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Water company is threatening*to take me to small claims court

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  • Water company is threatening*to take me to small claims court

    I own a flat which is rented out. It appears the tenant hasn't been paying the water bill. I now have a bill in my name and the water company is threatening to take me to small claims court. They must have got my name from the land registry as i have never lived at the flat. What are my options?


    Am i legally required to divulge who lives there. If it went to small claims court what would be my defence.. thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
    Tags: None

  • #2


    When did your tenant take occupation, and when did they cease paying for water?
    It is the landlords responsibility to inform the water company about the tenant (came into force about 2015 I think), but if the tenant has paid the bill in the past prior to the "new" rules I would think that a reasonable defence

    Flood and Water Management Act 2010

    (1)This section applies to residential premises which are occupied by one or more persons other than the owner (and not by the owner).

    (2)The owner must arrange for the undertaker to be given information about the occupiers.

    (3)If the owner fails to comply with subsection (2), the occupiers' liability for charges under this Chapter becomes shared jointly and severally with the owner.

    Comment


    • #3
      Simply The Water Industry Act 1991 s.144 (a) and (b) are your defence as this specifies liability being with the occupier(s) of the property.

      Send the water company involved a copy of the tenancy agreement for the period concerned and that should solve your issue and any tenancy for the current occupiers if these are now different.

      Owners are liable when a property is empty generally and if you are unwilling to provide details of who was in occupation I would imagine you will have difficulty at a small claims hearing as refusing to divulge the tenants may get a judges back up....
      Last edited by Kjun; 9th February 2021, 18:16:PM. Reason: Spell check

      Comment


      • #4
        In my post I inadvertently omitted that it is sec 45 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 which applies

        The part quoted in my post is preceded by the phrase:
        "(1)After section 144B of the Water Industry Act 1991 (charges: charging by volume) insertó"

        This creates a liability for the owner

        Comment


        • #5
          There is no liability for the owner other than when the property is empty as water service charges are not raised pursuant to the legislation you have quoted rather the Water Industry Act 1991.

          This is the legislation that also allows a water company to raise a charges scheme in order to bill its customers.

          The last attempt that the unnamed water company I work for made to take a landlord to court failed due to them not being an occupier pursuant to s.144 of the WIA which is fundamental.

          Comment


          • #6
            Just to clarify on the above s.144 c will only apply when it is brought into force, which to date it has not, and this is why only the occupier(s) are liable under s.144 a and b
            Last edited by Kjun; 9th February 2021, 19:36:PM. Reason: Terribly bad punctuation...

            Comment


            • #7
              Water Industry Act 1991 144CNon-owner occupiers

              (1)This section applies to residential premises which are occupied by one or more persons other than the owner (and not by the owner).

              (2)The owner must arrange for the undertaker to be given information about the occupiers.

              (3)If the owner fails to comply with subsection (2), the occupiers' liability for charges under this Chapter becomes shared jointly and severally with the owner.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yep am aware of it however it has not been brought into force to date so doesnít apply at present. Check the charges scheme for any water company and youíll find no reference to it only to the occupier being liable.

                I believe the original question was a defence to any claim and I have provided it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes and no!
                  It came into force in Wales (where I live) in January 2015 and I never imagined England to be that far behind!
                  I need to read the textual amendments more closely!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yeah we canít rely on it in England until adopted which does not seem to be on the cards.

                    Shifting liability to the landlord to inform of occupancy would help but ultimately if the tenant decides not to the outcome is still the same.

                    Comment

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