Energy efficient appliances | Rental rants | Flat Chat ForumA A A
Frank – congratulations on an innovative, expedient, and not entirely legal solution, unless of course the amount of your Plan's expenditure on the WaterFix® project was budgeted for at a General Meeting, and the individual Lot Owners or Residents and not the Owners Corporation (O/C) were the authorised recipients of that highly subsidised service.
Regrettably, our Plan is not in Sydney Water's area so WaterFix® is not an option for our Owners, but that leads me to another matter that I believe your O/C, as the body who's really responsible for the maintenance of the whole of the complex, should investigate before committing to the fitting of those wireless water meters.
That matter is whether the O/C is or can be legally authorised to on-sell Sydney Water's potable supply, because that's what you're proposing unless of course Sydney Water is going to itself read those meters and invoice the Lot Owners directly.
I'd be interested to know how you go with that.
Whale – despair not – it can be done – here's how.
Don't ask the owners – just decide to do it – here's how we did it – the EC decided that as the only responsible body charged with maintenance of the whole of the complex, we would go ahead and get a Sydney Water WaterFix done for the whole of complex.
This cost something like $25 per unit (maybe $220 subsidized value) – we paid from body corporate funds – and got it done by notice/arrangement – coming on these dates, provide access or pay a call-back fee – done and dusted in short time – and – listen to this – payback was 1 month ! – meaning the next months lower water usage bill recovered the cost of the WaterFix. So – get that done first.
Now – recently – we have decided to install individual wireless water meters to each unit. This will be a big cost – around $1500 per unit – and require a special levy – but here's the beauty – as soon as it is done, owner levys will drop by the amount of the water usage bills, which will then be charged to the previously-wasteful/overcrowding tenants !
You can bet that as soon as the tenants get some big water bills – they will very quickly change their habits of long showers and inviting all their friends over for free showers – as they will be paying the water usage bills in future !
I'm guessing the special levy cost will be paid back by the reduced levies the the first year – tenants change and become water-saving conscious, and owners pay lower strata levies – sweet !
I wonder how many Landlords and Tenants in NSW are aware that S39 (b) of the Residential Tenancies Act (2010) states that water usage charges are only payable by tenants if the premises are separately metered and “contain water efficiency measures prescribed by the Regulations, and…
That the Regulation states at Cl 11(a) “that all showerheads on the premises must have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute”, (b) that “all internal cold water taps and single mixer taps for kitchen sinks or bathroom hand basins on the premises must have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute”, and (c) “that there must be no leaking taps on the premises at the commencement of the residential tenancy agreement or when the water efficiency measures are installed, whichever is the later”.
Perhaps if a few tenants refused to pay for water usage in non-compliant premises, then Landlords would comply with the Legislation and the community as a whole would be better off by saving water; a precious natural resource.
Our Plan’s not separately metered and as all 27 Lots are occupied, and mostly by tenants, our water consumption is steadily increasing and the costs of that to the Owners Corporation is growing at a much more rapid rate because our Water Supply Authority has fiddled with the thresholds (kL) where the unit rates (¢/kL) increase sharply.
So at our last AGM a Resolution was passed requesting all Proprietors to ensure that their Units complied with Legislation concerning water efficiency by a date 3 months hence, and that Landlords instructed their Property Managers to check for and as necessary fix any leaking taps and shower fittings, and faulty toilet cisterns – concurrently with their (not so) regular inspections.
I even offered to coordinate with our plumber and with tenants to ensure that water efficient fixtures and fittings were supplied and installed to all rental units, so that Landlords could then, armed with the plumber’s declaration, claim the Water Efficiency Rebate provided by the local Water Authority – that would by the way have covered almost 70% of the total (S&I) costs.
It’s now 5 months since our AGM, and guess how many Proprietors have complied with the O/C’s request and/or taken up my offer to coordinate with our plumber and with their tenants?
HINT: the answer does not include any number between 1 and 9.
Why? Because in my experience environmental awareness is not even skin deep, unless there’s a demonstrable pay-back within a short timeframe on the expenditure involved in being green, and in the case of our Plan the Proprietors don't see that a benefit to the O/C is a benefit to them individually.
Similarly, why would an owners corporation have inefficient lighting when it would have cost only slightly more to put in more efficient lights that would have paid for themselves in a short time?
A. The developer put in cheap 50W halogens everywhere because they look good for selling and are cheap. The OC and not the developer will have to pay the direct lighting electricity bill, the air-conditioning bill to pump out all the waste heat, and eventually it will pay the bill to retrofit efficient lighting at greater expense than if it had gone in at the start.
Ditto for minimum standard insulation, not having solar hot water as standard and so on.
Still, it is not all the developer's fault. I spoke to one developer trying to make the high environmental standards of his development its selling point. A consequence of good design was that it would not need powered cooling but the units would not sell till he put air-con in.
The NYT points out the problems when landlords choose the appliabces but tenants pay the (energy inefficient) bills:
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