Over monthly water billing

Question from Kav updated on 8th February 2013:

Is there anything being put forward to the Government in regards to the changing ownership of the water accounts to tenants? It is impossible to manage monthly bill cycles. It feels I am working as a debt collector for Watercare.

Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:

In numerous other parts of New Zealand where water meters have not been installed in residential properties, the local authority’s rates invoices charge all water services to the property owner. As there is no means of assessing how much water is used by a tenant, there is no way of on-charging any water charges to the tenant. The owner of the property is ultimately responsible for all local authority charges relating to the property. The Residential Tenancies Act allows a landlord to recover from a tenant any water costs that have been invoiced by the supplier on the basis of consumption. Therefore, water meters enable a landlord to on-charge part of the water costs that he/she would have otherwise borne in total. There is no difference to the owner’s liability to pay the local authority charges. However, because the usage is able to be quantified, a property owner can on-charge the metered usage to the tenant. (Perhaps the glass can be regarded as half full rather than half empty.)

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