*This may also apply to complexes which received plumbing approval before 2008.

Our focus is on getting the best outcome for all our customers. We're working with the Body Corporates to explain all the options, what this will mean for your billing, and we will support the complex in making a decision on your preferred option. 

I own a unit in a complex built before 2008. What does this mean for me?

If you manage or own a unit within a complex especially one built before 2008 and you do not have an individual sub meter for your unit, there is no change for you.

If you manage or own a unit within a complex that was built or had plumbing approved before 2008 and you do have an individual sub meter for your unit, we’ll be in touch.

We are reviewing all impacted unit complexes in our region, which will take some time.  When we start reviewing your complex, we will let you know.  We will work closely with you and your Body Corporate to explain any impacts for your unit complex and also to discuss options to ensure your complex is compliant. 

What are the options for my complex?

To ensure your unit complex is compliant and to continue accurate billing, the body corporate, with the help of our Unitywater team, will need to choose from the following two options: 

1. Change the way that individual unit owners are billed for water usage charges:

1.1 Property Share Percentage billing, or

1.2 Body Corporate All Consumption billing

2. Upgrade the sub metering within the complex

To help you understand how the different options work please download this fact sheet:

Fact sheet - your options explained

To decide which option is most suitable for your complex, we will discuss the impacts of each option with you and your Body Corporate.  We also recommend that your complex engages with their private plumber who can help advise the complex of the work required to upgrade sub meters and the cost of doing this work.

Frequently asked questions

Sub metering exists when there is a large (‘master’) water meter at a complex as well as individual (‘sub’) water meters for each unit.   The master meter measures the total water being used at the complex and the sub meters, which are downline of the master meter, measure the water used by each unit.  If there is any discrepancy between the master meter usage and the total of the sub meters, then this is billed to the body corporate for common area usage ( such as pool and garden).

The review of sub metered complexes will address some meter reading and billing problems currently caused by faulty sub metering.

There are some common issues that complexes are now experiencing due to the age of the sub metered equipment, which is affecting billing accuracy for the Body Corporate and unit owners. These include:

  • Slow or jammed sub meters;
  • Sub meters that are not easily accessible because of their location inside units (e.g. in cupboards, behind walls and in other hard to reach places); and
  • Blank or faulty readings on the “electronic digital device”, which is a device that records all the sub meter readings from within the building on one panel.

Where sub meters are still in working order, Unitywater continues to bill water usage to the unit, using readings from these sub meters. 

However, as sub meters within a complex start to experience issues, billing for the unit complex becomes challenging and Unitywater needs to work with owners and Body Corporates to resolve these.

Unitywater will work closely with impacted complexes to discuss their options.  However, it is the decision of the unit owners through the Body Corporate to choose the most suitable option for your complex.

If the Body Corporate and unit owners are unable to reach a decision, Unitywater must still make changes to ensure the billing to your unit complex is accurate and meets our regulatory obligations, under the South East Queensland Customer Water and Wastewater Code, which governs the way we bill our customers

In this situation Unitywater will need to transition your unit complex to a different billing method for water usage charges.  Instead of charging water usage based on meter readings from a unit’s sub meter, the total water usage charges for the complex will be apportioned to each unit based on their Property Share Percentage - See option 1.1 below. 

Unfortunately we are unable to estimate the change because there are many different variables for the different options.  You should consider the following when you are assessing the options:

  • Property Share Percentage Billing: changes to bill will depend on factors such as your percentage share, the total usage at the complex and your individual water usage. The change you should assess is that your water and sewerage charges will be determined by the total usage at the complex and your percentage share, rather than your individual usage.
  • Body Corporate all Consumption Billing: your Unitywater bill will change because we will bill unit owners for water and sewerage fixed access charges only, not for water or sewerage usage costs. Your Body Corporate may also choose to pass through some water and sewerage usage costs to the unit owners. Please discuss this with your Body Corporate to better assess changes to your overall costs.
  • Sub meter upgrade: the way that your bill is calculated will not change from the current method. However, there are costs involved in the upgrade itself. The costs can vary depending on your current sub metering network. Your Body Corporate will need to engage a licensed plumber or hydraulic engineer to provide a quote for the cost of an upgrade, which is payable by the complex.

