When the water bill goes unpaid. | Rental rants | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered
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My friendly local agent has just closed is doors after leaving the water bill unpaid for six months – having pocketed my share along the way. He sold his rental roll to another agency who, after nearly two months, are yet to contact the water authority so the notices are piling up on the floor of the old agent’s office. I just received notification that my water will be cut off next week. Each agent is now blaming the other for this mess and I intend to simply pay the water bill myself as it remains unpaid and deduct it from next months rent on the basis that I cannot be expected to pay a month’s rent in advance for a property which will have the water disconnected during the same month. Why is water handled like this? Why don’t tenants simply pay the whole bill – and this be reflected in slightly lower rents – so that our essential services are not at the mercy of hopeless agents (plural) and ultimately owners are not exposed to potentially huge expenses from tenants being forced to find temporary alternative accommodation?
I agree with you, but unlike Electricity Retailers, Water Utilities regard the property owner as their Customer, primarily because the old charging regime for water and sewerage charges was based on land value (like Council Rates) – not water used or sewage discharged.
As a tenant, you’re only liable for the water usage component of the Account, but I don’t see any way of avoiding disconnection of the supply other than as you suggest, to pay the entire Account and make an adjustment to your next rent payment. Just make sure you keep records, and advise your current Agent in writing / e-mail about what you’re proposing to do; that is before you do it!
Normally I’d say be very careful about not paying your full rent, regardless of the reason, but if your water supplier is Sydney Water you can pay the outstanding charges in lieu of rent.
According to the Tenants Union website receipts from Sydney Water count as rent receipts. A factsheet on utilities on the website also provides a form letter you can send to the agent called ‘Unpaid Sydney Water charges’.
Have a look on the TU website page on Utilities to get the full picture.
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