Tenants could face water charges

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 10:56 05/06/2014

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Kapiti Observer

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Landlords have been warned to revamp tenancy agreements as the countdown begins to water meter charging.

The warning from Kapiti's council comes as it gets rapped over the kuckles by councillor Jackie Elliott for potential problems created between renters and landlords.

Elliott said landlords could be liable for any unpaid water usage, but tenants could also be forced to pay water-use bills without actually receiving the quarterly invoice from the council.

She said ''confusion reigns'' over metering and it would be the biggest public relations disaster in the council's history.

However, yesterday infrastructure services group manager Sean Mallon said the council would be advising landlords to review tenancy agreements before charging kicked in on July 1.

He said invoices for water use would  be issued in the name of the property owner, as the supply of treated water to the district is a council service.

''Therefore, the associated costs are covered in rates and the ratepayer is liable.

" However, this does not mean landlords can't pass on water use costs to their tenants.''

Mallon said this could be specified on agreements, similar to lawn-mowing, or gardening  arrangements on contracts.

''If landlords decide their tenants will pay for water use costs, it will be up to them as to how they collect the money.''

Landlords could collect the volumetric charge from tenants or raise rents to cover costs.

''If tenants are asked to pay the volumetric charge separately from rent, they can ask their landlords to show them water invoices.''

Ratepayers will receive a fixed annual charge, and a volumetric charge based on how much water is used at the property.

Meanwhile, Mallon said the council had nothing to do with tenancy agreements, regardless of how the cost is covered. 

"It has no legal relationship with tenants or landlords and has no involvement with the drawing up of agreements."

RENTAL INFORMATION

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment gives information about water charges in rentals via its tenancy advice line 0800 836 2629, and its information sheet at dbh.govt.nz/water-charges.

A Kapiti Coast District Council flyer to landlords and tenants providing advice will be posted to properties soon.

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