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Unpaid water bills South Australia

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by pete_pumpkin, 11th Dec, 2015.

  1. pete_pumpkin

    pete_pumpkin New Member

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    Hi I have an issue with both of my IP's where both lots of tenants have now fallen behind in paying their water to the sum of around $1000 each.

    Both properties were behind in rent also so the PM (LJ Hooker Salisbury) had taken them to the tribunal and had them put on payment plans. The PM advised me that the rent needs to be taken care of first. My concern is that even once this has been taken care of, that the additional $70 or so that is being paid weekly will not cover the outstanding water bills in a timely fashion. The bills just keep adding up.

    I'm at a point now where I can't afford to pay the bills that have just arrived.

    What are my options? Can I simply not pay the bill and ask the SA water to restrict the water flow etc? Where would this leave me legaly?
     
  2. bob shovel

    bob shovel Well-Known Member

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    Do SA water have hard ship type agreements, where you come forward and say I got no money and they assist somehow. I know Sydney water does, you have to be low income earner etc etc

    Are the water bills going direct to the pm? You should set that up if not so they can handle it
     
  3. pete_pumpkin

    pete_pumpkin New Member

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    The bills are under my name so I'm not sure how the hardship thing would go. Personally I wouldn't want that recorded under my name (hardship) for possible future business implications - if the bills were under the tenants name then they could go through the procedure, but I don't think SA law works that way. ie I pay the water bills and the tenants are supposed to reimburse me in full. If I reach a stage that I have no other option then I will try and talk SA water and come to some arrangement - It just doesn't sit well with me as it's not me using the water. Looking at the relevant legislation it appears that I'm responsible in paying the water. I think my only hope is to follow the terms of the lease agreement and issue breaches. Tenants can only afford to pay so much so it will be up to the tribunal to decide on what happens next, I guess. I may be able to evict them if the continue to breach, but in doing so I'm not sure whether the bond will cover outstanding costs - it's a balancing act.

    DIVISION 11—RATES, TAXES AND CHARGES
    Rates, taxes and charges
    73. (1) It is a term of a residential tenancy agreement that the landlord must bear all statutory
    rates, taxes and charges imposed in respect of the premises.
    (2) However, rates and charges for water supply are to be borne as agreed between the landlord
    and the tenant.
    (3) In the absence of an agreement—
    (a) the landlord will bear the rates and charges for water supply up to a limit fixed or
    determined under the regulations; and
    (b) any amount in excess of the limit is to be borne by the tenant
     
  4. bob shovel

    bob shovel Well-Known Member

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    Might be best to call your pm asap and check the lease agreement and also see if they'll take the water bills for you.
    @D.T. Might be the man to talk to
     
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  5. Johnny Cashflow

    Johnny Cashflow Well-Known Member

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    I hate the system this state has for water bills.

    It should work the same as electricity.

    If I were you I would be getting these tenants out asap. I doubt they are going to catch up. Your PM is to blame for letting it get so out of hand.

    Another useless PM agency in SA
     
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  6. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    I don't think water can be restricted as it is an essential supply. Legally you have the one liable for the debt to SA water and you have a contract with the tenant so they are liable to you. You would have to pay the bill and then attempt to recover the money from the tenant.
     
  7. WestOz

    WestOz Well-Known Member

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    Is this the same PM that allowed the situation to get to this in the first place? If so I'd say you have more probs than just dept.
    Get a new PM and perhaps seek some legal advice re compensation from the current one.
     
  8. D.T.

    D.T. Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    How did this actually happen? (Other than the agency's arrears policy sucks) Did tenant lose their job or something?

    It sounds like the agency only went to tribunal for rent arrears and haven't been for water arrears?

    Is it a fixed lease? When is it due to end? Does the lease specify an arrangement for water or the default SA stance? Have you been paying them then scan/emailing them through to the agency?

    Answering these might paint a better picture of what your options are. Unfortunately you can't just turn it off.

    See also Tenancy Tip Thursday - Who pays water?
     
    Last edited: 12th Dec, 2015
  9. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    This is exactly what happens - Landlord pays and tenant reimburses landlord.

    The good news Pete is that it can be recovered from bond at the end of the lease, however it does not help you now.

    I'm assuming they are sticking to the payment plan of $70 per week?
    I'm also assuming that the $70 payment plan was a tribunal order? Was the order for both water invoices and rent?

    I'm not understanding why the extra money is going to rent invoices first? are they also behind in rent?

    The PM needs to be right on top of the payment plan, one day late can trigger a default. The PM should ask for a self executing order if they are unable to get vacant possession straight away.

    Also you may want to look at not renewing the lease then making a claim on the bond and possibly insurance claim if they are also in rent default.

    If you want to put up some specifics - how much rent is owed, what the order was actually for (rent or water invoices), how many breach notices they got etc, I would be able to advice you further and more specifically.

    good luck
     
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  10. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    also both properties are on a $70 per week extra payment plan? How did that come about?
     
  11. Corey Batt

    Corey Batt Finance Strategist Business Plus Member

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    Use the usual tools to gain back the money owed - just the same as rent owed.

    What I find more concerning is that you have said you cannot meet the payment of the latest bills. Considering water isn't a *huge* expense in the total IP costs, it sounds like your budget might be significantly strained and leave yourself open should rates even increase nominally from their current historical lows - some food for thought outside of this temporary issue (unless its related to the lack of rent of course).
     
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  12. jim1964

    jim1964 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I believe they will and can restrict water flow to a trickle.I pushed the boundaries with them refusing to pay for someone elses water,it was a drawn out process but at the 11th hour SA Housing stepped in and paid the bill, yay the taxpayer!!
     
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  13. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    For who?
     
  14. jim1964

    jim1964 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    For SA Water, dont want them going broke from defaulting landlords with tenants using them as the Bank ! The Gov will sell SA Water soon to fund the new Murray Bridge prison & racecourse...
     
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  15. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    oh SA housing paid the water bill for the tenant.
    Interesting.
     
  16. jim1964

    jim1964 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    This has happened on numerous occasions,mainly Mount Barker/Murray Bridge.
     
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