APIA Blog

RSS Feed

Watercare - Just What Is The Deal?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Captain Obvious says, 'We are sick and tired of paying for our tenants' water'

It pretty much goes without saying that Auckland landlords are not the biggest fan of WaterCare at the moment.  Instead of billing property occupiers/tenants/end users direct for water use, the baffling logic of WaterCare elects to bill property owners instead.  
 
Unfortunately in the case of residential tenancy, it means that

Landlords get billed for Tenants' Water Use.

We have particular difficulty in reconciling this billing practice with logic.  If telephone and power companies are able to bill end users/tenants direct, then why involve the landlord when it comes to water?  The argument that part of the water bill relates to infrastructure costs to be borne by the owner can only carry WaterCare so far.  Surely landlords own the pipes just as much as the power and telephone cables? 
 
WaterCare's solution to landlords? 

Pass on the water charges to your tenants

Easier said than done.  We have stayed mum on this matter for a while because we want to make absolutely sure that our members are being given the right information.  After consulting with lawyers, the Department of Building and Housing, Office of Rex Maidment, Principal Tenancy Adjudicator, we are finally able to find out what can and cannot be passed on to tenants. 
 

For metered water premises, the test is two-fold

  1. Are there separate meters for each tenancy?  A separate meter is the only way for you to work out what water can be attributed to the tenant's occupancy of the premises.  If there is no separate meter for each tenancy then you simply cannot pass anything on to the tenants.  A typical situation of this would be a block of flats sharing one single water meter. 
  2. The second enquiry looks at whether a charge can be attributed to the tenant's occupancy.  As yourself, will you still be charged for a particular amount if the property is not occupied?  If the answer is yes then that charge is related to infrastructure which cannot be passed on. 
To make life a lot easier, we have spied this quick and easy video presentation by Scotney Williams, Principal of Tenancy Practice Service.  



It Gets Worse


To add insult to injury, WaterCare has recently made the stunning move to monthly billing making the process all the more unfeasible for landlords. 
 
A typical waterbill looks like this

The charges that can be passed on to tenant are that of water volumetric charges and wastewater volumetric charges.  Using figures from the above the full amount permissible for landlords to pass on is $34.48.  For most landlords who hold down a 9-5 job, the administrative time involved in chasing a $34.48 debt every month is simply not practicable.  


What if the Tenant Does Not Pay?

If the tenant does not pay the $34.48 the only thing the landlord can do is to issue a 14-days notice demanding payment.  If that has not been complied with then the landlord can enforce the notice through the Tribunal. 
 
Now, I am a big fan of 14-day notice, if the tenant is late on rent?  BAM!  14-day notice for them to remedy.  If the tenant has caused damage to the property?  BAM!  14-day notice.  It is a civilised way of telling the other party, Hey, I mean business.
 
Having said that, I am not entirely convinced that an outstanding $34.48 can justify a 14-day notice and then potentially another $20.44 for a Tribunal hearing application in order to enforce the notice.  This is precisely what my Chinese grandma would call Mincing Meat With a Big-A$s Cleaver
 

Changes Must Happen

That's right.  We are not in the habit of lying down and die.  Auckland landlords are essentially becoming WaterCare's debt collector in gratis - this is by far the number one complaint we receive from our members.  Although our lobbying efforts so far at a local and national level have fallen on deaf ears, we are not ready to call it a day.  Once the APIA Elves return from our holiday there will be a series of members initiatives in the pipeline for us to have another good go at this issue.  In the mean time, we ask members to leave a comment below about what you believe is the strongest argument we can bring on your behalf to the Council and WaterCare in order to rectify the current situation.

What are your views on the current rules relating to water charges in Auckland.  Leave your comment below.

