Initiated by the government, the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme aims to pay eligible customers for surplus solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity. This scheme is managed by the Department of Energy and Water Supply (DEWS).
The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRA Act), however, does not make specific reference to the solar bonus scheme, but it does provide guidelines for service charging.
It allows a landlord to charge the tenant for the amount of service they have consumed at the property. As for the rebate, the Electricity Act 1994 states that whoever has the electricity account in their name shall have the right to claim the solar bonus, whether it is the landlord or the tenant.
What property owners do, sometimes, is they will place the supply authority in their own name and then seek to recover the charges to their account from the tenant. As per the s165 (3bii) under the RTRA Act, in cases where the rental property is individually metered, the landlord cannot ask the tenant to pay more than the amount charged by the supply authority for the quantity of service they have consumed. The maximum amount that can be charged is only the pre-rebate amount.
Here are the options on how a tenant can be charged for solar power:
- The electricity account is under the tenant’s name. They pay the account directly to the supply authority and receive any rebate.
- The landlord has the account under their name. They pay the account, receive the rebate, and ask the tenant to reimburse the full amount.
- The landlord has the account under their name. They pay the account, receive the rebate, and ask the tenant to reimburse the full amount minus minus the rebate amount.
- The landlord has the account under their name. They pay the account and receive the rebate. The cost of the electricity service is then absorbed in the rent.
It is important that the details about the electricity charging be included in the tenancy agreement where it is agreed and signed by both the landlord and the tenant upon the start of the tenancy. By doing so, conflicts and misunderstandings can be avoided.