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Water bill and real estate

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#1 dessy123

Posted 17 April 2019 - 08:54 PM

I have a dilemma, Ive lived in my current rental property for about 14 months. I have always received unusually high water bills. $300 plus. Which ive never had in any other house ive been in. I have asked realestate to check for leaks, they gound a slight leak in the toilet, which was not enough to expalin these bills. Anyway in frustration, my last resort was to turn of the retic to see if it would make a difference, it did.

But as the weather got warmer i turned it back on, high bills again! Anyway time went on, ive been doing what I can to pay the water bill, in total ive paid over $900 since august last year and I still owe another $860! Received my last bill in march another $300 bill, so again i turned off the retic, a couple weeks later the lawn was looking worse for wear so I turn the retic back on, a few days pass and i realise it hasnt come on at all, i tell the real estate so they send someone out to have a look at it, he tells me its broken, and it had turned itself back to default settings, meaning it was coming on each day, each station for 10 mins! He told me that this is why I have had massive bills.

The next day I receive a letter from my real estate telling me if i dont pay the $860 within 7 days they will take me to court! so I have been emailing my property manager as it seems she is unable to return calls, and she says I should of let her know there was a fault?? I have never been shown how to use my retic and provided no instructions, was told to google when i asked how to use it??

We had made a previous arrangement that I could pay the bill off, at $20 a week, although that hasnt been consistent I have made the odd $50 payment and $200 payment where I can. I have offered to pay half of the remaining balance as I had no way of know that the retic was faulty??

Has anyone dealt with anything like this?  I have called REIWA and they told me that i have a good argument, hate conflict but just want whats fair.

And to make things worse there is a patch of lawn in my back yard that has died, the property manager is assuming from lack of water, but when the other lady came to inspect she thinks its from black bugs. So the property manager insisting its not the retic that was using the water as apparently it hasnt been on due to the patch out the back, yet my front lawn is lush and green..the lawn has always been patchy in that secton..

Edited by dessy123, 17 April 2019 - 08:58 PM.

#2 jayskette

Posted 17 April 2019 - 09:45 PM

whats a retic?

#3 SeaPrincess

Posted 17 April 2019 - 09:48 PM

View Postjayskette, on 17 April 2019 - 09:45 PM, said:

whats a retic?

Actually, I’ve got a bit more to add. When we had a rental house and there was a leak, I’m sure we had to pay one of the bills as well as getting the leak fixed. I’m also in WA, but it was a while ago. The justification was that the leak wasn’t obvious. I would have thought you would notice sprinklers coming on every day, but I’ve realised as I walk with the dog that lots of people don’t notice when theirs are broken, so maybe they don’t.

Edited by SeaPrincess, 17 April 2019 - 09:51 PM.

#4 DaLittleEd

Posted 17 April 2019 - 10:23 PM

I have no professional advice, but I imagine that if the retic was actually broken - as in a leak you couldn't see - you might be able to come to some arrangement about the water bill. But if it is just that it was set for daily long run times, I imagine that would be your responsibility.

#5 SeaPrincess

Posted 17 April 2019 - 10:42 PM

View PostDaLittleEd, on 17 April 2019 - 10:23 PM, said:

But if it is just that it was set for daily long run times, I imagine that would be your responsibility.

They’re not supposed to run daily. We’re on water restrictions, so it’s 2 allocated days/week. Ours used to default back to daily runs if we had a power cut, but we knew that because we had the manual.

#6 dessy123

Posted 17 April 2019 - 11:02 PM

To be honest i never even knew when they came on? It must of been super early in the morning maybe?? I only ever knew they had been on due to the fact the lawn and concrete was wet.  I never took any notice of how often they came on..

#7 Fresh Start

Posted 17 April 2019 - 11:10 PM

A friend bought a new house with an automated sprinkler system. They didn’t realise it was on as it was set to run at 4:30am.

A few months in they got a nasty anonymous letter in the mail that basically said not everyone is asleep early in the morning, we see you watering against restrictions.

They called the agent who’d sold them the property who go on to the previous owner and they found out how to turn it off.

#8 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:32 AM

Sounds 50:50 to me.  The system was broken, or in some sort of error state, and you weren't given proper instructions, so thats not your fault.  But also, watering the garden (or not watering it) is your responsibility, and you should have checked it earlier, especially after those massive bills.  Id go into it asking for a 50:50 split and see what they say.

