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Landlords to Irish Water: Don't expect us to act as your collection agents

It follows days of uncertainty over who will eventually be held liable, if tenants refuse to register and pay for the contentious charges.

THE HEAD OF a landlords’ group says Irish Water shouldn’t be involving property owners in its collection process, if tenants are refusing to register or pay for water charges.

It follows days of uncertainty over who’s liable for the levy, in the event that a person renting a house or apartment doesn’t register with the utility.

“Irish Water have said to us very clearly that the landlord has no role in paying the charges,” Fintan McNamara, who heads up the Residential Landlords Association, told Morning Ireland today.

Asked whether members of his group would act as collection agents for the controversial semi-state, he said:

Absolutely not.

“We can’t force tenants to choose to register if they choose not to.”

The issue of who would, in the end, be held liable for the charges, turned into a major issue this week after the utility Tweeted this message…

Two statements were sent out by Irish Water in the following 12 hours, after a number of media outlets reported the uncertain state-of-affairs.

In its latest statement, sent on Wednesday night, the company said that if a tenant had not registered, Irish Water would contact the property owner to ensure that the renter receives the bill.

…if the tenant moves 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.

Further clarification

Speaking to RTÉ radio last evening, a spokesperson stressed that it was the water-user who would be pursued for payment, but that in cases of non-payment, the company would “talk to the landlord”.

“In the instance where an occupier doesn’t come forward, we will then go to the landlord and offer them an opportunity … and we’ve had to work through a process with the Data Protection Commissioner to ensure that we get that right,” Irish Water Head of Communications, Elizabeth Arnett, said.

Until we get to the end of October, until we get to the end of the application process, we won’t know who has come forward and who hasn’t.

The intention was to make sure the bill went to the water-user, Arnett said.

Asked again whether the landlord would be pursued, she said: “No, we would talk to the landlord”.

And on the subject of Wednesday’s tweet on the subject, she said:

The Tweet was incomplete.

Further clarification is expected from Irish Water once the registration process is complete, at the end of the month (or at some point after that, if, as expected, an extension to the deadline is given).

From that statement, again:

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.

Read: Taoiseach denies misleading the Dáil over Irish Water bonus claims

More: Why are gardaí wearing cameras at water meter protests?

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