What is the current law in relation to water charges as it affects landlords and tenants?
- The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that the ‘customer’ is the occupier of the premises in respect of which the water services are provided. It is presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that the owner of the premises is also the occupier of the premises.
- Where a dwelling is provided with water services by Irish Water, the owner of the dwelling is required to either –
(a) register with Irish Water as a customer and confirm whether or not the dwelling is his or her private residence, or
(b) notify Irish Water 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 an agreement for the occupation of the dwelling.
This is compulsory where there is a tenancy covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.
- This notification should take place not later than
(a) 30 October 2015, or
(b) where there is a change in the occupation of the dwelling, within 20 working days of such a change.
- The provisions outlined above do not apply where Irish Water had previously been notified of such details.
- Where the owner of a dwelling fails to comply with these requirements, they will be liable for any charges payable to Irish Water until such time as they comply.
- Any agreement to occupy the dwelling (e.g. tenancy agreement or lease) is deemed to include a provision that the occupier (e.g. the tenant) shall be responsible for the payment of any charges due to Irish Water for the period of the occupation.
- Under the Civil Debt (Procedures) Act 2015, Irish Water may apply to Court for an Order allowing either an attachment of earnings or a deduction from social welfare payments for the purpose of discharging outstanding water charges.
The Government is proposing future legislation to provide that tenants’ deposits are withheld pending evidence being provided that all water charges have been paid. Legislative proposals in this regard have not yet been brought forward and this proposal is not in force.