FEA account holders liable for security deposits

17/10/2011 14:30

FIJI Electricity Authority account holders are liable for any change in security deposits as the account and meters belong to them and not to tenants who rent their premises.

The Consumer Council is advising residential tenants who would see the impending security deposit appear in their electricity bill to advise their landlords that they (landlords) as FEA account holders/meter holders are liable for the deposit. The liability for any debts would remain with the account holder.

The consumer security deposit is for consumers under whose name the account is held. This advice is issued based on a number of queries made by tenants seeking clarification on who should pay the security deposit.

Tenants who pay electricity bills on accounts held by their landlords should not be paying the deposit as the account and meter is not theirs. Also residential tenants are not permanent and have no ownership over the electricity account.

The Consumer Council believes that the FEA would be unfairly charging non-account holders, particularly with Fiji’s very large residential tenant population, when the proposed security deposit hike appear in the bills.

Meanwhile, the Council continues to question why consumer security deposits are not utilised by the FEA for overdue accounts, when the FEA has expressly stated that the deposit is held as security against the non-payment of electricity accounts in their paid advertisement when these accounts are overdue. The FEA’s 2010 annual report shows ‘customer deposits’ totalling about $23.2million, while the amount of electricity debtors written off against the deposits held was $208,169 [less than 1% of total customer deposits held]. It shows that FEA has hardly utilised the deposits to address overdue accounts or bad debtors.