changes to water service charges will ensure bulk metered households (i.e. households who do not have a separate water meter) pay their fair share for the water they use. There is no change for public housing households with individual water meters as they already pay an exact amount for the water they use, like any other property.

The changes involve a small increase in water service charges for properties without individual water meters – many of which are in high-rise buildings in metropolitan areas.

Homes Victoria will continue to subsidise part of the water costs for these households.

Changes to water service charges will commence from 21 November 2021.

Why are the changes occurring?

Homes Victoria has heavily subsidised the cost of water for public housing households without individual water meters. The overall charges based on the amount of water used by these households has not changed since 2001.

This has meant that Homes Victoria has absorbed the increasing cost of water over this period. By introducing these changes to water service charges, Homes Victoria will be able to respond faster to requests for maintenance and upgrades to public housing.

Under section 57 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, the Director of Housing is entitled to set a service charge for renters where there is a shared meter. This charge may be set in line with the cost of providing the service or facilities.

These changes will mean that public housing renters whose homes do not have individual water meters pay a fairer share for the water they use and are more aligned with water charges paid by other public housing renters.

How much more will I have to pay?

Homes Victoria will continue to subsidise a portion of these household water costs.  

As outlined below, new charges have been capped so that there is no increase in service charges of more than $3.70 per week from the current water charges outlined below.

Property type Current charges New Service charges
Bedsit $0.60 pw $3.20 pw
1 bedroom $1.05 pw $3.20 pw
2 bedroom $1.50 pw $4.70 pw
3+ bedroom $1.70 pw $5.40 pw
Will any homes have an increase of more than $3.70?

A very small number of bulk metered properties have not been paying for any water usage for the duration of their tenancy as they have not had the service charge applied to their households rent.  

If you live in a bulk metered property that has not been charged before, your service charges from 21 November 2021 will be the new service charges amount based on bedroom size as outlined.

How are the new water charges calculated?

The new charges have been calculated using benchmark data from Melbourne Water that is produced annually on the average water usage across Melbourne and current water costs. This has been adjusted for the number of bedrooms in a property, based on the average number of people per household. In addition, an eligible concessions amount has been deducted from the new service charges.

To minimise the financial impact on bulk metered households, Homes Victoria will continue to subsidise part of the water costs.

The new charges have been capped so that no existing service charges are increased by more than $3.70.

When will the changes commence?

Changes to water service charges will commence at the next rent review on 21 November 2021.

How will the revenue from the increase in water service charges be used by the Victorian Government?

All revenue from new water service charges will be reinvested into maintenance, repairs and upgrades to improve public housing for current and future residents.

How do I know whether my property is individually or bulk metered for water?

If you live in a property that is bulk metered for water, you will have a service charge as part of your weekly payment amount. This amount will be outlined when you receive an account statement. If you have an individual meter at your property, you will receive a water bill from your water authority.

Are bulk metered households in metro and regional Victoria charged the same amount?

Yes. Water service charges for bulk metered public housing properties do not differ by location.

Why is the calculation based on the number of bedrooms of my property?

As Homes Victoria cannot assess the individual water usage per property per person in bulk metered households, water service charges have historically been based on the average number of bedrooms.

The new service charges will continue to be based on the number of bedrooms in a property. This is the fairest way to calculate average consumption per household.

The new charges have been calculated using benchmark data on water usage across Melbourne and current water costs. This has been adjusted for the number of bedrooms in a property, based on the average number of people per household.

Are all households on my estate charged the same amount?

Irrespective of where you live in Victoria, all bulk metered properties will pay the same water service charge as a property with the same number of bedrooms.

Will the amount I pay change over time or remain the same?

Each year the water charges for public housing properties will be updated to reflect the cost of water and water usage for that financial year. This change will occur annually, in line with the November rent review.

This means that water service charges may increase or decrease from year to year.  

Under section 57 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, the Director of Housing is entitled to set a service charge for renters where there is a shared or bulk meter. This charge may be set in line with the cost of providing the service or facilities.

Am I charged for the water used in communal areas like the laundry or to water the gardens?

No. Homes Victoria continues to subsidise a portion of the water costs to cover water usage in communal areas. The usage in these areas was not used to calculate the new water charges.

What water efficiency upgrades in high rise public housing are being delivered by the Victorian Government?

When Homes Victoria conducts upgrades or maintenance on a property tap fittings, toilets or shower fixtures are replaced with fittings that meet a minimum water efficiency standard (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) rating. Where estates are redeveloped, Homes Victoria is ensuring high water standards and individual metering.

What other efficiency upgrades are being delivered to reduce the costs of living for my household?

The Victorian Government is investing $112 million to deliver the Energy Efficiency in Social Housing Program across Victoria. This program will benefit 35,000 social housing households, delivering cheaper energy bills and better thermal comfort and safety to ensure our social housing system adapts to Victoria’s changing climate.

Will Homes Victoria upgrade households to individual meters?

Homes Victoria is considering ways to transition more households to individual metering where it is possible to do so within the constraints of our older buildings.

Are my rights diminished under the changes?

No. You will still have the same rights as a renter under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

Will the new water charges change the way my rent is calculated? 

No. Homes Victoria is not changing the way we calculate rent. Water service charges are a separate amount that only relates to the water used by a household.

Rent will continue to be based on household income. Households will pay no more than 25 per cent of their total household income towards rent. More information on how Homes Victoria calculates rent can be found on the HousingVic website.

What if I can’t afford to pay my rent due to this increase?

If you can't pay your rent, speak with your local office as soon as possible.  

A list of DFFH housing offices is available at Locations of DHHS offices in Victoria webpage.

Help is also available from the Tenancy plus support program. They offer support to help you keep your tenancy. For more information, visit Tenancy Plus support program webpage.

Where can I find more information?

For more information, visit the HousingVic website.

Gas and electricity

Find the best energy plan

Use the Victorian Government's Victorian Energy Compare tool to find the best deals on power bills for your household.

Answer a few questions about your household and your energy bills and the Energy Compare tool shows you relevant energy plans in your area.

The regularly updated tool lets you compare the latest electricity, gas and solar offers from energy retailers.

Energy concessions

If you have a relevant concession card, you may be eligible for an energy concession.

Visit our human services website for a list of energy concessions you can apply for.