Can the property management office cut off your water?

Jill is a lady who lives in the Beverly Mountains within the suburbs of Guangzhou, a luxury location where billionaires reside. One day, when she returned home late one night, she found that all of her things in her home were turned over, and her diamond jewellery had all gone. A burglar had snuck in and stolen everything!

Dismayed, she called the police, but as the security guard had fallen asleep, there were no records of anybody visiting the Beverly Mountains. The CCTV had also been broken for half a year, and nobody had bothered to fix it. The police had no clue of who might have broken in.

As a result, Jill decided not to pay the monthly property management fee until the money lost from her stolen diamond jewellery was fully paid off.

Two months later, the Property Management Office decided to send the manager, Howard to go ask her why she didn’t pay the fees. Jill replied smugly, “Don’t you know? My house was burgled and all my diamonds were gone. This is due to the broken CCTV and your sleeping security guard. Do you really expect me to pay a dime for this quality of security? I am not going to pay until the money I lost has been recovered, and that is going to be at least 50 years.”

Howard warned, “If you don’t pay the management fees, we will turn off your water supply, electricity grid and gas supply. The burglary was not caused by us, so you have no right not to pay the management fees. We will give you a week to repay the fees.”

Law In A Minute

No, the Property Management Office has no right to cut off her water, electricity and gas supply. Even if she doesn’t pay the management fees. These services are not part of the service rendered by the Property Management Office.

The contract between the Property Management Office and owners is a property management contract whereby such contract regulates the terms of conditions of management service, such as lighting systems and security services. While the responding companies providing utility services such as power, water, and gas supply are regulated under China’s Contract Law.

It states where the power customer fails to pay the electricity fees and breach of contract damages within a reasonable time limit after receiving a demand for payment, the power supplier may shut off the power supply.

Therefore, the Property Management Office has no right to do so. Legal Basis Contract Law (1999)

Article 182

The power customer shall timely pay the electricity fees in accordance with the relevant provisions of the State and with the terms of the contract. Where the power customer delays in paying the electricity fees, it shall pay breach of contract damages in accordance with the contract. Where the power customer fails to pay the electricity fees and breach of contract damages within a reasonable time limit after receiving a demand for payment, the power supplier may shut off the power supply in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the state

Article 184

A contract for the supply of water, gas or heat shall be governed by reference to the relevant provisions on power supply contracts.

Edgar Choi is author of “Commercial Law in a Minute” and host of a legal-advice account “Law in a minute” on WeChat

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