What happens next?

Step 1
Unitywater will be in touch with the Body Corporate 

When your unit complex is ready for review, one of our friendly team members will phone your Body Corporate representative to explain how the review process works, what the possible impacts are for your unit complex and outline the options that are available.

We will ask your Body Corporate to work with the unit owners to choose the most suitable option for the complex and we will provide a timeframe for any decisions.   

We'll also send written advice so Body Coporates and Unit owners have all the information. 

Step 2
Body Corporate and unit owners to select the best option for them

Unitywater requires the Body Corporate to liaise with the unit owners about the process, options and timeframes and to co-ordinate a decision by unit owners for the complex within the timeframe agreed.

It is likely that this information may need to be shared at Body Corporate meetings and may need to comply with the Body Corporate approval processes and align to meeting calendars.

Unitywater will continue to provide support and information to the Body Corporate during this step.

Step 3
Body corporate will notify Unitywater of the decision

Once the complex has made their decision to either upgrade their sub meters or to change the way water usage is billed, the Body Corporate representative for your complex will notify Unitywater of this decision in writing.

Depending on the option you choose, some additional paperwork may be required.

Step 4
Confirmation advice from Unitywater - Body Corporates and unit owners notified

We will confirm in writing the option you have chosen and expected timeframes for the changes to be made. Unitywater will advise next steps relevant to the option chosen.

Option 1.1: Property Share Percentage Billing

Each unit pays a percentage share of the total water and sewerage usage, of the entire complex, rather than being billed for usage through each sub meter.

  • The total water usage for the complex is calculated by taking a meter reading from the large water meter (master meter), connected at the boundary of the complex. 
  • Unitywater will only read the master meter, each sub meter is not read. 
  • The amount allocated to each unit is based on the percentage share, as contained in the Contribution Schedule of the complex's Community Management Scheme.
  • The allocated water (as determined by the property share percentage) and sewerage usage costs will be included in the water and sewerage bill for each unit, along with fixed water and sewerage access charges, and bulk water charges.

Figure 1: Example of how total water usage for the complex is allocated, based on property share percentage, across the units within the complex. 

Option 1 - Property Share Percentage billing

* These figures and percentages are an example guide only. 

Your property share percentage amount is determined by the Contribution Schedule of your complex's Community Management Scheme (or Community Titles Scheme).

The percentage share may also be called the 'lot entitlement' for the unit. 

If you are unsure what your property share percentage is, please discuss this with your Body Corporate representative.

What will my bill look like under this option?

If you change to Property Share Percentage billing, your property share percentage will show on the back page of your Unitywater bill, under the 'Water Meter Details' section. Please see example below. 

How to see property share on page 2 of your bill

Meter ID: this is the serial number of the master water meter servicing your building complex

Usage (kL): is the total water usage for the entire complex, as measured by the main water meter that connects the entire complex to the water network.

Property share %: this is the percentage amount of the total water usage that is charged to your property (in this example, it's 30%). This percentage is defined by the Contribution Schedule in the Community Management Scheme of your complex.

Total usage (kL): this is the amount of water that is charged to your unit; it equals the 'Usage' column multiplied by your property share percentage (in this example, 28kL x 30% = 8.4kL). 


It’s likely there’ll be a change to the amount of water usage charged if you move to Property Share Percentage billing. However, this could either be an increase or a decrease depending on the total water usage of your complex and how much water has previously been charged through your individual sub meter.

To minimise water usage costs for everyone, the Body Corporate and owners can work together to encourage water wise behaviour and also use water efficient devices wherever possible throughout the complex and within units.   

