‘That’s A Matter For The Landlord’

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Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Paidí Coffey

Further to the amendments story  yesterday in relation to the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014, the junior environment minister Paidí Coffey spoke to Gavin Jennings on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning.

Mr Jennings repeatedly asked the junior minister if a tenant, who didn’t pay their Irish Water bill, would be evicted…Coffey said that will be up to the landlord.

He also asked him about the Eurostat test… Coffey said it hasn’t been carried out yet.

And he asked him if he knew how many people have paid their Irish Water bills yet…Coffey said he doesn’t know the figure.

This is what was said.

Gavin Jennings: “If you don’t pay your water bill, the penalties – and more – are among six amendments to a bill on air pollution and waste collection to be put to the Dáil next week. Homeowners won’t be able to sell their home unless water bills are paid. Tenants will have an obligation to pay, included in their tenancy agreements and landlords will be required to give Irish Water details of their tenants and there’ll be another database from getting the water grant next year. Paidí Coffey is minister of state at the department of the environment. Paidí Coffey, good morning.”

Paidí Coffey: “Good morning to you, Gavin.”

Jennings: “Richard Boyd Barrett was here earlier. He says you’re ramming this measure through the Dáil. Fianna Fáil says you’re trying to get these changes in under the radar. Are you?”

Coffey: “Couldn’t be further from the truth, Gavin. There are no surprises here, despite what the opposition are saying. The substance of these amendments were flagged by Minister [for the Environment Alan] Kelly as far back as November and again indeed in May. And indeed I accompanied Minister Kelly in oral questions on a number of occasions in the Dáil, on the floor of the Dáil when people, like the opposition, were questioning him on the obligations of landlords in relation to water charges. And he stated, quite clearly, that he would deal with this in legislation by the end of the current term. So there’s no surprises here, what we’re bringing is clarity and certainty for landlords and tenants and I think, to be fair to be people who are compliant, we need to have a system where there is some sanction or enforcement, to ensure that those that are not compliant and are refusing to pay, that they do pay and that’s what this Miscellaneous Bill is about. It’s often used  in legislation to tidy up pieces of legislation. There’s over 15 pages of waste-related amendments in this and the Opposition are not mentioning that at all.”

Jennings: “If an tenant doesn’t pay their bill will they be evicted?”

Coffey: “No again, this is scaremongering, I believe, on behalf of the Opposition. Irish Water are going to every length to tell people that they will work with people that are under pressure financially. They will, like other utilities in place, payment plans to assist them and something that I would remind people about is the importance of registering with Irish Water by next Tuesday, the 30th of June. Because, if they’re not registered by then, they won’t qualify for the €100 grant.”

Jennings: “We’ll talk about the grant in a minute but if tenancy agreements are going to include an obligation to pay a water bill, does that give the landlord the power to evict a tenant if they don’t pay their water bill?”

Coffey: “Often is the case anyway, Gavin, where tenancy contracts are drawn up that, you know, landlords are insured that tenants are compliant with utilities..”

Jennings: “But the difference is: in other utilities, you can be cut off if you don’t pay. Water is different. Can I ask you again: if a tenant doesn’t pay their water bill, will they be evicted?”

Coffey: “Gavin, the Government has gone to great lengths to, you know, reassure people and we don’t want to see water cut off so we’ve legislated to ensure that doesn’t happen. That’s what the Opposition were stating initially, that we’d cut people’s water off. We don’t also want to see people ending up in court with fines and all the rest of it. So we are after drafting new legislation which will be introduced as well…”

Jennings: “So if a tenant doesn’t pay their water bill, will they be evicted?”

Coffey: “That’s a matter for the landlord and the tenant, as is the case in any contract.”

Jennings: “It’s a matter for the landlord, OK.”

Coffey: “So we’re bringing certainty for landlords here, we’re ensuring that they do ensure that tenants are registered with Irish Water…”

Jennings: “And if they’re in, if a tenant doesn’t pay the bill, will the landlord have to instead?”

