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We Respectfully Disagree

9 Jan 18

It is with great interest that REISA read the statements attributed to Ross Womersley on the Indaily website today in the article headed Parties must relieve pressure on SA’s struggling renters.

Mr Womersley has very strongly advocated for landlords to be responsible for the water charges of any property that they currently rent out.

REISA CEO, Greg Troughton said ‘While I have huge respect for the work that Mr Womersley does on behalf of the South Australian Council of Social Service, I must respectfully disagree with his position on this matter”

“Firstly, it has always been the case that landlords and tenants can agree on who pays the water usage and supply charges.  This was unchanged in the 2014 amendments.  The only measure that did change was that in the absence of an agreement, landlords would be responsible for non-separately metered properties and tenants would be responsible for separately metered properties.  Previously, the landlords were held responsible for all properties (with the tenants bearing responsibility for any excess)”

“However this is only in the absence of any agreement – the overwhelming majority of leases would have an agreement specified in them as to who is responsible and the overwhelming majority would have the tenant responsible.  The legislation did nothing to change that”

“Secondly, it should not be forgotten that the landlord is always responsible for the sewerage costs of their property.  No tenant ever has to pay that.  The water bill is never paid for completely by the tenant”

"Thirdly, the costs of supply and usage of water are the same as other costs for which the tenant invariably bears responsibility.  Electricity, gas, internet – all of these are paid for by the tenant.  Why is water any different?”

“While I completely understand Mr Womersley’s position and I would always be happy to hear about policies affecting property management issues in this State, it can never be the responsibility of the landlord to assume the role of giving assistance to the struggling renters in this State.  That must always be the responsibility of the State Government, not the landlord of the property” Mr Troughton said.