Renter’s wa­ter dilemma

Coun­cil CEO: Re­stric­tions en­force­able re­gard­less of real es­tate agent de­mands Real Es­tate In­sti­tute CEO: Ten­ants not ex­pected to go be­yond le­gal bound­aries but must do what they can to up­hold agreed re­spon­si­bil­i­ties

Dubbo Photo News - - Front Page - By LY­DIA PEDRANA Dubbo Photo News.

HOUSE renter Belle Wood­er­son feels stuck be­tween a rock and a hard place when it comes to ful­fill­ing her lease agree­ment but also abid­ing by the Level 4 wa­ter re­stric­tions that have been im­posed in Dubbo.

Ms Wood­er­son claims she’s been told that the lawn is to be kept green at her Fitzroy Street prop­erty, other­wise she will be in breach of her lease con­tract.

Un­der cur­rent coun­cil wa­ter re­stric­tions, ev­ery­one in the lo­cal gov­ern­ment area can only wa­ter from one wa­ter out­let at a time, on Wed­nes­day and Sun­day for a to­tal of 30 min­utes, ei­ther be­fore 9am or af­ter 6pm.

Ms Wood­er­son be­lieves it’s un­rea­son­able for land­lords to ex­pect large lawns to be kept green while un­der such lim­i­ta­tions.

“You can’t have a sprin­kler go­ing out the front and a sprin­kler go­ing out the back, and be­cause they are keep­ing an eye on the con­sump­tion of wa­ter, I have to choose, do I do the back lawn or my front lawn? I may as well not do any and save the wa­ter,” Ms Wood­er­son told

“It’s caus­ing me huge stress... I would like real es­tate agents to be more le­nient to their ten­ants.”

Un­der­stand­ing that much of the state is in ex­treme drought, Ms Wood­er­son is do­ing ev­ery­thing she can to save and re­use wa­ter.

“It’s more about look­ing to­wards the fu­ture, we can’t just think that there is go­ing to be rain com­ing, we have to put ac­tion in place now,” she said.

“We are re­cy­cling grey wa­ter from the laun­dry, we are us­ing a dish in the kitchen sink for the wash­ing up, we have a bucket in the shower and reusing wa­ter from the bath­room sink.

“We are lim­it­ing our show­ers to un­der two min­utes and I even went out into the gut­ter when it rained on Sun­day and buck­eted wa­ter onto the grass.”

Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil CEO Michael Mcma­hon ac­knowl­edged Ms Wood­er­son’s con­cerns and said a let­ter to all real es­tate busi­nesses within the lo­cal gov­ern­ment area will be sent re­mind­ing them that ten­ants are not ex­empt from wa­ter re­stric­tions.

“Un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act 1993 th­ese re­stric­tions are en­force­able for res­i­dents and busi­nesses us­ing potable town wa­ter re­gard­less of the real es­tate agent’s de­mands,” Mr Mcma­hon said in a state­ment.

Real Es­tate In­sti­tute of NSW (REINSW) CEO Tim Mckib­bin

said that while he has not read Ms Wood­er­son’s ten­ancy agree­ment, the cir­cum­stance has traits of a frus­trated con­tract – some­thing not un­com­mon in real es­tate.

“A frus­trated con­tract is where a party has an obli­ga­tion to do some­thing or to pro­vide some­thing and it is just impossible to do it; cir­cum­stances have changed, and it is impossible to ful­fil the obli­ga­tions of the con­tract,” he said.

“Now, that’s not a breach of the con­tract, that just means that the con­tract to the ex­tent of that par­tic­u­lar obli­ga­tion is frus­trated.

“I haven’t read the par­tic­u­lar doc­u­ments, so I don’t know, but the frus­tra­tion that has en­tered this con­tract is the re­stric­tion on the ten­ants’ abil­ity to main­tain the gar­dens.”

Mr Mckib­bin said ten­ants are not ex­pected to go be­yond le­gal bound­aries to ful­fil obli­ga­tions, but at the same time, ten­ants must do what they can to up­hold agreed re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“Con­versely, be­cause there have been wa­ter re­stric­tions im­posed, that is not a li­cense for the ten­ant to say, ‘oh well, that’s good, I don’t have to wa­ter any­thing, it’s all over,’ be­cause that wouldn’t be mak­ing a gen­uine at­tempt to ful­fil your obli­ga­tion,” he said.

Ms Wood­er­son said she will be keep­ing a wa­ter diary to prove she has been wa­ter­ing, as well as tak­ing weekly pho­tos of the lawn “to prove that it is not mak­ing a damn dif­fer­ence”.

THEN (March this year) and NOW pho­tos of the lawn at the home Belle Wood­er­son rents. She says she’s stressed about her obli­ga­tions to keep the gar­den green but still fol­low wa­ter re­stric­tions. PHO­TOS: SUP­PLIED

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