Did you know a change in Queensland legislation now allows for Queensland landlords to pass the cost of water consumption to tenants?
In the prelude to a state-wide overhaul of water billing, landlords are cashing in on new laws that allow them to transfer water consumption costs on to tenants. Previously tenants could only be billed for excess water charges and landlords paid the bi-annual regular council water charges. I encourage landlords to investigate this change immediately, as it will put more money in your pocket.
Landlords who are eligible under the Residential Tenancies Act can now pass the bills to tenants as long as:
* The rental premises has individual water meters.
* The rental premises is fitted with water-efficient devices.
* Tenants sign a tenancy agreement stating they will pay for water consumption.
The Residential Tenancies Authority suggest to note these important points:
* Tenants and lessors/agents should negotiate obligations at the start of the tenancy and put these in the tenancy agreement, for example, if the lessor is to contribute to water costs.
* It may be helpful to contact the local council about average water consumption.
* Water billing periods are unlikely to align with tenancy agreements. It’s important that both the tenant and the lessor/agent make note of the water meter readings on the condition reports at the start and end of the tenancy to calculate water consumption.
* Lessors will receive the water bill, pay for the full amount and should provide their tenants with a copy of any water bills or evidence of water consumption figures to verify the amount to be charged. Tenants will not be billed directly by water supply authorities.
* Tenants have one month to pay the agreed amount for water consumption after the lessor provides evidence of the costs to the tenant. The lessor/agent cannot require the tenant to pay more than the billable amount, or charge tenants late fees.
* If the tenant and lessor/agent cannot agree about water charges, the RTA’s Dispute Resolution Service may be able to assist.
paul wilsonThe eligibility criteria means not all landlords will be able to pass the water consumption cost onto customers. A notable case is high-rise apartment investors who will continue to bear the burden of water usage charges, despite the change in legislation.
Under the State Government’s changes, council-owned companies are being set up to handle regional water distribution. Brisbane-based Queensland Urban Utilities, which caters for five council areas, is already trading and has began separate water bills in January 2010. The Gold Coast utility Allconnex, which will also service Logan and Redlands, will not begin trading until July 1 and is not expected to issue bills until January 2011.