Water Charges

23rd October 2015

Section 47, Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015

New obligations for owners to notify occupier’s names from 1st October 2015

Section 47 of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act  is effective from 1st October 2015. There is now an obligation on the owner of a dwelling with occupants to notify Irish Water of the names of the persons they have an agreement with and the start date of the agreement. If Irish Water is notified within 20 working days of the agreement start date the owner is not liable for water charges during that period.

Owners of dwellings with occupiers should notify Irish Water within 20 working days of the agreement start date by calling LoCall 1890 448 448 or +353 1 707 2824 (8am-8pm Mon-Fri, and 9am-5.30pm Sat) or sending an email to landlord@water.ie and stating the names of all the persons with whom they have an agreement and the start date of the agreement.   Irish Water will then open an account in the names of the occupiers and send them a letter inviting them to register with them.

29th June 2015

The Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill issued recently contains matters pertaining to water charges. Amendments if they are accepted, allow 20 days for a landlord to register their new tenant with Irish Water, information required includes the date of the commencement of the agreement and the name of each person occupying the premises.

Prior to the sale of a property, a property owner has to discharge their liability to Irish Water.

Extract from Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 Report Amendments

43. The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 is amended by inserting the following section after
section 23:
“Registration with Irish Water
23A. (1) Where water services are provided to a dwelling by Irish Water, the
owner of the dwelling shall, subject to subsections (2) and (3)—
(a) register with Irish Water as a customer and confirm whether or not
the dwelling is his or her principal private residence, or
(b) notify Irish Water, in writing or in such other form and manner as
Irish Water may specify, that he or she is not the occupier of the
dwelling and provide—
(i) the date of commencement of any agreement for the occupation
of the dwelling, and
(ii) the name of each person with whom the owner has such an
agreement for the occupation of the dwelling,
not later than—
(I) 20 working days after the coming into operation of section 43**
of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015, and
(II) where there is a change in the occupation of the dwelling after
the coming into operation of section 43** of the Environment
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015, 20 working days after
such a change.
(2) Subsection (1)(I) shall not apply to the owner of a dwelling where,
before the coming into operation of section 43** of the Environment
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015, Irish Water has been notified of
the details of the occupation of the dwelling concerned.
(3) Where the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 applies to the dwelling
concerned subsection (1)(a) shall not apply to the owner of the
dwelling but that owner shall comply with subsection (1)(b).
(4) Notwithstanding section 21(5) and subsection (5) of this section,
where the owner of a dwelling fails to comply with subsection (1)(b),
the owner shall pay to Irish Water any charge under section 21 in
respect of the dwelling for the period from the date of commencement
of the agreement for the occupation of the dwelling until the date on
which the owner so complies.
(5) (a) Unless such an agreement expressly provides otherwise, an
agreement for the occupation of a dwelling entered into after the
coming into operation of section 43** of the Environment
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 is deemed to include a
provision that the occupier shall pay to Irish Water any charge
under section 21 in respect of the dwelling for the period from the
date on which the agreement commences until the date on which
the occupier vacates the dwelling.
(b) The exception provided for in paragraph (a) shall not apply to a
dwelling to which the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 applies.
(6) A person who registers with, or notifies, Irish Water under subsection
(1) and provides information which to his or her knowledge is false or
misleading in a material respect commits an offence and is liable on
summary conviction to a class A fine.
(7) In this section ‘dwelling’ means a premises occupied, or which may be
occupied, by a person as his or her place of private residence (whether
or not as his or her principal private residence).”
—An tAire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil.
[*The proposed new Part comprehends the inclusion of amendments 21 to 25.]
[**This is the appropriate reference if this amendment is accepted.]

Extract from Section 44

“(2) The owner of a dwelling (in this section referred to as the ‘vendor’)
who proposes to sell the dwelling shall—
(a) before the completion of the sale, pay to Irish Water any charge
under section 21 of the No. 2 Act of 2013 in respect of the dwelling
payable by the owner to Irish Water, including any such charge
payable by the owner by virtue of section 23A(4) of that Act, and
(b) provide to his or her solicitor—
(i) a certificate of discharge from Irish Water confirming that any
such charge has been paid, or
(ii) a statement from Irish Water that any charge under section 21 of
the No. 2 Act of 2013 payable in respect of the dwelling is not
the liability of the owner.”

26th May 2015

The occupier is responsible for the water charge. The owner of a property may be billed for the water charge unless Irish Water have been made aware of the name of the occupier. As the landlord of the property, you can contact Irish Water 1890 448 448 and provide the name of your tenant.  Irish Water will then write to your tenant to invite them to register. This will ensure that you are no longer liable for water services charges whilst the tenant continues to be the occupant of the property. If you have a number of properties Irish Water can email you a pro-forma document that you can fill in and email back, which may be faster than phoning in the information.
The personal data to be provided by landlords or their authorised agents is limited to the tenants’ names only and is to be used solely by Irish Water in the performance of its statutory functions under the Water Services Acts 2013, to identify who is the customer at a premises to which Irish Water is providing water and waste water services. The provision of such names is necessary both for Irish Water to perform its statutory functions, and for Irish Water and the landlords’ legitimate interests in ensuring the correct customer is identified. As such, its processing is in accordance with the Data Protection Acts.

