Water meters affect tenants and landlords

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 13:32 28/06/2012
Water
Water meter: A water meter and and backflow preventer, underneath, like the type to be installed across the district by Kapiti Coast District Council.

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Kapiti Observer

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Water meters mean new bills for renters and more work for landlords forced to recoup water charges themselves from tenants.

Kapiti Coast District councillors vote today to approve $8 million funding and contracts to install water meters throughout the district.

In a written response to Kapiti Observer questions, finance group manager Warwick Read said landlords would be legally responsible for the fixed and metered portion of rates.

But once metering begins, the landlord can pass on the metered portion of the charge to renters to pay for the amount they consume, Mr Read said.

"The landlord does not have to do this. He or she can simply include an estimated amount in the general rent or they could choose to absorb it."

Thousands of renters and landlords will be affected by metering charges, set to begin from July, 2014.

Statistics New Zealand figures supplied to the Observer, using 2006 census results, show 3432 Kapiti homes were rented - including 174 Housing New Zealand homes and 84 council-owned flats. There were about 19,000 households in total in Kapiti.

Mr Read said there would be one water bill going out, which would include a fixed-charge component and the water meter charge based on water consumption.

"This bill will be in the name of the owner/landlord of the property. The landlord will receive the bill and pass on any requirement to pay the variable amount to the tenant. The tenant will pay via the landlord, presumably after having seen the bill."

The Department of Building and Housing confirmed the metered portion could be passed on to tenants - without any changes to the written tenancy agreement.

"If a tenant fails to pay the water charges, the tenant may be in breach of their tenancy agreement and the landlord can issue the tenant with a 14 days notice to remedy the breach."

Meanwhile Mr Read said having the legal responsibility would help encourage landlords to fix leaks.

"The landlord is legally responsible for the payment of the entire water bill so if there are leaks on the property then there is an incentive there for the landlord to fix any leaks on the property."

Meter installation is set to be completed by late 2013, with billing to start in mid-2014.

- Tenants and landlords can contact the Department of Building and Housing for advice, 0800 836 262.

WATER CHARGES

Kapiti's renters face a new bill from mid-2014: water. Annual charges using council-estimated averages, for efficient, indoor use only:

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A single pensioner renting their home would pay about $65. A renting couple, about $110. A renting family of three, about $150. A renting family of five, about $202.

Renters with gardens would face significantly higher bills under metering.

- Kapiti Observer

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