The method of metering and charging for water consumption has changed in Tasmania in the past year. Where once water was a part of the council rates paid by property owners, it is now metered. Property owners receive invoices from one of three government owned water bodies. The invoice each quarter includes supply and usage charges.
From 1 July 2012 a landlord/agent may pass on the water usage component to tenants.
The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania outlines the changes as follows:
Water and Sewerage Charges
Here’s the quick low down on water and sewerage bills:
- Water and sewerage bills should be sent to the landlord or agent not the tenant. This will not change after July 1.
- The landlord/agent may only pass on the metered component of the bill to the tenant.
- The metered component can only be passed on to the tenant if the meter is only for their property and the tenant(s) have been the only occupant during the billing period.
Tenants are not responsible for the whole bill, even if the lease agreement says that they are. If tenants need advice on this issue contact us.
Housing Tasmania tenants do not presently pay water and sewerage costs directly.
Today in The Mercury there is an article regarding some landlords/agents attempting to pass on charges beyond what is allowed. One problem for landlords is that apartments are generally not individually metered and therefore it cannot be separately identified and passed on.
Tenants’ ire at water charges
TENANTS are being urged to know their rights after a flood of complaints about property owners charging them for water use.
Tenants Union of Tasmania lawyer Ben Bartl said yesterday the union had been receiving complaints every week since the introduction of two-part water pricing last July. The new pricing system means customers pay a fixed charge for their connection and another for water use.
Mr Bartl said that, despite the law clearly stating tenants could not be charged for water usage without a meter connected to their property, they still were being asked to pay.
“Tenants have been asked to pay both parts of the bill,” Mr Bartl said. He said the problem was common on blocks with more than one dwelling, such as apartments or units. ”When there is only one meter, the landlord is asking the tenants to split the bill,” he said.
Southern Water and the Real Estate Institute of Tasmania yesterday said the law was clear that property owners could not pass on water use bills to their tenants without a meter on their property.
Institute property management consultant Robbie Yeoland said it was very difficult for property owners on multi-dwelling blocks to meter individual properties because of complicated plumbing systems and because the installation needed the consensus of all property owners. ”It is logistically impossible in a lot of properties,” Ms Yeoland said. ”About 20 per cent of property owners have been sub-metered.”
The warning came after a Southern Water customer, Seven Mile Beach resident Lynne Dawes, told theMercury yesterday she had been charged for water use on her property despite not having a water meter.
In a case similar to that of Ms Dawes, Frances Swiak, of Glenorchy, said she was told she had a meter and was charged for water before Southern Water acknowledged there was no meter. ”They just keep sending me these bills for water use,” Mrs Swiak said yesterday. Southern Water yesterday said Mrs Swiak would not be charged for her water use until she had a meter installed.
The original article can be found in The Mercury, Friday 1 February 2013 – here.