A property subdivision leads to a dispute about water usage (April 2015)

High bills
Case Number 2014/49838
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mr M contacted EWOV in November 2014 because he was concerned that his higher than expected water bills were due to a subdivision at his property. He had been a resident in a rental property for over three years and had been receiving consistently high water bills. The property had recently been subdivided and he suspected that he was being charged for his neighbours’ water consumption, as well as his own.

Mr M was seeking an investigation into the higher than expected water use and assistance in identifying the source of any potential leaks. He had discussed the matter with his water corporation several times and had been assured he was only being charged for water at his property. Mr M indicated that in previous tests he had done himself on his water meter, where he had turned off all the taps at his house, he had seen the meter continue to record and not record. This had made him unsure about the accuracy of the meter.

Mr M told EWOV that he was in the process of buying the property and if the leak was on the customer side (i.e not an issue with the water corporation’s pipes or meter) that he would be pursuing the current landlord for repairs before the property sale was finalised.  An Assisted Referral was raised by EWOV, however the water corporation was aware of Mr M’s concerns and requested that the matter be escalated to an Investigation straight away in order to resolve the issue in a timely manner.

The Investigation

EWOV requested all historical bills and noticed that between 2011 and 2014, Mr M had been billed for consistently high water use at the property, causing him to owe over $5,000 which had accrued over the past three years. The water corporation had created several payment arrangements for Mr M which, for various reasons, had not been maintained.

The water corporation sent an independent plumber to Mr M’s property who confirmed that each house on the site had an individual meter for its own water use. The plumber produced a diagram of the plumbing plans to provide evidence of this. This information satisfied Mr M that he was not being charged for any of his neighbours’ water usage, but he was still concerned about the possibility of a leak. The water corporation reiterated that it was not able to investigate any issues past its own infrastructure (pipes and meters), but agreed to test the meter. The water corporation also agreed not to charge the customer for the meter test regardless of the outcome.  

The Outcome

The water corporation provided test results to EWOV confirming that the meter was functioning correctly and complied with Australian standards. The water corporation identified that Mr M’s average consumption was over 1,000 litres of water a day, and were certain that this was not due to a faulty meter or a leak within its own infrastructure.

EWOV discussed with Mr M the limitations of the water corporation’s ability to investigate private pipes. Mr M was satisfied with the information EWOV provided and agreed to a payment plan of $150.00 fortnightly to cover arrears and ongoing consumption. Mr M was also provided with a direct contact at the water corporation.

Related content

Hot topic

Hot Topic − Fair and reasonable (August 2018)

Getting connected and changing energy company, Energy disconnection and water restriction, Trouble paying a bill, Debt collection and credit default listings, Outages, brownouts and power surges, High bills, Billing mistakes, Delayed and catch-up bills, Meters, poles, wires and pipes
Hot topic

A bundle of changes (May 2017)

Trouble paying a bill, High bills
A new baby brings big changes - but have you considered how a newborn might affect your utility bills?