I dont know where you live, or how big your garden is, but keep in mind that a lot of Australia was really really dry this summer, record breaking dry, so to keep your garden alive you would have had a fairly large water bill anyway. Or you would have a dead garden. (as a renter i didnt give two hoots about our garden, but you might have a particularly nice one).  But also you could have reused grey water etc etc if you had known it was the watering system costing you so much.  SO again its 50:50.

#9 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:39 AM

also, ask for a copy of the previous tenants water usage, thats part of the rental agreement sometimes isnt it? (im in victoria, its different here, we pay our own water bills) Or maybe contact the water company for the data.  That can be your proof that something was broken and its not regular water usage.

#10 SeaPrincess

Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:49 AM

Also, make sure the bills are actually based on meter readings, not just estimates. We regularly get letters from the Water Corp telling us our usage is high, followed by a bill explaining that they finally got around to actually reading the meter and we are ahead because they overestimated.

#11 Greatmum

Posted 18 April 2019 - 05:55 PM

R u supposed to b paying the water landlords pay it here

#12 WTF*A*Lot

Posted 18 April 2019 - 06:23 PM

Some landlords pay it and some don’t.

#13 Luci

Posted 18 April 2019 - 06:31 PM

I am in NSW, I think that renters here have to pay their own excess water bills. I now own my house, it has a watering system that was set to come on every morning. I felt that it was too much so got someone in who knew how to use the system to change it to every second day.

OP if you feel the system is overwatering you should not have to pay for it. Could you ask the agent to get someone in to re program it so it isn’t watering so much?!

#14 Greatmum

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:29 PM

Oh no yes u have to pay excess.

#15 Tinkle Splashes

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:51 PM

REIWA exists to serve the interests of agents,  not tenants. Contact Tenancy WA, a not for profit organisation that exists to assist tenants. http://www.tenancywa.org.au/

#16 IShallWearMidnight

Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:22 PM

That is huge usage. Have you checked  that you are just paying usage, not the rates as well?

Definitely get some advice from tenancy wa, hopefully 50/50 will be an ok compromise

#17 dessy123

Posted 18 April 2019 - 10:42 PM

I contacted tenancy WA looks like I am liable. I have offered to pay half, awaiting a response. If I do go to court I’ve been told I’ll just be put on a payment plan. The retic has now been fixed so hopefully no more big bills cause I’ll be paying this off for a while 😞

#18 **Xena**

Posted 18 April 2019 - 11:26 PM

Where I live all our water bills are around $300. Usage is $30 and apparently the rest is 'upkeep'. So crap.

Edited by **Xena**, 18 April 2019 - 11:27 PM.

#19 DontKnow2015

Posted 19 April 2019 - 06:48 AM

If you are in WA there are two seperate bills that are issued when the property is a rental one. As a landlord I have to pay both bills so they are done on time and then issue the rental one to our tenants.

I don’t think the landlord will be interested in covering your usage bill as that is your responsibility.  If you have made an agreement to pay a certain amount and a not paying it consistently I can see why a property manager would be concerned.  

I have just seen your last update. I am glad it is fixed now. I would offer them another payment plan that works in with your budget. Landlords have to pay the property managers to take things to court so if you begin to pay routinely you may avoid.

#20 Thylacine

Posted 19 April 2019 - 07:14 AM

Sorry but I think you'll just have to pay it. The first time you switched it off and saw your water bill go down showed you that the retic was responsible for the water usage, that should have been the time that you googled the instructions/got it repaired/stopped using it altogether

#21 BornToLove

Posted 19 April 2019 - 08:10 AM

^^ I agree. Sorry, but if you found the issue, then you should have addressed it fully at the time. I rent so I get it, repairs aren’t always in your control, but I would have been on the REA to fix the issue before turning the water on to the retic

#22 SeaPrincess

Posted 19 April 2019 - 09:42 AM

View Post**Xena**, on 18 April 2019 - 11:26 PM, said:

Where I live all our water bills are around $300. Usage is $30 and apparently the rest is 'upkeep'. So crap.
Tenants only pay the usage in WA. OP make sure you ask to see the bills. When we were renting, the property manager sent me a copy each time with an invoice for the usage.

#23 Nobodyelse

Posted 19 April 2019 - 12:14 PM

^^Sorry, but I'm with the two pps. You've had 14 months of high water usage before bringing it up with teh REA. I'd probably try for a 50/50 split too, because why not, but I wouldn't be surprised if they declined.

I had a similar issue with a leaking cistern and brought it up after the first water bill we received. And our increase was only about $30 more than our usual usage.

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