When do I connect / disconnect electricity, gas and water?
A handy summary of who connects the utilities, and when.
When a property is open for inspection by interested buyers, it is important that the electricity and gas are connected, so all appliances, heating and cooling can be checked to see if they are working before any contract is signed.
Water always stayed connected to the property (the name of the account holder just changes over from settlement day), although on rare occasions a vendor might turn off the main water tap outside. This can easily be turned back on by the purchaser. In older properties, it is prudent to check internal water taps and flush toilets, in case there are suspicious rattling noises and to ensure there is a continuous hot water supply (and that the hot water unit doesn't need replacing!).
Once the property is sold, the vendor is not required to keep the gas and electricity connected, but it is sensible that they do, until settlement day, to avoid any messy disputes with the purchaser. This is because the purchaser is entitled to inspect the property again, in the week prior to settlement day, to re-check the condition of all the appliances, heating and cooling. If the vendor insists not to keep electricty and gas connected, the purchaser can organise their own accounts to commence earlier than the settlement date, so they are operating during the purchaser's final inspection. The purchaser can check in with the real estate agent about two weeks before settlement day, to confirm if new electricty and gas connections will be required in time for their final inspection. Most vendors use common sense and will leave their accounts connected until settlement day.
Electric induction cooktops will only work if an induction-compatible pot is placed on top of them. Older central heating systems may need the pilot light re-lit if the heater hasn't been turned on for a while. Ovens in newer apartments tend to have separate safety switches that can be manually turned off. And reverse cycle air-conditioning remote controls can have flat batteries.
Shortly after settlement is completed, our office will advise the water company, Council and any Owners Corporation manager about the change of ownership, so the purchaser and vendor don't have to worry about contacting those authorities (unless the purchaser is renting out the property, which means they must provide the new tenant's details to the water company). But everything else = all the services that the vendor and purchaser can choose who they go with - such as gas, electricity, internet, insurance - we leave these with the vendor and purchaser, to organise their own connections and disconnections.
Note: the above is general information and should not be considered as legal advice.
Photo by Andre Moura