These Q&As are about the cost of water usage and the benefit of separate water meters in apartments.
Table of Contents:
- QUESTION: We have one water meter covering our six apartments. Our water bill has increased 200% in 12 months due to a new tenant’s continuous watering of her many plants. Can we charge this tenant a special contribution to be paid towards the cost of water?
- QUESTION: We are paying to water a grassed area over a neighbouring unit’s fence on a council easement. Why should we both share this cost in our water bill?
Question: We have one water meter covering our six apartments. Our water bill has increased 200% in 12 months due to a new tenant’s continuous watering of her many plants. Can we charge this tenant a special contribution to be paid towards the cost of water?
Answer: Many communities are favouring the installation of separate water meters to ensure a true user-pays system of water distribution.
The unfair responsibility of water charged by contribution entitlement is a common complaint amongst strata communities and for good reason.
As a greater number of the population move towards consciously introducing sustainable habits into their daily energy and water routines, others prefer to keep their gardens super green and wash their towels twice a day. Many communities are favouring the installation of separate water meters to ensure a true user-pays system of water distribution.
Not only is installing water meters making the user more accountable for their use, monitoring usage is uncovering concealed leaks and mitigating the bill shock of high-water consumption. The bonus for strata investors is that water use, when separately metered, is payable by tenants so owners aren’t responsible for excessive water consumption outside of their control.
This post appears in the March 2022 edition of The NSW Strata Magazine.
Question: We are paying to water a grassed area over a neighbouring unit’s fence on a council easement. Why should we both share this cost in our water bill?
Answer: The easement will indicate whose responsible.
As with all things strata, there are a few things that determine what the scheme is responsible for:
- The strata plan
- Any bylaws (and so if you have passed a common property memorandum – that too will layout what is the scheme’s responsibility).
- Easements etc on the certificate of title
If the garden is on the strata plan or is part of the other unit’s lot then the scheme pays to maintain as if it is part of a lot. The unit entitlement should cover the additional benefit they have by having that area, so they are effectively paying for it through their levy contributions and so it’s been taken into account.
I note though you refer to this area being “over the fence” and on council’s property/easement. The easement will indicate whose responsible. If the council is responsible, then chase them up to maintain it (e.g. lawn mowing etc), however, if it is watering only there are a few pragmatic issues with chasing them over a water bill that is probably in the order of $25pa-
- Does this area improve how your property appears?
- If it does – what would be the cost (or likelihood that council would pay)?
The scenario here it seems is like one’s footpath if not maintained the grass or tree on it will die, but if maintained does it not improve the appearance of your property?
If every household pursued council for the $20 to water their footpath each year they would do nothing else but spend time reconciling the cost and reimbursing, and so this is not done. But also like the footpath, it is highly likely that the easement makes you responsible for it.
So first see what the easement provides but if it rests with Council then the chances you will get them to look after it may be remote. In which case how will that area, if not maintained, detract from your properties?
This post appears in Strata News #346.
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