Tenant and Landlord Responsibilities When Renting a Home With a Water Well
Private wells supply drinking water to more than 42 million homes across the nation. A professionally constructed well is easy to maintain and can provide many years of safe, pure drinking water. Annual testing and periodic maintenance is the best way to ensure the supply and safety of your family's drinking water.
When you receive your water from a private well, you are responsible for testing, treatment, and maintenance of your water system components. But if you are renting a home with a private well, who is responsible for testing, treatment, and maintenance? Some states or localities have laws in place that designate who is legally responsible. Others have no specific provisions. When no law exists, it becomes necessary to reach an agreement between the renter and landlord to ensure that the water supply remains safe and the home's water system remains sound.
Let's look at some frequently asked questions that discuss which party is responsible for maintaining a rental property water well.
If you are the homeowner/landlord, what steps should you take to maintain a water well on your rental property?
Ultimately, as a landlord, you are legally responsible for providing any rental units on your property with clean hot and cold running water. As the well owner, you should have your well tested annually by a professional well water contractor. This test should also include an inspection of the complete water system including plumbing, the well pump, well head, pressure tank and any treatment systems installed on the property.
Who is responsible for water testing?
The legal ramifications can vary by state. Most state's or local health departments govern this and may have specific laws regarding testing when a rental property receives its water from a private well. To learn more click on the following links to your state's health department.
If there are no laws in your state or locality that require water testing for rental properties, the rental agreement should include a provision stating that the landlord is responsible for testing the water supply annually and will provide a copy of the results to the renter. A list of certified testing laboratories is available at your state or local health department.
How often should testing occur and what contaminants should testing cover?
The EPA recommends annual testing for bacteria, nitrate/nitrite and pH at a minimum. Beyond these contaminants, different regions of the country can have different potential contaminants. For example, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, both service areas of Skillings and Sons, have significant granite bedrock which can be a source of radon. Other parts of the country may have geological anomalies where naturally occurring arsenic or lead may be present. The best solution is to speak with your local water well professional about contaminants that may arise in your location.
What happens if water well testing determines contaminants are present? Who is responsible for treatment?
Again, that may depend on your state or local agencies. Some may require treatment depending on the contaminant and the levels present. There are many water treatment options available such as point of use systems like sink filtration devices, as well as point of entry systems that treat your entire water supply before it enters the home. Again, speak with your local well water professional to understand your options for treatment and the cost.
Who pays for water treatment?
Any rental agreement should stipulate who will pay for testing and for any treatment that may become necessary. The cost of an annual water test can be absorbed by the landlord, passed on to the tenant or split between the two parties. If contaminant levels are such that treatment becomes necessary, the cost of treatment usually falls to the landlord.
What steps can tenants take to protect their water well?
Renters should take simple precautions to protect their drinking water supply. These include:
- Keep household chemicals away from the well and dispose of them properly
- Limit the use of pesticides and lawn fertilizers near your well head
- Make sure the well head is at least 12 inches above the ground's surface, and keep the area free of debris like fallen leaves, mulch, snow or dirt
- Be careful when mowing around the well casing
- Never tie anything, especially pets to the well
- Remember, even though your water well may meet your family's needs, it's important to conserve water to protect our natural resources
A private water well can be a plentiful source of clean, pure drinking water. With annual testing and minimal maintenance, your well can provide your home with years of uninterrupted service. If you are a renter and the property you live in receives its water from a private well, do some research to understand the laws of your state and local government agencies. Make sure that if your state does not have laws governing testing and treatment, that you include terms within your rental agreement.
As a landlord, you are responsible for providing hot and cold running water to any tenants. Make sure you consult with your state and local government to determine your legal responsibilities. If you're unsure, contact a Skillings & Sons well water professional for more information or to arrange to test your water. They will have an understanding of the laws in your location.
About Skillings & Sons, Inc.
Skillings & Sons, Inc. was established in 1970 and provides water well drilling, water treatment, water pump replacement and geothermal wells. We have a team of sixty employees who provide water well service to customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Southern Maine. Our fleet of trucks are equipped to be rolling warehouse's that can handle any service or emergency. Whether it's well drilling, a water pump failure, water contamination, or a "No Water" call, we can solve your well water problem fast. Call 1-800-441-6281