A 'common area' within a complex refers to those parts of the property that benefit all owners. These include areas such as pool areas, common gardens, change rooms, communal taps and showers and driveways.

When units are billed using the Property Share Percentage billing approach, all common area water usage and charges are included in the allocation to individual owners using the property share percentage.

 

Please refer to the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA), as many factors impact your ability to charge usage to tenants.

We also encourage you to speak with your property manager or directly with your tenants if you self-manage your property.

Property Share Percentage Billing is a commonly used calculation method in complexes where there are many owners and residents. If this option is not suitable for your complex, please consider the other options provided:

  • Body Corporate All Consumption billing, or
  • Upgrading the sub meters for your unit complex

Option 1.2: Body Corporate All Consumption billing

The water and sewerage usage charges for the entire complex are billed directly to the body corporate.

  • The total water usage for the complex is calculated by taking a meter reading from the large water meter (master meter), connected at the boundary of the complex.
  • Unitywater will only read the master meter, each sub meter is not read.
  • Water and sewerage usage costs may be on-charged to individual unit owners - this is a decision for the owners of the complex, through the Body Corporate.
  • Unit owners will continue to receive a bill from Unitywater, but the bill will contain only fixed access charges for water and sewerage services. 

Figure 2: Example of how total water usage for the complex is billed under the Body Corporate All Consumption billing option. 

 

Option 2 - BCAC

* These figures and percentages are an example guide only. 

Yes, you will continue to receive a quarterly bill from Unitywater for fixed access charges for water and sewerage services. For more information about these charges and how much they cost, visit Charges on your bill explained and Pricing, fees and charges.

This is a decision for the owners, through the Body Corporate. 

It is the owners, through the Body Corporate, who must make this decision.  For more details on how this decision-making process will work at your complex, we recommend you contact your Body Corporate representative. Unitywater will not make this decision.

Unitywater will also require your Body Corporate to sign a deed called the 'Body Corporate Volumetric Charges Deed' in order to transfer your unit across to this billing method.

If this Deed is required, it will need to be signed by:

  • Seal of Body Corporate and two committee members (one of whom is chairperson or secretary); OR
  • Seal of the Body Corporate and the Body Corporate Manager and one other person OR
  • All owners as individuals.

We can only transfer your complex to this billing method once we receive formal notification from the Body Corporate that unit owners have agreed to move to this approach and you provide the following supporting documents:

  1. A copy of your Community Management Scheme
  2. A signed Deed
    • 2.1. If the Deed has been signed by all owners as individuals, we also require minutes of the Body Corporate meeting approving the change.

If you are a Body Corporate Representative and your complex is proceeding with Body Corporate All Consumption billing, you can download a copy of the Body Corporate Volumetric Charges Deed, along with a handy checklist.

Your Unitywater Account Manager can support you with this process and answer any questions you may have, including confirmation of the Commencement Date in schedule 2 of the Deed, which must be agreed with Unitywater.

There are 2 tiers for water consumption. Tier 1 for up to 822 litres/day and Tier 2 for greater than 822 litres/day. If the Body Corporate All Consumption billing option is selected, the number of units in the complex will determine each tier.

For example, if there are 10 units the Tier 1 water consumption will be 822 litres per day x 10 units = 8,220 litres per day. Any water usage over 8,220 litres per day would be charged at the Tier 2 rate. The same multiplier of 'number of units in the complex' also applies to sewerage usage tiers.

Option 2: Upgrade sub meters at your unit complex

What does it mean for my sub metering infrastructure?

It means your complex will pay to upgrade their sub meters and all the associated plumbing within the complex to be compliant. The upgrade on the sub metered network must meet the requirements outlined in the Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code and the Unitywater Sub Metering Policy and Technical Specifications

Compliance requirements include:

  • the sub meters must be installed in locations in the complex which are freely accessible at any time for maintenance and meter readings;
  • the sub meters must be labelled clearly to uniquely identify each sub meter in the complex, and must accurately measure the water flowing to each unit;
  • the sub meters must have the correct valves on both sides of the sub meter and be of a certain meter type.

