February 12, 2014

Solar Panels and the Solar Bonus Scheme Rebate - Qld property management





Following is the RTA view on Solar Panels and the Solar Bonus Scheme Rebate.


Real Estate Excellence members; please refer to the February member update issued on the 3rd February for best practice advice. Available online and upon request www.realestateexcellence.com.au

 

"Solar Bonus scheme rebate

 

The Solar bonus scheme is a government initiative to reward home owners for using renewable energy sources.

 

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 does not make specific reference to the solar bonus scheme, however it does provide guidelines for service charging.  The Act allows a lessor of a rental premises to charge a tenant for the quantity of the service supplied to or used at the premises.

 

Although the RTRA Act does not specifically state who is eligible for the rebate, the Electricity Act 1994 does.  According to Department of Energy and Water Supply (DEWS) the person who has the electricity account in their name is entitled to the bonus.  This means, if the electricity account is in the tenant’s name, the tenant is able to claim the bonus or if the electricity account is in the lessor’s name, the lessor is able to claim the bonus.

 

In some cases, the lessor may set up the electricity account with the supply authority in their own name and then seek to recover the charges to their account from the tenant.  If the premises are individually metered, the tenant cannot be asked to pay more than the amount charged to the lessor by the supply authority for the quantity of service used. (RTRA s165 (3) (b) (ii) )

 

The “amount charged” is ambiguous.  The pre-rebate amount is the maximum that can be charged by the lessor.

 

The RTA strongly recommends the parties negotiate at the start of the tenancy about how the electricity is going to be charged.   There are several options:-

 

  1. The tenant has the electricity account in their name and they receive the rebate and pay the account directly to the supply authority.
  2. The lessor has the electricity account in their name and receive the rebate and  the tenant is asked to reimburse the lessor the full electricity account amount
  3. The lessor has the electricity account in their name and may seek to pass on the rebated amount (or part of the rebate) and the tenant is asked to reimburse the lessor the electricity account amount minus the rebate amount (e.g. $400 account, minus $150 rebate = $250 amount payable by the tenant)
  4. The lessor has the electricity account in their name and receives the rebate and the cost of the service is included on the tenancy agreement being absorbed in the rent.
     
    Because it is unclear, lessor/agents should be aware that tenants may challenge being charged the pre-rebate amount.
     
    Tenants need to be aware of the solar energy situation at the start of the tenancy regarding any charges.  Details about the electricity charging should be outlined in the tenancy agreement.
     
    If parties cannot agree about the payment of a service by talking with each other, they may apply for dispute resolution service through the RTA.  If the matter is not resolved, an application for a hearing may be made to the Tribunal for a determination. (RTRA Act s169)
     
    Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance only. It is not legal advice. The RTA cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For more information refer to Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008."
     



Stacey Holt

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