Charging for water usage in QLD - 'water efficiency certificate' required?

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by DavidMc, 15th Feb, 2012.

  1. mattysavager

    mattysavager Member

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    DavidMc,

    From experience dealing with this issue - my advice would be to suffer the initial cost of a plumber's report. It lasts forever, and then if a tenant decides to challenge you on the issue (which they consistently do), you have some grounds to fight back.

    In practice, when you send a tenant a water consumption charge bill, you must give them reasonable time to pay, typically 30 days. If they do not pay the full amount in this time, there is no way under the Act to punish them specifically. They may be issued a breach notice for failure to comply with an article stipulated in their tenancy agreement. If they ignore the notice, then you may go through the process of sending them further breaches, and then a Notice to Leave. This seems extreme for a water charge bill and they will usually do all they can to get out of the situation.

    Excuses usually include: That they reported a dripping tap months ago and it was not repaired, therefore they may not pay for the charges. Or that the toilet was running, or that their is a leak in their pipes somewhere.

    At least if you have a plumbing report - you can email it to them and call their bluff.

    Also remember, the RTA in QLD has absolutely no power. No power to enforce anything under the act, and no power to penalise anybody who does not comply with their 'Guidelines'. Any matter that is taken to the full extent of the law will end up in a QCAT tribunal and the adjudicator typically favours tenants unless the landlord has obtained the certificate of water efficiency compliance.

    It's also tax deductible (Consult your taxation agent for specific advice)
     
  2. Louwai

    Louwai Member

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    I'm in a group of 5 townhouses. At present there is a communal water meter at the boundary, but in addition, each unit has it's own water meter.
    1) currently all 5 owners pay equal shares of the communal water bill.
    2) We have applied to Allconnex to have the individual meters read instead. Allconnex has refused to do this until;
    a) We pay for a plumber to come & inspect the existing meters to confirm that they meet Allconnex's requirement (the meters are 10yrs old)
    b) We pay for a plumber to come & inspect each of the 5 properties to certify that they are "Water Wise" compliant.
    c) We proved these 2 certificates to Allconnex to confirm the above.

    So far we have had conflicting reports. 1 plumber says the water meters seem to be fine & they comply. Another plumber says they do not comply & wants to charge us $1800 per meter to replace them all.
    We tried to get the guy that says they're good, to come & certify, but he's declined. Saying that the job is too small & not worth his time. So I'm guessing that he's incorrect in his initial assessment.
    BUT, the meters work fine. It's just that they are not 1 of the 2 types that Allconnex have nominated to be their "acceptable" meters.
     
  3. shuggy

    shuggy Banned

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    I would pay the money and get them individually metered which can be claimed on tax and also save you money in the long run by passing on water usage costs.

    David, i recently got a plumber to do a Water Efficiency Audit on a unit in Surfers Paradise for $60 labour + $22 materials.
     
  4. martinjgreen

    martinjgreen Member

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    By charging for three months, are you talking about fixed charges? You know those are the responsibility of the landlord right?

    According to the RTA:

    State Bulk Water Charge Yes, tenant can be charged*
    Water Usage Charges Yes, tenant can be charged*
    Fixed Access Charges (including Water Access Charge and
    Sewerage Access Charge) No, tenant can't be charged
    The lessor must pay all fixed charges for water supply

    See their fact sheet for Water Charging

    The reason is likely because the bill is split - fixed charges being the landlord's responsibility, usage being tenant's.

    FYI, if you have LPG bottles at a property (rather than mains gas) the rules are the same - landlord pays fixed charges, tenant pays usage.
     
  5. DavidMc

    DavidMc Member

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    Nah, the reason is most likely because the government uses a out of date customer billing system (I work in IT and specialize in utility billing). It probably can't handle two accounts for the one premises and the tenant/landlord relationship.

    In Victoria we have split bills too, the tenant have an account and gets the usage, the landlords have an account and get the service charges.
     
  6. wylie

    wylie Member

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    That is correct (as per my post number 5, last para, where I mention "usage"?).

    Why tenants in Queensland cannot be connected up for water like they do for electricity and gas is beyond my comprehension. Why the water bills are three months late is also beyond me.

    But yes, I know tenants cannot be charged for the service charges.
     
  7. Perp

    Perp Member

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    I'm with Peterw; you really need to go and sit in on a few QCAT cases. If you think you can get away with "I'll forward the bill if you're wrong", and "I'll just use a timer and a bucket", etc., I think that you really would find it educational.

    Most things don't go wrong because - fortunately - most tenants are reasonable people.

    But if you get one of the tenants who's not, you'll very quickly find out that your proposals have more than a few flaws. I'd be willing to bet quite a lot that QCAT would give absolutely no weight to your "bucket and timer self-certification". They may accept receipts and/or photographs showing that all taps and toilets are 3* or better, but even then, it only takes the tenant claiming that those aren't the same as the fittings in the house or something, and it'll fall apart.

    If you did actually threaten a tenant that they'd have to pay if you got a plumber out and it turned out that the premises is water efficient - LMAO :D - QCAT would eat you alive. Should that gem be revealed to the QCAT Member, the remainder of the proceeding would no doubt be extremely unpleasant and expensive, because you've demonstrated that you either don't know what the laws are, or have no respect for them. They tend not to view that very positively.
     
  8. skippyz

    skippyz curious but cautious

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    I have an IP house in Brisbane suburb (North East) and this topic was discussed with my current PM in brisbane.
    My PM explained similar thing to me - similar thing in this thread and I kind of gave up and keep paying it because I was led to believe I have to provide certificate for this charge.

    These documents were directed to me during discussion;
    www.qcoss.org.au/sites/default/files/TUQ Tenants.pdf
    http://www.rta.qld.gov.au/Resources...cy-fact-sheets/Water-charging-fact-sheet.aspx

    So I understand that bottom line is we can charge the water rates (I am assuming the property is satisfying the criteria) to tenants. Should they challenge the criteria, we arrange an inspection by a plumber for water efficiency.
     
  9. wylie

    wylie Member

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    Skippyz, why not just pay for a plumber to check the property. You will then have the certificate you need to charge your tenants for their water.
     
  10. TMNT

    TMNT Member

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    this just reminded me,

    I recently got a water bill for usage of $12, after I paid my service costs,

    first bill since settlement,

    pity no one lives there,
    pity its a vacant block of land!!!
    I just laughed and paid it off
     
  11. Ed Barton

    Ed Barton Advance Australia fair

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    One of the neighbours (builders) pinching your water?
     
  12. skippyz

    skippyz curious but cautious

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    yes wylie, that sounds a good idea. I have a suspicion that I may have to install a new tap etc though. I have no idea which taps are satisfying the criteria...
     
  13. wylie

    wylie Member

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    That is still cheaper than paying for your tenant's water. You can claim the cost of making it water wise and your tenants will have a healthy respect for how much they use when they are paying for it.
     
  14. NedKelly

    NedKelly Member

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    We had a vacant block when we subdivided our land. It was next to us and we kept getting visits from Gold Coast water to see why we weren't using enough water, they thought there was a problem with the meter or we had by-passed it. I got sick of explaining it was connected to a vacant block. They must have spent a fortune sending people out to check it.