Coffey: “There will be a case where any outstanding bills are not discharged, well then the owner of that property would have to discharge it before it would be sold on or in any conveyancing transaction and I think that’s the case already with property tax. And, you know, I just want to say Gavin, the Opposition, and especially Richard Boyd Barrett and other TDs have advised the public, in the past, not to be compliant in relation to property tax and I believe it was bad advice then and this is bad advice now because, you know, we want to see people, you know, compliant with the law and we don’t want to see people ending up in trouble and that’s where we’re making measures that we feel are fair and bring a certainty to the whole area.”

Jennings: “People are facing paying their second water bill soon, how are they going to get the grant to reduce their bill?”

Coffey: “Well, first of all, the most important point is by next Tuesday, the 30th of June, they must register with Irish Water to ensure that they are eligible for the grant. The Department of Social Protection are going to administer the grant on behalf of the State and they will over the coming months, be writing to people that have registered to ensure that they will qualify and indeed be paid this €100 grant…”

Jennings: “And when will they get the money?”

Coffey: “They’ll get it by the end of this year. You know there is a substantial amount of work in the administration and establishment of the administration of the grant so that’s underway in the Department of Social Protection and, you know, this legislation also allows for information to be shared by Irish Water and landlords so that the Department of Social Protection can pay this grant out to people. So Government are working to assist people with this and lessen the burden…”

Jennings: “..by the end of the year, that’s as much as you know at this stage, yes?”

Coffey: “Yes, indeed.”

Jennings: “Ok, if you don’t register by next Tuesday will you be given another opportunity to register in order to get the grant?”

Coffey: “No there won’t be further opportunities. This is the opportunity and I think, you know, in fairness, you know, I’m speaking about it hear this morning, Irish Water have advertised to people and I would encourage people to register and take advantage of the grant. It’s there to assist people to bring in measures, conservation measures in their own homes and some quite simple interventions will help people, lessen their bill and I think the vast majority of people will be compliant. Those, as you say, who are under struggling, under financial pressure, Irish Water have assured us that they will work with those people in payment plans to assist them…”

Jennings: “Have the EU approved this model yet?”

Coffey: “The EU have, as you know Gavin, it has to go for an independent Eurostat test and that’s imminent I would suggest. They’re independent, they’re not directly related to the Department of the Environment or…”

Jennings: “But they haven’t done so yet no?”

Coffey: “They haven’t done so yet but I would expect that to happen over the coming period.”

Jennings: “When?”

Coffey: “I’d say in the next few weeks or possibly months at the latest. It’s an independent organisation that will analyse the whole structure and model of Irish Water and we’re quite confident that we will pass that test when it does happen.”

Jennings: “Last question for you before we let you go: do you know how many people have paid so far?”

Coffey: “Well, we do know how many people have registered…”

Talk over each other.

Jennings: “That’s not what I asked you: do you know how many people have paid so far.”

Coffey: “Yeah and that’s a matter for Irish Water to respond to and my understanding on that is Gavin that when Irish Water have their figures, when they present them to their board, I understand that the board meeting is due to happen next week and it is very likely, and I would encourage them to publish the payment figures then.”

Jennings: “If you’re not going to tell me, do you know how many people have paid..”

Coffey: “I personally don’t know now, at this minute because the report hasn’t been made to the board of Irish Water which is the responsible body that would get the report..”

Jennings: “Would you like to know?”

Coffey: “That information will be shared out, I expect, in the next couple of weeks as well.”

Jennings: “Would you like to know?”

Coffey: “But sure I will know in the next couple of weeks and we can have a full debate about it at that stage.”

Listen back in full here 

Previously: About That Irish Water ‘Database’

‘We Don’t Know What We’re Supposed To Be Amending’

 

37 thoughts on “‘That’s A Matter For The Landlord’

    1. Mr. T.

      Some are. Most aren’t.

      I rented for several years. Most landlords were fine, only one or two scum.

      I am now a landlord but I am scum.

    2. dereviled

      No Alan. They are not.
      Every one of my landlords and landladies have been respectful and diligent.

