Hi, For those that don't know, in Queensland from 1 April 2008 the RTA have made a new rule so that lessors can pass on the full amount of the tenants 'water consumption', provided the house is water efficient.
My question is: is a waterwise service good enough to satisfy this?
Now in the past I have always told my agent to state on the lease that the tenant pay for water. RTA law states that they only have to pay over what a 'reasonable amount' is, so I did my homework and came up with a figure for each of my properties based on average usage in the area, and other things, recorded my meters etc. Being very reasonable figures my tenants have never gone over them and as such I have never had to pass on any charges. The whole effort at least is a good safety-net in case I ever had a complete water abuser, I felt.
I have always firmly believed that tenants should pay for all the water they use, since it's really up to them how much they use, provided the house is water efficient… hence I got a waterwise service on my properties before the new RTA rule.
Now I finally get the chance to pass on the water costs. RTA rules state that the home must have flow rate requirements for shower heads of 9L per minute, and flush levels for toilets being 6.5L full flush, 3.5 for half. I was thinking no worries, I got the waterwise service, so I told my agent that (they organised it for me too!). Unfortunately my agent will not put that 'the tenant must pay for water' in the new lease until I have in writing from a licenced plumber my house satisfies these flow rates.. and they won't accept that the waterwise service is good enough! So I rang waterwise and asked if they could put in writing that their service satisfies the RTA requirements, and guess what! They won't do it
Looks like I have to pay for another plumber… So I was wondering if anyone else was getting grief from their agents about this, and is there a solution without wasting more $$$ for nothing?
The issue relating to the legislation is that the at a latter date the tenant may dispute that the premises were actually incorrectly rated against the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme.
In the interim if the tenant agrees in writing at the outset that the tenant was satisfied that the devices were installed and functioning as per the guide this may be sufficient grounds to charge the tenant for water consumption as per an agreement between the Lessor/Owner and the tenant. That the tenant was satisfied as per the guide and the owner then at a latter date during a plumbing job obtains the appropriate certification.
It's interesting to note that the Owner will still be directly billed for water consumption and can on charge the tenant the reasonable amounts as per the agreement and can not levy and late charges on the tenant.
It seems though the responsibility still lies with the owner to ensure that those devices are installed and functioning correctly. Might be worthwhile to prompt property managers to take note during routine inspections that the required equipment is fitted, maintained and correctly functioning.
Thanks for your suggestions Opportunity, I am going to act on both of these by asking the agent to take note of the existance and condition of these devices in the inspections. I will also see if they can add in the special conditions of any new leases that the tenants have noted the water saving devices. I think for the latter, that the agent will react by saying the tenants, like myself, don't have the means to varify that the house meets 3 WELS standards.. but I'll see what they say.
On Entry Condition Form 1a there is space for you to tick that various things are in place and read the meter. We self-manage and have yet to sign a lease after 1 April, but plan to fill out the Form 1a, tick the appropriate boxes as they all were checked by the water audit we had, and sign it, and start charging for water usage. I don't see the problem that the PM is having.
There is plenty of information on the RTA website.
Yes Wylie, I agree, I don't think it should be a problem after a water audit. My only regret was that I didn't know about the RTA requiremnts when I had the water wise services done (before April 1). If I did I could have asked at the time to give me in writing that the property complies.
In the latest move by my agent, and taking the principle of CYOA to a new level.. and despite my trying to convince them on the phone that is is not required… they have stated that it is their 'new' policy that they will have to state on the rental advertisment that tenant pays for water. (that ain't happening!) To note, I asked if any other clients of the agency are charging for water. Answer: out of the 600+ clients for spread between the 6 property managers none are charging for water.