# Tenants water usage in Brisbane - HELP!!!

#### wylie

I have phoned the Residential Tenancies Association and they cannot give me an answer to this problem.....

I am curious about how others in Brisbane are going about charging for water usage, given that the meter readings on the rates notices are nearly three months out of date by the time the notices get sent.

We have been reading the meters, and calculating, but I am confused about the two tiers of consumption. (My usual mentor on this is not available at the moment and my head is spinning with trying to remember how I did it last time.)

Is anyone in Brisbane charging for water, or know how agents are doing so. I don't imagine they are getting down on hands and knees and reading meters but equally how can a meter reading that is three months old be used if the tenants have changed.

This is doing my head in.

#### Sheryn

Wylie

In NSW our PM takes off the fixed fee and charges the tenants the consumptions charge

Example
Consumptions charge \$84.70 (tenants are billed this amount by PM)
Fixed Fee \$32.50 ( we pay)
Total amount due \$117.20

Hope this helps
Sheryn

#### wylie

Thanks Sheryn, but the consumption charge is from nearly three months ago on the rates notice.

I have generally read the meter each time I get a rates notice, but this is really messy and I just wondered whether there is an easier way.

#### Fudge

Wylie

In NSW our PM takes off the fixed fee and charges the tenants the consumptions charge

Example
Consumptions charge \$84.70 (tenants are billed this amount by PM)
Fixed Fee \$32.50 ( we pay)
Total amount due \$117.20

Hope this helps
Sheryn

Sheryn,

Do this suggest that you have a 3 star WELS rating or higher, in order to pass the full amount onto the tenant.

In Qld, this is what is required, otherwise you can charge a proportion of the water use. The value that is called the proportion is up for debate. (I have heard that it is an average of 200l/d/person)

Wylie,

Provided that you have previous water notices with the tenant, an average can be taken. Then depending on when your tenant vacates the property, you can then work out how much you are due (based on last rates notice) (i.e. if he finished up 30 days into the next quarter, it would be 30/91 * last rates notice.)

Within the last couple of months, I have settled on a property, and to get the final figure for settlement, this is how the conveyancer determined the final costs of purchase.

On a side note, I have just sent the plumber around to bring one of my other houses up to the '3 star WELS rating' in order to charge the tenant the full amount (apart from fixed charges). All rates notices mid tenancy will be paid within 1 month of passing it to the tenant (as per RTA fact sheet) and the final one will be extrapolated to come to an estimate. (Based on the tenants previous history).....just hope the tenants don't leave the hose running for the last couple of months.

Cheers,

F

Post Note: With regards to the 2 tiers, I think once you have used an allocated amount of water for tier 1, you get billed at a higher rate for tier 2, as you are not as 'water savvy' as other uses. I don't know, this would be my guess. I have to admit, I noticed a 2 tier structure for my Logan City property the other night, but haven't sat down to scrutinise it. Tier 2 kicks in after 56kl and then I get charged more for any remaining amount I use.

My thoughts are.....if you dont have the three wells water efficiency, the tenant will be paying any amounts greater than what is stated in the tenancy agreement, and this would be charged at the higher rate.

#### Sheryn

Sheryn,

Do this suggest that you have a 3 star WELS rating or higher, in order to pass the full amount onto the tenant.

Fudge
Don't know about WELS but our 2 rental properties are reasonably new (2009 & 2008) and comply with NSW BASIX requirements eg underground recycled water tank to flush toilets.

#### Fudge

Fudge
Don't know about WELS but our 2 rental properties are reasonably new (2009 & 2008) and comply with NSW BASIX requirements eg underground recycled water tank to flush toilets.

OK Sheryn,

Must be different up here north of the border.

I think we are on the same wavelength though. It is a certain standard of water efficency, and in order to pass on the total water consumption costs to the tenant, the property needs to meet these rules:

*Minimum water effcient standard required
• Internal cold water taps and single mixer taps (excluding bathtub taps and taps for appliances)
Must have a maximum fow rate of 9 litres per minute.
• Showerheads Must have a maximum fow rate of 9 litres per minute.
• Toilets Must have a dual fush function that does not exceed 6.5 litres on full fush and 3.5 litres on half fush and has a maximum average fush
volume of 4 litres (based on the average of 1 full fush and 4 half fushes).

Also, new properties are energy efficient, water efficient, etc, as per requirements in building code.

Cheers,

F

#### mkraus

G'day Wylie,

I recently included the payment for water usage in a new lease for the tennants in one of my properties instead of upping the rent. I still pay the fixed water access fee, but they will pay the usage. As the end of the lease and the water bill period did not coincide, I will apply the daily rate by the number of applicable days in the new lease period.

I will still pay BCC the full rate amount, and the tennants will have 4 weeks to pay me back from when I inform them of the bill. I believe it is standard BCC practice to send residents (not just owners) the water consumption information in line with water usage awareness etc.

I had a "water wise" inspection done on that property a couple of years ago and felt this justified that the property was at a reasonable level of water efficiency.

