New tenant issues with locked gas meter boxes - Real estate industry bulletin 227
5 August 2020
What is the solution when the gas supply has been locked or removed at the start of a tenancy?
Suppliers and retailers – what is the difference?
First it’s important to note, retailers sell gas in Western Australia and gas suppliers provide this gas.
ATCO Gas Australia (ATCO) owns gas meters and is responsible for maintaining meters and the service pipes that brings gas into the premises from gas mains in the street.
Open a gas account as soon as possible
A new tenant should open an account with their preferred gas retailer as soon as possible after signing a lease agreement. Once the account has been established the retailer will notify the supplier and action can commence to reinstate the gas supply.
The timeframe for reinstating the gas supply depends upon a number of factors including whether the new tenant’s retailer is the same as that for the previous tenant and the type of disconnection.
A gas supplier will only remove or “lock” the gas supply in response to a customer’s failure to pay their gas bill, at the request of the retailer. Generally the process of locking the gas supply is:
- The gas retailer notifies the gas supplier that the bill has not been paid and it wants the gas supply to cease;
- The gas supplier attends the premises and may take one of the following actions, depending on the circumstances:
- Level 1: A lock is placed over the top of the gas valve in the meter box to prevent the valve being opened. Most disputes are resolved at this stage without further escalation.
- Level 2: The gas meter and gas regulator are removed. This usually happens within two days of the gas retailer's request.
- Level 3: The gas supply is disconnected at the street. This is a last resort and is unlikely to be necessary.
What can a property manager do?
There are a number of things that a property manager can do to make a smooth transition for a new tenant, including:
- Advise the vacating tenant to notify their gas retailer that they are moving out on a particular date.
- Advise a new tenant of the need to open an account with their preferred gas retailer as soon as possible as this is sometimes overlooked.
- Check the gas meter before the new tenant takes possession to see if there is a lock on the meter. This could be done in the process of completing an up-to-date ingoing property condition report. If the meter is locked, advise the new tenant to apply to their chosen retailer for its removal as soon as possible.
There are currently three suppliers of gas in Western Australia:
- ATCO Gas Australia (ATCO)
- Wesfarmers Kleenheat Gas Pty Ltd
- Esperance Power Station Pty Ltd.
There are nine gas retailers including the following five who predominantly service metropolitan areas:
Note of caution
Be mindful of the manner in which a property is advertised as an incoming tenant would reasonably expect that a gas supply is already connected to the property.
While suppliers take instruction from retailers, ATCO has advised that it is happy to take calls from consumers, including agents or tenants via telephone on 13 13 56.
For further information about the contents of this bulletin contact 1300 304 054 or email email@example.com.
Homelessness Week 2020 - 2nd to 8th August
Visit shelterwa.org.au/homelessness-week-2020 for information about events and activities.
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