Recent Posts


Tags

anti-social behaviour yield ird watercare equity Editor's Choice warm up new zealand trespass buying education television rent increase mortgage maintenance off the plan relationship retaliatory notice skill shortage productivity tenancy services holiday house Market report Q&A debt enforcement ask an expert Guest blog Property (Relationships) Act personal growth heating HHS mindset banking fixed-term tenancy CCC Question and answer rta reform partners property value cgt boarding house damage beginner investor Sponsored post insurance heater minor dwelling will commerce commission principal and interest letting financial advisers act nzpif insulation development letting fee quiet enjoyment rta RBNZ landlord anz gluckman report investor tenant advice robert kiyosaki termination apia shortland chartered accountants Jeff Bezos legal buying rules income Investor story property management shower dome lvr cat privacy p lab renovation bankruptcy wins cash-flow return property maintenance covid-19 opes partners LIM twg report bad tenant positive cash flow investment strategy kiwibuild Gluckman election2020 sale and purchase management airbnb meth contamination interest only property apprentice HSWA business rental wof property water bill HHGA trademe house prices reserve bank Holler extractor fan Investment tip Must knows rent housing affordability re agent unitary plan bond short-term rental tenancy tribunal clnz smoke alarm capital gain auckland council Case study building rent arrears negotiation parry v inglis housing bubble inspection Level 4 ring-fencing meth rental market initio DTI buyer's agent market How to Kris Pedersen Mortgages and Insurance government election 2017 bond form warren buffett asbestos worksafe tax recycling equity barfoot and thompson brightline RTAA 2019 speculator structure sale and purchas early termination winz market rent ocr Tribunal case study scotney williams first home buying wealth creation Must know interest rates Standards New Zealand khh Landlording trust finance tenancy issues TCIT rtaa2020 property cycle auckland ventilation subdivision CoreLogic data security sublease

Archive

Introducing Our Partners
Principal Sponsor - Kris Pedersen Mortgages & Insurance logo Gold Sponsor - Barfoot & Thompson logo Gold Sponsor - CoreLogic logo Property Apprentice logo The Insulation Warehouse logo The Renovation Team logo The New Zealand Property Investors' Federation logo
09 360 2376
info@apia.org.nz

The Tenancy Practice Service and TPS Credit Control work closely with the Auckland Property Investors' Association. Our vision of bringing helpful resources, documents and high quality services to Auckland Property Investors and Property Managers is shared by APIA, so its a partnership that works well. 

The Auckland Property Investors' Association is a great organisation for those who want access to advice and information from a range of industry experts and partners. 



Mathieu Holt- Managing Director, The Tenancy Practice Service & TPS Credit Control
Through the Association I found the channels and methods to fund the purchase of property I never dreamed about. Grant Brown

All round it has been one of those things Neil and I felt was really worthwhile belonging to. We have learned so much it has just built our confidence in what we are doing.

Janice Bieleski
I read two articles in the monthly magazine that saved me over $5,000. That is my membership fee for the next 26 years and I am sure I will learn a whole lot more! John Duncan
Fantastic organisation. The networking opportunities are brilliant and provide us with information and opportunities that cannot be obtained anywhere else. We learn something new at every meeting and we've been in this game for nearly 20 years. Pauline and Gyanen Kumar

I find the information obtained from various APIA meetings very useful in guiding my own property investment and rental management.  I also enjoy the networking opportunities with like-minded investors.  I am inspired by other investors’ success and find the more experiences and knowledge that I share with others, the more confident I become.  

Thanks to all APIA event organizers and administrators for your brilliant work. 

Stella Shao

I like talking to people and learning from their experience because it gives me the confidence to invest well. I think it is a knowledge thing. I now know I am doing things the right way.

Stephen Weatherall

My APIA membership has become a total success.

Every time I attend a monthly or regional meeting I come away with so many useful and positive tips that have added value to my property investments and management.

Not only that, the website is a great place for practical advice and useful information. It has now evolved into an important resource for my business.

Talk about value for money! The discounts I have been getting at Bunnings when I present my APIA membership card have more than paid for my annual subscription!

Tim Duffett, Plan A Investments Limited