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.
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