Water changes outrage landlords

Friday 8 June 2012

Auckland property investors are furious about changes to the way water is paid for in the city.

By Susan Edmunds

Watercare has announced it is increasing its charges by roughly 3 per cent but it is the new uniform fixed rate of $190 per meter per year, imposed across the region, which is really upsetting landlords.

Legally, landlords cannot pass on the fixed-rate portion of a water bill to their tenants, only the usage bill of 2.28c per 1000 litres. Water meters must be in the name of the property owner.

Auckland Property Investors Association president David Whitburn said how much of an impact the changes would have would vary across the region.

While $190 a year was cheaper than what people had been paying in Manukau, in Waitakere, which previously had not charged a fixed rate, the difference would be significant.

“I have 12 properties in Waitakere - $190 times 12 is a significant amount. It’s an extra charge, out of the blue, for me.”
Properties without a meter will be charged a fixed rate $582 a year.

Whitburn said water was the number one concern of property investors at the moment. He had been lobbying the council and Watercare on investors’ behalf but believed a legislature change was needed from central Government to require tenants to pay for their own water.

“Isn’t it like power, or anything else they consume?”

He was also exasperated by Watercare’s move to bill monthly. Waitakere had previously billed at six-monthly intervals and other areas quarterly.

He said it was a major administrative hassle to get the bill and forward it to tenants so they could pay for metered usage. Some property management companies had staff who spent much of their time working solely on water bills, he said. Their workload looked set to increase many times over.

When asked why Watercare required meters to be in the landlord’s name, Whitburn said he was told that it was because investors had deeper pockets than tenants and were less of a security risk.

Comments from our readers

On 12 June 2012 at 7:26 am Geoffrey McRae said:
This is outrageous. On one hand the landlord is contractually responsible to the tenant meaning the tenant has the legal use of the property for a period of time but this right whilst reconised in law is not by the water company. All they need to do is get a water bond from the tenant and cut it off if he does not pay. How hard is that. Not funny.
On 12 June 2012 at 8:39 am Barry said:
Surely the waste water was in the land rates so they will go own to compensate for the change in water billing. LOL
On 12 June 2012 at 9:30 am Tony FF said:
Why have a "fixed" charge....whats wrong with a "minimum" charge based on usage? Watercare is being lazy...the user/tenant should pay them not the property owner...its no different to power usage. Time to change this mentality Watercare...stop acting dumb.
On 12 June 2012 at 11:04 am David Moore said:
Tenants pay for the fixed rate of power supply (supply charge) so why not the same for water???
On 12 June 2012 at 11:45 am James said:
I am absolutely outraged at Watercare Services ability to dictate and effectively monopolise water rates. They are a separate entity to the council, yet the council own 100% shares in them - this effectively pushes accountability away from the council. Their 8th performance measurement in their financial document is "Sound Financial Management" - utter rubbish - one of their performance rulers is even measured as "Salaries assessed on performance" - I gather that means the more profit the "company" makes, the more the individual makes. Their financial statements show an increase in revenue from $199 million in 2010, to $373 million in 2011 - almost doubled in one year, but has the housing density doubled? No! Have we got twice the infrastructure in place. No! This is not democracy, this is literally communism... I am doing a development at the moment where I have to pay $7,000 in "infrastructure growth charges" - because I'm "putting extra load on the water system". Are you kidding me? I have friends paying in excess of $20,000 for the same so I even got off lightly! I also quote "From 1 July 2011, Watercare was able to reduce the price of water to $1.30 (including GST) per 1,000 litres, a region-wide price cut. This is due to the efficiencies generated by having a single water company" So whats happened since? And we wonder why so many are leaving our shores for Australia. SO so angry...
On 14 June 2012 at 3:10 pm jeff berge said:
The whole setup is council controlled revenue gathering. The actual cost for water supply and waste water bears no relation to the charges they are levied. Whilst every major elected wants to leave some outrageously priced legacy as a monument to himself things like this will never change. Maybe its about time that everyone stopped paying their bills as they cannot cut the water off to everyone. When every business is looking to cut costs how can monthly billings be cheaper. How many extra staff will be employed to cover the extra invoicing? Another monopoly out of control!
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