Vulnerable People Continue to Suffer as Law Reform Stagnates

Over recent weeks it has come to my attention that property developers and energy retailers are able to establish energy contracts that leave tenants paying inflated energy prices.

This exploitation of tenants is due to the establishment of an Embedded Network where services for the basics of water, gas and electricity are installed by an energy company, instead of the developer.

The developer therefore saves money by not having to build this infrastructure and allows the energy provider to embed a long-term contract that tenants cannot negotiate, leaving them tied to the profiteering of that energy company.

One resident of an embedded network received a hot water bill for $2,000 for a 9-month period, while another was charged $9,700 for a 14-month period! When a resident complained about their exorbitant prices, they were threatened with disconnection despite knowing the customer was registered for life support.

This racket is causing mental and physical harm. Vulnerable people on fixed incomes are going without hot showers or essentials such as food and medicine, and many are having to turn to charity for support to manage their bills.

Vulnerable People Pay the Price for Lack of Law Reform

Embedded Networks are not new and are common practice in shopping centres, retirement villages, apartment complexes and caravan parks. However, regulation has not kept up, and with the rise in residential apartments, the consumer/tenant is getting ripped off.

Consumers are becoming trapped into energy agreements that are overpriced, uncompetitive and impossible to exit and there is no obligation for the seller or agent to disclose whether a complex is on an Embedded Network or not.

There have been many enquiries into Embedded Networks over the last six years with many recommendations including calling for an immediate ban on charging for hot and chilled water. While the NSW Government dawdles at a sluggish pace, the Victorian Government has realised this is an issue and banned Embedded Networks in most new residential apartments!

The laws governing Embedded Networks are not fit for purpose so if you would like to get involved, please send me an email [email protected] so we can collectively put pressure on the NSW Government and look after the most venerable members of our community. – CLR MONIKA BALL