Have a look here for further details: http://www.tuq.org.au/pdfs/CHANGES_TO_WATER_PROVISIONS.pdf

Good luck and let me know if you want any more info.

MK

#### marg4000

MK, before you can charge tenants for water you MUST have a plumber certify that the property meets water efficient standards.
Marg

#### mkraus

My "Water Wise" certificate was done by a plumber and ticks all of the boxes in terms of toilets, taps etc being water efficient, so I think that should do it?

MK

#### marg4000

Check with the RTA. Your water wise certification may have been different to ours.
Marg

#### Fudge

Check with the RTA. Your water wise certification may have been different to ours.
Marg

I spoke to the RTA about this last week, to find out how can you tell whether the property has been water wised.

She said there is no such certificate, but you could get a signed statement from your plumber, and pass that with a copy of the water facts guidelines to your tenant, in order for them to pay.

What I would like to see happen, is that you get a certificate for the works, and it could be passed onto council and kept with records. When I recently bought a duplex, I couldn't tell if it was 'water wised' or not, so got a plumber in, bescause the tenant wanted to see some assurance that it was. Plumber came out and charged the \$90 call out fee for the 2 units and spent 5 mins there and said yep it is.

What have you got Marg. Did you get your plumber to sign something?

Cheers,

F

#### marg4000

Organised through PM. From memory the account had a statement on it about the water efficiency of the property and meeting requirements to charge the tenants for water usage.
Marg

#### wylie

We have the statement from the plumber who came out for the water audit organised via the BCC or the Gov (cannot remember). Nobody seems to know if that is enough, but it is enough for me. If is signed off by a plumber.

#### 65fbk

Not really relevant to this discussion, but I just got a \$665 QUARTERLY water bill for my slum in Sydney..
I think its time to look into the NSW tenancy terms wrt water consumption!

#### marg4000

Wow!! And here I was hopping up and down about a \$325 quarterly bill - but fortunately I was able to have the tenants pay.
Marg

#### INVSTOR

G'day Wylie,

I will still pay BCC the full rate amount, and the tennants will have 4 weeks to pay me back from when I inform them of the bill. I believe it is standard BCC practice to send residents (not just owners) the water consumption information in line with water usage awareness etc.

I had a "water wise" inspection done on that property a couple of years ago and felt this justified that the property was at a reasonable level of water efficiency.

Have a look here for further details: http://www.tuq.org.au/pdfs/CHANGES_TO_WATER_PROVISIONS.pdf

Good luck and let me know if you want any more info.

MK

I have my waterwise certificate and it is writen in lease tenants will pay for water usage on Qld property. Just realised I've paid water usage. What do you usally do, scan/photocopy and send water usage page to property manager?

#### Fudge

I have my waterwise certificate and it is writen in lease tenants will pay for water usage on Qld property. Just realised I've paid water usage. What do you usally do, scan/photocopy and send water usage page to property manager?

Yep. Simple for an ongoing tenant. Just send it to you PM, and the tenant has 1 month to pay.

A bit trickier for when the tenants leave and you have to do either:

1. get your PM to take reading on vacating the premises, and then times the difference in readings with the water rate, or
2. record how many days he was your tenant from your last quarters notice. Divide this number by 91.25 and times it by the water charge.

Refer to attached form. Explains everything....I think.

Cheers,

F

#### Attachments

• water.pdf
152.9 KB · Views: 145

#### INVSTOR

Thanks Fudge, sorted.

Last edited:

#### wylie

My question is "How do your PMs manage this? Do they read the meters at the start of a tenancy, and read them again when the rates bill comes in so they can work out how many kilolitres have been used by each tenant in each property?"

This is what we have been doing, but it must be a pain to do when you have a couple of hundred to do. I believe many PMs are not doing this, and letting the landlord pay for water. Is that pretty much the case?

Because the meter readings by BCC are three months behind, we have a few options that I can see.

1. Read the meter at the beginning of the lease. When the first rates/water account issues, read the meter again and work out manually how much water they have used. This is a pain, but really the only way I can see of having the money reimbursed. This is how we have been doing it, but it does my head in, especially now we have taken over management of my parents' portfolio. Suddenly I have a lot of meters to read.

2. If we are too lazy to read the meters every quarter, we could wait for the rates notice that covers the water usage for when they were definitely already in the house and copy the usage page and charge them exactly what is on the page. This is an easy option but could mean we end up paying up to three months' water cost at the start and end of each tenancy. Water cost is fairly cheap, but I believe it will increase (and SHOULD increase to make people more accountable) and frankly, I don't want to pay for the tenants' water use.

So, I wonder if you could actually ask your PMs how they do this. One PM we used to let a house was surprised that we wanted to charge for water usage, so I assume that unless a landlord insists on it, perhaps most agents are still just having landlords pay for water.

Tenants being able to pay for water usage is still fairly new in Brisbane that I think perhaps people are slow to wake up to the fact that they are paying for water use by their tenants that could be passed on.

What do you think?

I am also hoping that now the water usage has been split from the main rates bill and issues separately, that this might mean that we can look forward to tenants signing up for water use like they do for electricity, gas and telephone...... but I won't hold my breath.

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