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Sydney Water hikes charges for WaterFix program for landlords!
Released 3 February 2011



Sydney Water has increased the charge for its WaterFix program designed to assist owners to install water efficiency measures in residential properties.  

The installation of prescribed water efficiency measures is required if landlords want to recover water usage from a tenant.

Previously, Sydney Water charged $22.00, regardless of whether the property was owner-occupied or tenanted.

A Q&A on the Sydney Water website now states: "We do not subsidise WaterFix for landlords who can pass on water usage charges to tenants. The cost is from $176.”

When introducing the Residential Tenancies Bill 2010 into Parliament on 2 June 2010, the Minister for Fair Trading, Virginia Judge, said that "section 39 of the Bill will require rented premises to contain water efficiency measures before tenants can be asked to pay for water usage."

She said at the time that the Bill would not impose a signficant cost on landlords. "While the efficiency standards will be set by regulation, it is envisaged that Sydney Water's WaterFix service, costing only $22, would be sufficient to make rental premises water efficient.”

Unfortunately, the increased charge comes as no surprise to REINSW.

"The Government is ... grossly underestimating the compliance costs for landlords installing these measures. To suggest full compliance can be achieved by landlords by simply spending around $22 is disingenuous,” stated REINSW's submission about the Residential Tenancies Bill 2010 in October last year.

Premises covered by tenancy agreements signed after 31 January 2011 must now be fitted with water efficiency devices if the landlord wishes to recover water usage costs from the tenant.

Landlords of properties which are currently tenanted under agreements signed before 31 January 2011 have 12 months to install the necessary water efficiency measures. However, the Terms and Conditions of the WaterFix program provide that the WaterFix program is open until 30 June 2011.

Further information about the Waterfix program can be found at: www.sydneywater.com.au/Water4Life/InYourHome/WaterFix/