Disconnecting the dots – cutting off electricity and/or limiting water supply to a unit due to non-payment
Disconnecting the electricity, or limiting the water supply of a unit owner or occupier for failing to pay their consumption charges for that electricity or water has never been easy. The law is far from certain as to when this is and is not enforceable. Some applications are granted, and some are not, whether opposed or unopposed.
The community scheme industry, as a whole, needs to know if a community scheme is entitled to limit, and in some cases, disconnect such services in circumstances where a unit owner does not pay certain amounts due by them. Would such limitation or disconnection require a court order or would a specific valid rule amendment, permitting the body corporate to do so under specific circumstances, be sufficient? Would a body corporate be permitted to disconnect electricity if arrear levies were not settled? Or only if electricity charges were not settled? If a body corporate links the disconnection of electricity to the non-payment of levies (which do not include electricity charges), then it may be problematic and unenforceable. But if community schemes are continuously forced to subsidise those non-paying owners who continue to enjoy free services at the expense of the paying owners, this is also unjustifiable.
As Group Chief Legal Officer, Fausto Di Palma explains in this article, clarity and consistency are needed from the courts: