Sharjah: Faulty Sewa (Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority) meters have left several tenants fuming over huge outstanding bills while the authorities say tenants are responsible for checking the meters.
Several residents complain they are oblivious of faulty meters until it is time for them to relocate to neighbouring emirates — leaving them with an outstanding bill that is debited from their deposit. The deposit amount for apartments varies but for a standard two-bedroom apartment it is Dh2000, according to Sewa.
Hamida Abu Bakr, a resident of Sharjah, is one of the many tenants hit by an outstanding bill caused by a faulty meter. As she was being charged Dh400 per month, Hamida was not aware that the metre was faulty.
"I have been living in a flat for more than four years and my bills were always paid promptly.
"Last month I decided to relocate to Dubai, and when I visited Sewa to collect my deposit and close my account I was in a shock when they told me that my meter was not working and I was only being charged for seven months," said Hamida, who explained that the authorities asked her to pay Dh180 for each month.
"After complaining and talking to the seniors they accepted to charge me Dh130 as an estimate for each month. This is a one-bedroom flat with only two occupants who are out from morning until evening, and my monthly bill has always been above Dh400, even when I was out of country," she said.
"I find this is unfair because if the meter was not reading properly, how should I have known? I was not aware about it at all," Hamida said.
An official at Sewa, who declined to be named, explained that it is the residents' responsibility to be aware that the amount they are charged is significantly lower than their consumption. "If the tenant sees that they are being charged very little, they should notify Sewa immediately to change the meter. Meters are likely to be faulty due to the environment, or other factors," said the official, who declined to elaborate.
"When the tenant decides to change homes to another emirate, all their outstanding payments will have to be paid. That can either be paid for or debited from the deposit," he said.
"Tenants cannot close their account until their outstanding payments are cleared. They should also take precautionary measures and check that the water metre is working properly, and if it is not they should report it immediately," he added.