  1. Odis

    “Couldn’t be further from the truth, Gavin.” – We’re merely giving a “private company” the same rights as the Revenue Commissioners – in order to tidy things up.
    Paidi Coffey eh? Never heard of him till now. What a pox this man is.

    1. Steve

      Worth noting the following.

      Private limited company is a company that has shareholders with limited liability and where it’s shares can floated on stock exchanges for purchase by the general public.

      Irish Water is a company whose share ownership, under the water services act 2013, is split between its Board, the Minister for environment and the minister for finance. The act expressly prohibits the board from alienating it’s share without the consent of both of these ministers.

        1. Steve

          Ah now Clampers ye little rascal you know as well as I do that it means the transfer of ownership to another party, but sure the law doesn’t allow the transfer anyway.

          1. Joxer

            the missing word is ‘currently’ as in the law currently dowsnt allow the transfer of shares. sure a few lines as an amendment to the water services act would sort that out and we can sell the whole thing off to Goldman Sachs or Nestle.

          2. Steve

            Yeah true, might be a good thing though.

            Water services in England and Wales are some of the best in the world.

  2. Markus

    obligation on a tenant to pay water charges has been in most standard residential leases for a number of years so the landlord already had the right in most cases

  3. Kolmo

    Can a contract be enforced by a third party (IW) in court if a landlord gave your details to the third party without your consent or knowledge?
    If thats the case I could set up contracts for anyone for anything…..amiright?

  4. Steve

    Any properly written tenancy agreement should have an eviction clause for when the tenant consistently doesn’t engage with ESBN or BGN, misses bills and leaves the landlord with the reconnection cost. I know I would have that in there if I was a landlord.

    What the f@&k would a TD from Waterford know about the work schedule of Eurostat??

    It is not statistically robust to base a view of payment rates on one billing cycle. Even bodger would tell you that. If IW were still sending out bills up to last week that means the first billing cycle isn’t complete. Best for coppinger et al to wait 2-3 biking cycles to get a proper view on payment rates.

  5. BillyTwelveTrees

    A colleague of mine was told by his landlord if he didn’t register with Irish Water he would raise his rent until he couldn’t afford it… Charming…

  6. tony

    Is it just me or are the goys on Morning Ireland the angriest in the world? (except for here obvs)

  7. nellyb

    The courts will be clogged up till 2020 with “water” cases, there will be another public outcry and whatever teacher is “leading” the country again will “do” something about it.
    Do Paddy Power do long term bets (futures style)?

  8. Lorcan Nagle

    I got a letter from Irish water about my tenant not registering. It went to the same place my registration pack did.

  9. rotide

    I know this has probably been dealt with in the last 50,067 articles about IW but why don’t they just cut water supply off from people that persistently refuse to pay?

      1. rotide

        That’s interesting, I assumed that if you didn’t pay rates your water would be cut off.

      1. rotide

        Not untill 2010 it wasn’t and even now the UN accept that water can be charged for within reasonable limits (the sum of less than 3% of average houshold income seemed to be bandied about)

        Surely if the UN accepts a service can be charged for then it can be withheld or what’s the point?

    1. Lorcan Nagle

      As I understand it, no punitive measures will be taken for 15 months after your first bill, so almost certainly after the General Election. There’s every possibility Irish Water will be gonr or restructured massively before you ever need to pay them.

  10. Brian S

    It’s fupping depressing to live in this country. After losing my job I went back to college and changed career, did an internship, got a job, got a promotion in the space of a year and moved into an apartment. We pay car tax on 2 cars, vat, rent, and all our bills on time.

    We aren’t being offered the choice of a metered service which would be much lower than the €64 we were billed for as we are out of the house 12 hours a day. I have no intention of paying for the mismanagement of the water system to the last 40 years that the local councils oversaw especially not to a bloated semi state body whose first order of business was to get their mates on the board, sort their bonuses out and give another mate a lucrative contract.

    And now they are trying to make me pay by forcing my landlord to write it into a lease agreement and allowing him to take my security deposit. For a utility bill?!

    The audacity is astounding

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