The occupier can contact Irish Water to rgister, there is no cut off date for them to apply.

Tenant Leaving  – What tenant can do when leaving rental property

To close their account tenants should call Irish Water on 1890 448 448 (lines are open from 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday and 9am-5.30pm on Saturdays) they will ask your tenant to:
1. Provide their name, address and/or account number.
2. Agree a meter reading if the property is metered.  Irish Water can generate an estimated meter reading.
Provide the address of the property that they are moving into so Irish Water can transfer their account.
A forwarding postal address can be given so Irish Water can send on their final bill.

 

8th May 2015  Update 

A recent statement issued by the Taoiseach’s Department  outlined the following;-

The Department of the Environment will strengthen the regulatory regime around the payment of water charges through measures not involving court proceedings.

i. The liability for the water charge will transfer automatically to an owner of a property where the owner has not provided Irish water with the necessary details in respect of a tenant.
ii. There will be a deemed obligation, in all new tenancy agreements, for the occupier to pay water charges, other than short-term lets where the landlord may retain this liability. It would already be standard in the majority of leases that tenants have responsibility for utility payments including water.
iii. There will be a further requirement for a landlord to retain a tenant deposit until the tenant provides evidence that they have paid their water charges; this is a temporary role for landlords until such time as the PRTB take over deposit protection whereby tenants will have to demonstrate that the domestic water bill is settled to recoup deposit.
iv. Furthermore there will be an obligation to confirm that water charges are paid before the completion of the sale of a dwelling to include a requirement to discharge arrears of water charges; A yearly domestic water bill represents a minor proportion of the proceeds of a house-sale

Minister Kelly said: “Everyone has to be treated the same here. We can’t have a situation where some people are paying their water charges while others simply refuse to pay. These measures are aimed at ensuring fairness in the application of water charges and will complement the Civil Debt procedures bill which will significantly reform the way all civil debt is treated in Ireland and move it way from what is a currently excessively bureaucratic procedure. ”

The Chairman of the IPOA, Stephen Faughnan commented “ Not content to destroy the sector with the punitive tax treatment including taxing a loss making situation, the Government is now trying to force landlords to collect debts owed to third parties.  The State continues deliberately undermining the landlord tenant relationship.  It is trying to force landlords to do its dirty work. The Irish State seems to consider tenants to be irresponsible and unreliable otherwise it would leave Irish Water to collect its own charges like in the UK and other jurisdictions.  These charges can be collected from tenants the same way they are proposed to be collected from home owners.”

25th February 2015  Update

The occupier is responsible for the water charge.  The default position for the water charge is currently that the owner of a property maybe billed for the water charge unless Irish Water have been made aware of the name of the occupier.  The occupier can contact Irish Water to provide this information, there is no cut off date for them to apply.

Irish Water have commenced a campaign reminding tenants/occupiers to sign up and also asking property owners to check that information has been given to Irish Water by the occupier.  If Irish Water do not have the name of the occupiers the owner will be billed. Property owners can  contact Irish Water and provide the name of the occupier and Irish Water will then correspond with the occupier directly.    Irish Water are now in the position to take the information from the property owner.

Details on the grant are not available at this time but it is expected to be paid in a single payment and the occupier will have to apply for it separately.  It is expected to be conditional on the customer having registered with Irish Water.

November 2014

In November the Minister announced the new water charge regime, it will be €160 for a single person or €260 for a family or people sharing who have both mains water and mains sewerage.  The cost for a holiday home/vacant property will be €125.  If a rental property with both services  is vacant the landlord will be liable €125 p.a. pro-rated.

There may be a grant of €100 available if the account is registered with Irish Water. However in the frequently asked questions the following piece appears:-

“In the case of tenants in private rented accommodation, legislation will be introduced to insert into all tenancy agreements/leases a deemed obligation on the tenant to discharge their liability for water charges. On the changeover of a tenancy, the registration of a new tenant with Irish Water would be conditional on all water charge arrears being discharged and, in the event of the former tenant not discharging those arrears, the landlord would be entitled to withhold the amount concerned from the tenant’s deposit and would be required to remit the amount involved to Irish Water.”

It appears that the Minister is trying to make landlords responsible if the tenant does not pay. This is unacceptable, the deposit is often used for the last months rent, or there may be damage to the property.

Ensure that you contact your political representatives and that they understand that this is not viable. The water charge legislation is expected to be drafted after Christmas.  Don’t leave it to someone else – fight for fairness.

