These Q&A, providing information about a strata water meters have been answered by Jordan Dinga, Abode Strata and Gary Phillips, StrataGP.
Question: We have a shared water meter and divide usage between 4 units. One lot owner is refusing to pay their portion. How do we handle this situation?
We live in a strata complex of 4 units. Units 1 and 2 are privately owned and we own Units 3 and 4.
We share one water meter and divide the water usage between us. However, Unit 2 has not been in their Unit for most of the last 2 years and I have not been charging them for any water.
Just recently in the last few months, we noticed Unit 2 owners have been returning quite frequently and therefore I charged them a share of the water usage. Now they do not want to pay. Also, we do not have a strata levy bank account, we each pay as the bill is due.
Is there something in the legislation saying the strata owner is responsible to pay for water from a shared water meter regardless of occupancy, or do you have any advice on how I should proceed with the matter?
Answer: In order to settle the payment you would have to apply to SAT.
This one can be a little annoying where an owner doesn’t pay their portion of the common property bills and there isn’t any strata police to help. You have done the honourable thing in not charging unit 2 for water that isn’t used by them. However, unfortunately, I would never suggest doing it for this exact reason.
Unless you have meters that say unit 2 has used ‘xyz’ amount of water, the common property water bill should be divided by what is agreed upon by the strata company – which I would suggest is by unit entitlement or simply divided by the number of units.
In order to settle the payment, you would have to apply to SAT. Which might not be worth the amount of money in question.
My best suggestion would be to look into installing separate water meters. Take a look at this information from Water Corp with the further necessary forms for application to install meters.
The costs involved can vary greatly from property to property. This is definitely worth investigation. Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable!
This post appears in Strata News #243.
Question: I have noticed a leak at the water meter to our unit. I believe that we are not responsible for the repair as the fault occurs before the water reaches our water meter.
I have noticed a leak at the water meter to our unit. The leak is not on the unit side of the meter but on the common property side of the meter. The water is not transiting through the meter before leaking out.
Our strata management have told us that we are responsible for the repair as it is within the boundary of our unit. The local water authority has been contacted and informed us they are only responsible for maintenance of water mains up to the front of the unit complex and not inside the unit complex including common property.
I believe that we are not responsible for the repair as the fault occurs before the water reaches our water meter. Can provide some clarity, please?
Answer: If it doesn’t sound right it usually isn’t. In most cases, the Watercorp is responsible for everything their side of the water meter.
There may be variables such as by-laws that allot you the responsibility of repair i.e. if you are closest to the leak. If it doesn’t sound right it usually isn’t. I can only speculate and offer another view. In most cases the Watercorp is responsible for everything their side of the water meter. I think I refer to the Master Meter here. If there are sub-meters for each unit, this would mean you are billed via the Strata Company who gets a single water bill (master meter) for the complex and then takes readings off the sub-meters and subtracts that from the main water account. After all unit usage has been subtracted, the balance is classed as the common water usage and paid for by the Strata Company.
Interestingly, if the water leak is not changing your water meter reading, it would be adding onto the common water supply costs registering on the master meter.
I agree with you and think that this repair should be the cost of the Strata Company as it is the Strata Company’s responsibility to supply utility services to the units usually including your meter. Beyond that is your responsibility unless the boundaries of your lot are set at ground level outside your unit.
Even though the water meter is on common property, there may be by-laws indicating otherwise. As an owner, you can write to the Council of Owners (address to them) c/o your Strata Manager. Indicate you want clarification that the leak is your responsibility via a third party (i.e. a lawyer). A lawyer will look at the strata plan and the by-laws of your complex and cross-reference with the Strata Titles Act. They will return a legal recommendation offering the Strata Company clarification. The Strata Company should be pleased to do due diligence in its governance, as this question will have a bearing for all owners.
Strata Managers are not Lawyers and our interpretation of the Strata Titles Act is changed by the interpretation of another (i.e. Lawyer). As the Strata Company is paying for the leaking water, they should investigate.
You are an Owner and Director of the Strata Company. Therefore you have rights. Always put your concerns in writing addressing it to the Council of Owners c/o the Strata Manager and ask for a response. Remember the Strata Manager works for the Council of Owners. This then creates a written record of yours and their efforts in this matter. It is always useful to have a written record.
I am a firm believer in “Plan B”. In this case plan B would be to fix the matter at your expense but to pursue the Strata Company for clarification and reimbursement. If after plan B no clarification is given, you can then write to Council of Owners c/o the Strata Manager, asking that this matter of responsibility for a leak on the common side of the unit water meter be clarified by a Lawyer. I would even ask about the meter itself. At the next General Meeting of the Strata Company request, this matter is placed on the Notice of General Meeting as an agenda item.
When the matter is raised at the general meeting, discussed if other owners are happy to accept the interpretation of the Strata Manager, that this is your responsibility. Ask that this be minuted and also confirm you will seek clarification independently and if correct you will seek reimbursement from the Strata Company for any costs incurred.
This is the worst-case scenario. If the Strata Company is belligerent in its position a) seek legal clarification b) take the matter to the State Administrative Tribunal for clarification.
Remember short-term thinking leads to long-term problems.
This post appears in Strata News #134.
Note: this is an opinion only and suitable specialists in these areas should be sort for clarification on all points.
Question: Should a damaged water meter be covered by the Building Insurance or the Sinking Fund and not individually by the owner?
I live in a block of ten units. All the water meters are placed by the footpath, uncovered and unprotected. Recently my water meter was vandalised. Although the damage was not major and the water meter is still in good working order, the Water Board says any repairs to a damaged water meter are to be paid by the owner. This is regardless of who, what or when the damaged water meter was done.
Our Strata Manager is saying that our insurance wouldn’t cover the owner’s cost because is not a “maintenance issue”…??? I believe that she is wrong. The bank of water meters is within strata boundaries and is therefore common property, albeit measuring individual unit’s usage.
I believe any cost to repair the damage, in case of property vandalism within the Strata, should be covered by the Building Insurance or the Sinking Fund and not individually by the owner.
Answer: If this is a standalone meter for your unit and neither insurance nor the strata company bylaws covers the issue, it is an exclusive service and as such owner responsibility.
There are a few facts that would need to be established:
- Is this an individual water meter or a sub meter?
- Do the strata company bylaws deal with water/gas/electricity meters?
- Has the question been asked of our insurance company, do they deem the meter to be a fixture to common property and if so is it covered under insurance?
Subject to clarification of the above:
- As the meter is still functioning this is not an essential replacement and as such owner responsibility.
- If this is a standalone meter for your unit and neither insurance nor the strata company bylaws cover the issue, then it is as the strata manager says an exclusive service and as such owner responsibility.
This post appears in Strata News #182.
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