Prepaid water meters – an excellent option for sectional title schemes

Prepaid water meters – an excellent option for sectional title schemes

Private Property South Africa
Sarah-Jane Meyer

Prepaid electricity meters have become standard in new homes. However, when the body corporate of a sectional title scheme decides to install prepaid water meters or individual water meters for each unit in the scheme, some owners may wonder if this is necessary, and some may even oppose the idea.

Municipal accounts are usually the biggest monthly expense in a sectional title scheme and can easily get out of hand if some unit owners don’t regularly pay their share.

If a sectional title complex has one water bill for the entire complex, it’s very difficult to control water usage and equitably divide the bill between all the unit owners. Some households use more than others, so it wouldn’t be fair to expect everyone to pay the same amount.

Installing individual prepaid meters for each unit solves all these problems. Each household is responsible for paying for the water used in the unit, and owners can clearly see how much water is being used in their unit.

Usage

Unit owners – and their tenants - often use water daily without considering how much they are using.

Neglect in water usage includes dripping taps that aren’t repaired, washing machines and dishwashers that are run when only half-full or not on an economic cycle and irrigation sprinkler systems run for longer than necessary to adequately water the garden.

With water accounts billed monthly - usually in retrospect - people are less likely to check their actual consumption. However, when prepaid systems or individual water meters are installed, unit owners and tenants alike are more likely to be cautious about their usage.

Body corporate finances

If the sectional title scheme unexpectedly gets an excessive water bill, there may not be enough in the reserves to pay the account. If the scheme has one water account for all the units, there is really no way of checking how and when the excessive usage occurred. If the account goes unpaid, the municipality could cut services to the scheme.

This, in turn, affects the scheme’s financial health because the body corporate might have to raise a special levy to pay its bills. Many owners will justifiably resent paying more than they have budgeted for in levies and utilities every month.

Prepaid

The most efficient way to ensure stability in sectional title schemes is for any consumable costs that can vary - like electricity and water - to be controlled by the unit owners and tenants and preferably paid upfront.

This will help avoid nasty surprises in the form of large municipal bills for the body corporate to deal with. It will also ease the administrative burden on the trustees, as they will no longer need to manage the invoicing and collection of water and electricity costs.

Sectional title owners, as well as the trustees, will know exactly where they stand. Water usage is bound to be reduced, which will be good for the environment. And the financial position of the scheme will be more stable.

Writer : Sarah-Jane Meyer

Share:

Found this content useful?

Get the best of Private Property's latest news and advice delivered straight to your inbox each week

Related Articles

Cost benefits of rainwater harvesting
Rainwater harvesting will enable you to take control of your water supply and save a lot of money – as well as be independent of urban infrastructure.
Saving water during lockdown
As lockdown continues, there are serious concerns over the ability to pay monthly utility bills. Let's help you to save water with a few tips
Drinking water safety in South Africa
Water safety is fundamentally essential in household and business premises. So what should you do if your tap water doesn’t look or taste right?