When is a deadline not a deadline and other Irish Water questions answered

Deadline day is upon us and we have your questions answered

When is a deadline not a deadline and other Irish Water questions answered

When is a deadline not a deadline and other Irish Water questions answered

 

Another Irish Water deadline? What is this one about?

Well, people have until midnight on Monday February 2nd to sign up to Irish Water or else.

Or else what?

Um. Or else nothing, as it happens.

I’m lost. Help me out here, please?

Okay, so, the first deadline for sending back the Irish Water application packs was October 31st last year. This deadline was completely ignored by hundreds of thousands of people as the utility flailed about in a swamp of confusion and discontent. So then another deadline of November 30th was set. This too was ignored by many people as thousands took to the streets in protest at the charges. The Government then caved in (or listened to the people depending on your take) and announced a dramatic overhaul of the water charging system. A new deadline of February 2nd was announced for registration.

Three deadlines in four months? This one is set in stone, though, right?

Not remotely. Before you tear your house apart looking for the registration pack or devote the next six hours to calling the company, you should know that there will be no penalties imposed on those who fail to meet the “deadline” for registration. Speaking on Morning Ireland Labour party Senator Lorraine Higins said this was never “a drop dead deadline”. In fact she used that very phrase on three separate occasions. She also said that “there will be a situation where you will be given optimal time to actually register.”

What does that mean?

We have no idea. She then went on to say that it was “very important for people to register today”.

Why?

Your guess is as good as ours. After her interview, Irish Water clarified things by saying that some people who fail to sign up for the new regime may face higher charges at some future point.

Right, what does that mean?

Irish Water spokeswoman Elizabeth Arnett has said there will be an assumption made that those who do not confirm their details with Irish Water are part of a two-adult household so will face the standard charge of €260. She also said that households who do not register with the controversial utility will not be in a position to apply to the Department of Social Protection for the €100 Water Conservation Grant although the deadline for applying for that grant is still some way off.

So back to the deadline. What happens if I miss it?

Nothing. A spokeswoman for Irish Water told The Irish Times the utility will continue to accept confirmation from people or changes in their details after the deadline. “People can confirm or change their details with us anytime. We’ll continue to do that beyond February 2nd. The earlier you give it to us the better so you get the correct bill. If you get a bill that has any aspect of it not right, get onto to us.”

Okay then, how do I register?

You can register at www.water.ie or by returning the revised application form downloadable from www.water.ie. You can also register by phone from next Monday.You don’t need a pin number or the original documentation unless you want to register online.

Remind me again what the charges are?

Households made up of two adults or more will have their water charges capped at €160 a year - a figure that includes a €100 water conservation grant that will only be applied if people register with Irish Water. Single adult households will pay an effective €60 rate. The charges are capped until January 1st, 2019, and legislation has been promised to allow for capped charges to continue after that. The metered charge has also been reduced from just under 0.5c a litre to 0.37 cent. If a house has just a water supply or only a sewage service they will pay 50 per cent of the new rates.

So if everyone is paying the same charge the meters are useless now, right?

Ah not really. If you are on a meter and use less water than the assessed charge you can get a rebate. The Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has said that if metered households cut use by 10-15 per cent they will be able to “beat the cap”. If consumption in the first year after a meter is installed is less than the capped charge, a once-off rebate on the amount they paid before moving to a meter will be applied. This will be calculated by Irish Water.

What’s this about a water conservation grant?

To be honest, it seemed to be less about conserving water and more about reducing water bills to stop a national meltdown. It’s €100. The Department of Social Protection will administer it. It will not be operational until September next. To be eligible, householders with any element of public water/ sewage water supply or on group water schemes or with private supplies - must complete a valid registration with Irish Water.

When is the deadline for applying for the grant?

Who knows? All we have been told by the Department of Environment is that a separate deadline is to be put in place although there is no indication when this deadline is likely to be. The grant is to be administered by the Department of Social Protection which is in the process of putting new systems in in place to administer the scheme.

What happens if I refuse to pay my water charges?

The power Irish Water had to reduce the supply of water where water charges are not paid is being removed. Instead, unless the customer enters into a payment plan, late payment penalties of €30 for a single adult household and €60 for other households will be added to bills three months following a year of non-payment. If someone does not pay, Irish Water can apply the charge to a property in the event of non-payment.

When will my first bill arrive?

The billing began in January and the first bills will start arriving in April.

I am renting a home. Am I liable or is my landlord?

The occupier pays the bill. Irish Water wants landlords to prove that they are not the occupier by supplying the tenant’s name. Then Irish Water will then contact the tenant and demand they complete the registration.