Repayment of Backdated Water Bills for 29 Months Lease Period

Hi,

Will try to keep myself crisp and short:

I'm renting an apartment for now 29 months with my partner and never received or paid a water bill. After a quick check initially with the Agency when moving in on what to connect I ended up with only electricity and internet bills addressed to my unit. As the water was included in my previous apartment that I rented, I presumed it is the same case for the current apartment, which I believe is also quite common. No one since then did any further digging on this or raised questions. Meanwhile also the overseeing Agency changed to another one.

Apparently today I received a notification from one of the Property Managers that I'm asked to pay $600 in water costs back to the landlord while "without realising it, the owner has been doing so". It is for the whole 29 months lease period with quarterly raised invoices attached.
We have a new tenant in the block since recently and I believe he must have been too investigative about the water bills which raised suspicion.

I'm happy to pay any future raised water bills since it's being billed now under my name.
However I don't feel to be fully responsible to repay the $600 in water bills that are being addressed now by the Agency.

Would appreciate any advice on how to deal with this/them.

Update 14.12.
Thanks for your advice on this. Rang Victoria Tenant Advice and apparently I have to pay the whole sum back to the landlord. I will look for some reasonable instalments

Comments

  • +4 votes

    I would get on to citizens advice and the housing association in your state asap. We just switched agencies (owners choice we are renting) a couple of weeks ago and the new guy is pulling more stunts than evil kenevil.

    Back dating bills for 29 months sounds unreasonable to me as well. Sounds like a scam.

    • +1 vote

      Not a scam if OP signed a lease saying that water is not included. Some responsibility falls on the renter if they know water is not included and that they aren't receiving any water bills.

      Whilst I think that the bills should be paid morally (in a payment plan), I'm not sure whether it could be enforced that far back legally.

  • +4 votes

    I'm sure it's in your tenancy agreement that you will pay for water "usage". $21 per month doesn't seem out of the ordinary for water usage. How far back can they ask for? 3 months? 6 months or in your case 29 months.

    If you can't afford to pay $600 all at once then come to an agreement to pay it in instalments. You can usually pay it over the same period that it accrued… i.e 29 months.

  • +3 votes

    http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tenants_and_home_owner...

    Time to pay
    You only have to pay if the landlord or agent gives you a copy of the part of the water bill setting out the water usage charges payable, or some other evidence showing how your usage was calculated, within 3 months of getting the bill. You must be given 21 days to pay the amount owing. So long as they request your payment within the 3 months, if you don’t pay they can still take action to recover the money later on (eg. making a claim against your bond or getting an order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal).

  • +3 votes

    Check the lease, it should say. I know mine says that water is not included.

    I am in a similar situation as you. I am renting a new investment property in an estate (suppose you could call it an investment estate, where the homes are rented out), haven't received a water bill at all in the past 13 months. Have mentioned it to the body corporate manager a couple of times, they have said they will pass anything on from the owner. They agreed that it would be unreasonable for the owner to expect 12+ months of water bills to be paid back all at once, and that they could arrange a payment plan if the situation arose.

    If the lease says water is not included, I think you should pay it back. If the owner has left it months and months to pass on the bills, I don't think it is unreasonable to request a payment plan.

    •  

      My Lease Agreement states the following "The Tenant shall pay all charges in respect of the re-connection and consumption of water, electricity, gas, oil and telephone where the rented premises is separately metered for the services"

      • +4 votes

        Then this answers your question?

        $600 isn't that much to fork out considering its 29 months worth of water.

        Just pay it back. I'd say this is your error for not following up with your local water company.

        I can see how it'd be very easy for an owner to not realise that they were paying the water bills (given that they are so low) as your landlord receives a bill every quarter for around $150-$200 to cover the cost of you being connected to the water.

        I'd be thankful for the fact that they did pay it and is asking for the money back, and that its not your local water corp demanding the money and charging you late fees for not paying for water over the last 2 and a half years…

  • +1 vote

    check your rental contract. If it doesnt say anything about water , then you should pay. Of course, the owner should probably give you some payment plan.

    to be honest, $600 for 29 months seems really low.

  •  

    What state do you live in?

      • +3 votes

        Check with your state's tenancy advocates. I'm pretty sure there has to be some sort of cut off, they can't backdate it like that as my agents chase me down for the rates because they can't bill the tenants once it hit a certain timeframe.

  • +1 vote

    Another thought, is the $600 the full water bill, or just the usage? If it's for the rates bit, as well, you shouldn't have to pay for that.

  • +1 vote

    You used it, just pay it and move on. If you can't afford to pay it all at once, ask for terms, in writing.

  • +2 votes

    and consumption of water, electricity, gas, oil

    Oil?

    • +1 vote

      you don't use seal oil to run the lamps in your house?

    •  

      Just a generic tenancy agreement. There's still a few houses out there using oil fired central heating as they do not have mains gas or do not use bottled gas.

      Oil is a short word for heating oil.

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