Depending on the location of existing sub meters, this may involve relocating the sub meters and their associated plumbing.

Once new sub meters are installed, Unitywater will read these sub meters and use these readings to bill each unit in the complex for their individual water usage.  This means you will continue to receive a bill for the actual water used by your unit.

Example of compliant sub metering:

Sub-meters - installed correctly

What are the benefits of getting sub meters upgraded at my complex?

If sub meters at the complex are upgraded, it means water and sewerage usage charges can continue to be billed to individual units based on the actual water used by that unit.

Once your sub metering is compliant, Unitywater will assume responsibility for any future maintenance and replacement of the sub meters within the complex.

Maintenance of any associated private plumbing and other equipment or infrastructure will remain the responsibility of the complex.

Unitywater will also start reading the new sub meters for billing purposes.

If you are the owner of a unit, please contact your Body Corporate representative to find out what is happening for your complex.

If you are a Body Corporate of a complex who is interested in upgrading their sub meters, there are a number of steps to be followed and it is important to know upfront that this process can take some time to complete.

Your licensed plumber or hydraulic engineer will manage this process on your behalf.  They will need to be familiar with all of the Unitywater and Local Council rules and only install approved products.  They will then undertake the upgrade to make sure the sub metering meets the specified technical requirements.

Once your licensed plumber has completed their work, they will provide the required paperwork to us, including a plan showing the details of the upgraded sub metering and confirmation of water flow and digital device (Automated Meter Reader) testing, if applicable.  We will then undertake an audit for compliance and issue an approval letter.  Please allow approximately 20 business days for this audit and approval process.

Once we have issued the approval letter, we register your sub metering. Unitywater will then take responsibility for all future billing and maintenance of your sub metering.  This includes any future replacement of your sub metering.

A detailed step-by-step guide can be viewed here: ‘What you need to know before installing Sub-meters for an existing premises (retro-fit)’. 

Any upgrade of sub meters, including all associated plumbing and construction costs, will be at the cost of the complex (Body Corporate and unit owners).

This is because the plumbing and electrical infrastructure and the sub meters within complexes built before 2008 are owned, and therefore maintained and upgraded, by your complex.  

You can find more information about upgrading your sub metering (also called a ‘retrofit’) on our Building and Developing page

How much will an upgrade cost?

Every complex is different and the cost of an upgrade can vary significantly, depending on factors such as existing sub meter locations, placement of associated plumbing and electrical infrastructure and the layout and number of units in the complex. Therefore, it is not possible for Unitywater to provide any guidance or estimates on the cost of upgrading to compliant sub metering. 

Unitywater recommends that the Body Corporate contact a hydraulic engineer or licensed plumber to inspect and quote on your complexes individual needs.

Undertaking an upgrade is a highly technical process which requires specialised knowledge.  If your unit complex is looking to upgrade their sub meters, Unitywater recommends that the Body Corporate contact a hydraulic engineer or licensed plumber to inspect and quote on your complexes individual needs.

Any upgrade work must be undertaken by your complex and performed by a licensed plumber. Unfortunately we cannot provide recommendations for specific contractors, but you may choose to refer to this government website to find a licensed plumber - QBCC – Find a local contractor.

Your licensed plumber should refer to our website page for more information: Sub-metering for plumbers

If your complex decides not to upgrade their sub meters, then your old sub meters will remain in place but will no longer be read by Unitywater and will not be used for calculating your water and sewerage bill.

The way the water usage on your bill is measured will therefore change.  There are two options for how water usage can be billed to unit owners within your complex when sub meters are not used:

1.1  Property Share Percentage billing:

Each unit pays a percentage share of the total water and sewerage usage of the entire complex, rather than being billed for usage through each sub meter; 

or

1.2  Body Corporate All Consumption billing:

The full water usage bill for the entire complex is sent directly to the body corporate. Water usage costs may then be on-charged to individual unit owners - this is a decision for the owners of the complex, through the Body Corporate.

