Setting up a rental can be a complicated business, but it is even more daunting if the property has a water well. Private wells provide the drinking water for over 42 million homes throughout the U.S, so here is a brief guide to the tenant and landlord responsibilities.  

The Basics:

If you are used to homes with a municipal water supply, the prospect of a private well can be daunting. Professionally constructed wells are actually easy to maintain and can offer years of pure, safe drinking water. While there are some maintenance tasks including annual testing, you can enjoy a reliable and safe water supply. Some localities and states do have laws in place to designate who has legal responsibility for the testing, treatment, and maintenance of private water systems in rental homes. If no law exists, it will be necessary to establish an agreement with the landlord to ensure the water supply remains safe.  

Landlord Responsibilities: 

As the homeowner or landlord, you have the legal responsibility to provide clean cold and hot running water to any rental units. As a well owner, you also have the responsibility to test the well annually. This test should be conducted by a well water professional contractor and include a complete water system inspection.  

How Often Should Water Testing Occur? 

The EPA recommends that well water supplies are tested annually for nitrate/nitrites, pH, and bacteria as a minimum. There are different potential contaminants in different regions and areas of the country, so you should also tailor your testing accordingly. You may live in an area of the country with geographical anomalies where there is naturally occurring lead, arsenic or other contaminants. If you lack experience with private well water supplies, it is a good idea to speak to a local water treatment professional for further guidance.  

Who is Responsible for Water Treatment? 

If the water testing does show contaminants, is it the responsibility of the tenant or landlord to correct the issue? Again this depends on your local agency or state. Some require treatment depending on the levels of contaminant present. There is a myriad of options for water treatment systems and devices including point of use systems that can be fitted to your kitchen sink or point of entry systems that will treat the entire water supply as it enters the home.  

Your rental agreement should include stipulations for who will pay for the water testing and any treatment that may be necessary. The cost of the annual water testing is usually absorbed by the landlord or could be passed to the tenant, or possibly split between both parties. If the levels of contaminants make treatment necessary, the costs usually fall to the landlord.  

Arranging a lease for a rental with a private well may be daunting, but these properties can offer a pure, safe water supply. You will need to read through the terms of the lease carefully and clarify the tenant/landlord responsibilities before signing. This will ensure that you can have complete confidence that you have good quality water in the years to come.

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.