Water is landlords' responsibility: APIA

Thursday 20 September 2012

Auckland Property Investors Association president David Whitburn says he’s pleased to have an answer to the water charge debate, even if it wasn’t the one he wanted.

By The Landlord

The Department of Building and Housing says the $190 fixed wastewater charge levied by Auckland provider Watercare is a landlord/owner charge and should not be passed on to tenants.

Whitburn says he has told his members to pay the charge.

The issue has been in dispute for months, with landlords arguing that because the $190 charge is broken down into a daily rate in Watercare’s bills, tenants should be liable for the portion that relates to the time of their tenancy.

Whitburn said landlords would have to wear it. “And given this it should be in the land rates bill, for administrative ease.”

It follows a Tenancy Tribunal decision in a case where the parties were seeking clarification of the tenant’s liability to pay for wastewater charges.

The tenancy in question stared in 2008 and the tenant was liable for water rates but not wastewater charges because they were included in the Rodney Council rated bill.

When the way the water was charged changed – as all Auckland water charges were when the new super council came into effect, the landlord sought clarification on whether the charges could be claimed from the tenant.

The adjudicator ruled that it would not generally be acceptable for a landlord to require a tenant to pay for wastewater.

“In order to change the current arrangement, there needs to be evidence, either written or oral, of an amended agreement, whereby both parties freely agreed to change the existing terms of the tenancy.”

Whitburn said: “Whilst I am slightly disappointed with the outcome, I do value certainty. APIA hopefully with the full support the entity it affiliates to, in the NZ Property Investors' Federation hopes to lobby Central Government for a law change for what the best outcome is: water accounts to be in the names of the consumer, just like power accounts.”

Comments from our readers

On 20 September 2012 at 4:49 pm Grant Turnpenny said:
I agree all water charges should be paid by the tenant.
On 20 September 2012 at 6:32 pm Sharon Ruis said:
That is so for Tenancy agreement post July 2012 but not for older agreements http://www.dbh.govt.nz/water-charges
On 20 September 2012 at 8:02 pm Tracy said:
We have more than 1 rental property in AKL. The water bill for one in the original ACC region has water charges broken down into Volumetric which is further broken down into a. water and b. wastewater. There is then a separate charge for Wastewater under Fixed Charges. So presumably we can oncharge all the volumetric charges (water + a proportion of wastewater) to the tenant? Conversely, in another property on the North Shore, the billing consists of just 2 charges 1. Volumetric water and 2. Fixed charges for wastewater. This leaves us then unable to oncharge any of the wastewater charges to the tenant - despite some of them existing as a result of their water consumption? Does anyone have the same situation and can tell why there is a difference between these 2 bills - shouldn't they both break out the wastewater into volumetric and fixed?

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