Thursday, April 17th, 2014
Note: I am not a lawyer and have no qualification to offer legal advice. However, if this issue is relevant, you might contact the authorities listed at the bottom of this article to pursue your stolen money. Also, I hope at least some people stop paying illegal water bills to Tasmanian landlords. This article includes research conducted by my partner and I because my property manager emailed an illegal water bill.
If you are renting a unit (in a block of units) in Tasmania there is a good chance your landlord is passing on water bills that are illegal. If so, you may even be entitled to ask for all of that money returned.
The issue is that Tasmanian landlords and property managers (like BluEdge Property) don’t have the right to chop up a water bill into (say six) parts. If there is only one water meter to the property then it would be illegal to merely divide the water component of that bill by (for example six) units. It would be arbitrary… either for the number of rooms (on the assumption that more rooms means more responsibility for usage), the number of tenants (assuming more people use more water), or time into the tenancy agreement (assuming a linear progression of water usage over time).
An added complication that makes this type of billing impossible (and therefore unfair) is that unit occupancies stagger through a billing period. So whatever the billing regime that calculation was based on it would be a guess. And landlords may try to dupe you by saying it’s in your Tenancy Agreement or they have sighted the bill. Or that the Act says metered to the property (a meter on the property), when it means metered to the part of the property that you are legally responsible for as a tenant.