———————————————————————–

There is still much uncertainty around water metering and billing. This is a service being provide to the occupier, and the “user pays” principle applies. The intention of Irish Water is that the occupier will be liable for the payment of the charge.

The paragraph below is clarification in respect of your obligation under the Data Protection Act in respect of your dealings with Irish Water on your rental property.

Irish Water has the statutory right to charge for water services.  If a property is occupied by a tenant and that tenant has failed to register with Irish Water then the landlord can give the tenants name only to Irish Water on request.  It is within the legitimate interest of Irish Water to know the identity of the person responsible for paying the water charges.

Irish Water issued the following Statement in October

- “Clarification on responsibility of water charges payment
• If you live in a house you own, you are responsible for
payment of the water charges and should register with Irish Water in
order to claim your allowances.
• If you rent a property, you are responsible for the payment of
the water charges for that property and should register with Irish Water
in order to claim your allowances.
• If you own a property that is unoccupied you are responsible
for payment of the water charges and should register with Irish Water to
ensure you are charged the ‘unoccupied’ rate.
• If you have a tenant in a property, the tenant is responsible
for the payment of the water charge and should register with Irish Water
in order to claim their relevant allowances.
• If the tenant has not registered with Irish Water, Irish Water
will contact the property owner to ensure that the responsible party (ie
the tenant) receives the bill. Irish Water will announce details of this
shortly.
• Should the tenant move out of the property without closing the
account, the tenant remains responsible for the payment and Irish Water
will follow this up in the standard ways.”

You may be interested in the definitions below from the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013:-

customer” means, in relation to the provision of water services, the occupier of the premises in respect of which the water services are provided;

occupier” means, in relation to a premises, the person for the time being entitled to the occupation of the premises;

Power to charge for water services
21. (1) Subject to subsection (6), Irish Water shall charge each customer for the provision by it of water services.
(2) The amount of a charge under subsection (1) shall be calculated by Irish Water in accordance with the approved water charges plan or an approved agreement, as may be appropriate.
(3) A charge under this section shall be payable on demand by the customer concerned in such manner and in respect of such period or periods as Irish Water shall determine in accordance with the approved water charges plan or an approved agreement, as may be appropriate.
(4) Where a customer fails to pay a charge under this section, it shall be recoverable by Irish Water as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(5) It shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that the owner of a premises is also the occupier of that premises.

(6) This section shall not apply to water services provided to a fire authority within the meaning of the Fire Services Act 1981.
(7) Subject to subsection (8), Irish Water may reduce or discontinue the supply of water to a premises where a charge under this section in respect of the premises remains wholly or partly unpaid for such period of time as may be specified in the approved water charges plan or an approved agreement, as may be appropriate.
(8) Irish Water shall not, by reason of a charge in respect of a dwelling being wholly or partly unpaid, discontinue the supply of water to that dwelling either temporarily or permanently

Charging for Water Services – Legal Basis The Act allows Irish Water to charge for Water
Services:
- S21 (1) “lrish Water shall charge each customer for the provision by it of water services”
- 321(3) ‘A charge under this section shall be payable on demand by the customer
- S21(4) “Where a customer fails to pay a charge under this section, it shall be recoverable by Irish Water as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction”

The Expected Process

Validation campaign or welcome packs to Irish Water were sent out  September/October 2014. This will be an information gathering process of who owns, rents or if the property is not occupied.  If packs were not received registration can be carried out by ringing Irish Water on 1890 448 448.

Below are a few bullet points that you may find useful.

• Validation campaign started September 1, 2014.
• Occupiers should have received forms to register as customers.
• Owners may have received letters from Irish Water showing the premises identified against their names.
• The occupier of the property is the customer of Irish Water and is classed as the user.
• Billing period starts January 1st 2015.
• There will be a “minimum charge” but no “standing charge”.
• Apt blocks will generally not be metered in phase 1.
• Houses will generally have a single meter.
• Where tenants or landlords have certified who the customer is, there should be no problem for landlords.
• Meters are configured for month-end; electronic readings taken remotely by Irish Water.
• Charges will be billed quarterly.

PRE 63 PROPERTIES

Our current understanding on water charges in pre-63 style properties is outlined below, this is still not clear and information may change going forward:-

• There will be no sub-metering for any apartments.
• There will be no meter to the property.
• Occupier will be responsible to pay charges.
• Water won’t be disconnected for non-payment by any tenant.
• If there is a commercial unit within the makeup of the property this won’t be disconnected once there is no meter in place and it’s connected someway to the domestic service.
• During void periods owners are liable for payment .
• Who would be responsible to pay charges when tenant absconds? It appears that where a contract is in place the tenant is responsible for all cost and charges until the property is reoccupied.

Contact Irish Water/Uisce Éireann on 1890 448 448

Irish Water is Ireland’s national water utility that is responsible for providing water services throughout Ireland. Click on website to view their site:- www.water.ie