Centralised Gas Hot Water Service Reimbursement Policy
Last published 12 Oct 2023
Following a decision by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) in October 2020, which determined that NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC), as the landlord, was responsible for the cost of gas used to heat hot water supplied from centralised gas hot water services, LAHC will reimburse tenants who lived in premises where a centralised gas hot water service was used for their gas usage costs for the period 22 March 2014 to 22 March 2020.
A centralised gas hot water service (also known as a common or communal hot water system) supplies hot water to all units in a building. It generally consists of hot water heaters, with a pump(s) to circulate hot water through a central piping loop throughout the building to individual units. Each unit has its own individual hot water meter that measures the amount of hot water supplied to the unit.
Each tenant is charged for gas usage based upon the amount of hot water delivered and consumed within the tenancy and the efficiency of the centralised gas hot water service.
In line with NCAT’s decision, LAHC accepts responsibility for social housing tenant gas usage costs for hot water from a centralised gas hot water service during the period 22 March 2014 to 22 March 2020. The reimbursement period under this scheme is for a maximum of 6 years from 22 March 2014 until 22 March 2020, in accordance with the statute of limitations.
From 23 March 2020, the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 limited any further liability to LAHC by specifying that social housing tenants who reside in premises where a centralised hot water service operates are responsible for the cost of gas used for their hot water.
This policy covers social housing tenancies managed by the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and community housing providers.
3. Policy Statement
Current and former social housing tenants who held a tenancy in a social housing property that received hot water from a centralised gas hot water service between 22 March 2014 and 22 March 2020 can apply for a reimbursement of the cost of gas associated with hot water usage.
Current and former tenants can check with their local DCJ Housing office or community housing provider, who have a list of properties where a centralised gas hot water service operated during the period of claim.
Those that wish to apply for reimbursement under this scheme must complete and submit an application form with all the required supporting documentation.
Applications will only be accepted from head tenants or authorised household members who were gas account holders of a social housing tenancy where a centralised gas hot water service was in use.
Applications must be signed by the applicant. Applicants will be required to sign a Letter of Offer and agree to terms and conditions, such as acceptance of the compensation amount as being the full and final amount that can be claimed for gas usage costs related to a centralised gas hot water service.
If the head tenant, or authorised household member, whose name was listed on the gas hot water bill had passed away during the claim period (22 March 2014 to 22 March 2020) an alternative head tenant/authorised household member can apply to be assessed for a reimbursement. Evidence of the person’s death must be supplied (e.g.: Death Certificate).
LAHC will accept claims for reimbursement up until 30 June 2024. The reimbursement scheme will be reviewed after June 2024 to determine if further claims will be accepted.
Assessment of claims will be based on copies of gas account usage/bills submitted, or by using actual or estimated gas usage data obtained from the gas network owner as well as entitlements to government rebates and retailer service charges. LAHC will not accept account summaries or statements for any period to complete an assessment. If an account summary or statement is received LAHC will make an offer based on data from the gas network owner.
In some instances, the assessment will be based on a combination of actual gas bills provided by the applicant and the historical usage data provided to LAHC for periods where gas bills are not available.
LAHC will not reimburse for usage associated with other gas appliances (i.e. stove/heater).
Once the amount of gas usage (in dollars) and other charges and deductions has been calculated, GST (10%) will be calculated and the applicant will be reimbursed the GST they would have expended.
The NSW Government Gas Rebate is to be universally deducted in full from all reimbursement amounts with exceptions being where submitted gas bills show this was not received or there is more than 1 gas appliance.
LAHC will only reimburse the supply charge where hot water is the only gas appliance.
When bills have been provided LAHC will only deduct from the reimbursement the percentage of a usage discount relating to the gas hot water usage.
LAHC will not reimburse the following:
- Good will credits
- Carbon Tax Credits
- Gas credit rebate
- Cost to obtain copies of bills
- Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Vouchers
- Late payment fees
- Reconnection/disconnection fees
- Meter read fees
If a bill received starts before (22 March 2014) or ends after (22 March 2020) then LAHC will reduce the entitlement period for reimbursement using a daily calculation.
LAHC will provide a 3 months grace period from the date applications will be accepted to allow them to be submitted without reducing the claim period. Applications received after this date will result in a reduction of the claim period.
For applicants residing in properties whose tenancy is managed by:
- DCJ Housing, applications will be accepted from 1 February 2022.
- A community housing provider, applications will be accepted from 03 October 2023.
For example any applications received from 1 May 2022 for a property whose tenancy is managed by DCJ Housing with a full six year entitlement will have the claim period reduced by one month (i.e. 5 years and 11 months). Claims received from 1 June 2022 with a full six year entitlement will have the claim reduced by 2 months (5 years and 10 months).
Alternatively, any applications received from 25 January 2024 for a property whose tenancy is managed by a community housing provider with a full six year entitlement will have the claim period reduced by one month (i.e. 5 years and 11 months). Claims received from 25 February 2024 with a full six year entitlement will have the claim reduced by 2 months (5 years and 10 months).
Once the application has been assessed and approved, an offer of reimbursement will be issued to the applicant.
Payment can only be made by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) into the bank account nominated by the tenant. Current or former tenants cannot request that the funds be credited to their rent or other tenancy accounts.
Once payment is made then no further claims will be considered.
If an application is declined, or the claimant is not satisfied with the reimbursement amount offered, then they can request a review by submitting the request in writing, stating reasons for the review to LAHC’s Gas Reimbursement Team within 30 days of receiving the offer or advice that their application has been declined. The request should be supported by any additional information for consideration as part of the review process (eg: gas bills).
LAHC will conduct an internal review to determine eligibility, or if a variation to the offered amount is warranted. The review shall be completed within 28 business days of receipt of the written review request.
If claimants do not accept LAHC’s eligibility assessment or offer of reimbursement after a review has been conducted, the claimant will be referred to the NCAT who have jurisdiction to determine the matter.
4. Legislation and Compliance
NSW Land and Housing Corporation, Aboriginal Housing Office, Department of Communities and Justice and tenants must comply with their rights and obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
On 23 March 2020, the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 was amended to confirm that social housing residents are responsible for gas charges for centralised gas hot water systems.