If this option is chosen, each unit will continue to receive a bill from Unitywater, but only for fixed access charges for water and sewerage services.  

If there are hot water sub meters in your complex, an upgrade may not be a suitable option for you. Unitywater do not own, repair, maintain or read hot water meters.  Please refer to your plumber and s3.8 of the Unitywater Sub-metering Policy

We suggest you discuss this further with your chosen hydraulic engineer or licensed plumber to better understand your options. 

 

General sub metering FAQs

Prior to 2008 there was no governing legislation to inform developers of the technical specifications when installing sub meters and associated technologies. Sub metering requirements were introduced via the Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code on 1 January 2008.  This means that many complexes built before 2008 do not comply with this regulation.

Unitywater has made all efforts to continue billing using meter readings from existing sub meters where they have remained in working order.  However, as these sub meters and their associated equipment starts to age and experience issues, we are unable to continue billing from them.  The plumbing codes also require us to meet specific conditions for compliance. We now need to work with owners and Body Corporates to make changes so sub meters are compliant, or to change billing arrangements so that Unitywater is able to bill accurately.

If unit owners and the Body Corporate would prefer to retain the current billing method, an upgrade to the sub metering must be undertaken by your complex. This work will be at the cost of the complex (Body Corporate and unit owners). Work to upgrade plumbing and sub meters must be carried out by a licensed contractor and will need to comply with the Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code and Sub-metering Policy and Technical Specifications. Depending on the current sub meters location, this may involve relocating the plumbing and sub meters.  

In 2008 the Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code was put in place.  This contains technical specifications for the installation of sub meters and associated technologies. 

All complexes with sub metering must now comply with the code.  As the plumbing, sub-meters and equipment (such as digital reading devices) in complexes built before 2008 are owned and maintained by unit owners and the Body Corporate, the complex is responsible for fixing the equipment.

If your Body Corporate has previously contacted Unitywater to report issues with sub meters such as problems with the meter readings, then Unitywater may have advised them to undertake repairs. 

However, we are now proactively reviewing all complexes with sub metering installed prior to 2008 and starting to contact the Body Corporate representatives to advise them of what is required. Please reach out to your Body Corporate for information about maintenance and replacement programs, including advice on whether a provision for these works is included in the Body Corporate sinking fund forecast.

Unfortunately, we are not able to accept customer meter readings taken for individual sub meters.  Unitywater is required to bill the complex as a whole, which in a sub metered network means reading the main (Body Corporate) meter and ensuring the total consumption of all individual sub meters as a collective, plus common area usage, is reconciled.  Actual meter readings, taken by Unitywater, are required to issue accurate bills, as per the requirements in the South East Queensland Water and Wastewater Code

 

Repairs or replacements to only part of a complex will not make the complex compliant under the Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code and the Unitywater Sub-metering Policy and Technical Specifications.

For any complex built before 2008, all sub meters and associated plumbing and equipment are owned by the complex (unit owners and the Body Corporate).  If your complex is not currently compliant, then the complex is also responsible for maintaining this sub metering equipment.  The sub metering equipment includes all internal plumbing, physical sub meters and digital reading devices, which are also known as ‘automated meter readers’ (AMR) or ‘scan counters’.

If sub metering is upgraded to comply with these requirements, Unitywater then assumes responsibility for reading the sub meters, as well as any future maintenance and replacement of the new sub meters.  Maintenance of all other plumbing and other equipment will remain the responsibility of the complex.

Yes, if you are currently eligible to receive the Queensland Government pensioner subsidy, you will continue to be eligible regardless of which option your complex selects. This is because you will still continue to receive a bill from Unitywater. 

If you don't already receive a pensioner subsidy check if you eligible

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