Who is liable for water charges and bills- L or T?

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  • Who is liable for water charges and bills- L or T?

    Northumbrian Water Dispute

    I am a landlord.
    My two flats had no tenants and Northumbrian Water is pursuing me through the small claims procedure for water charges during this period.
    My argument is that as no water services were used during this period there should be no charge. I told Northumbrian water that as a tradesman was doing some work in the property my understanding is that water should be available by law for health and safety reasons; though I understand from the tradesman that no water services were used in the property during the vacant period.

    Any advice?



  • #2
    Is the water supply on a meter or rates?

    If it’s rates, the owner is responsible whether occupied or unoccupied, one drop taken or a whole lake.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Poppy View Post
      If it’s rates, the owner is responsible whether occupied or unoccupied, one drop taken or a whole lake.
      Not correct.

      Normally the tenant is responsible whilst there is a tenancy agreement unless the contract specifically states that the rent includes water charges.


      • #4
        I am responding on the basis of jboyle1’s statement "My two flats had no tenants".

        Let’s clarify. During a void, the owner is responsible whether occupied or unoccupied for all ongoing bills water, gas, electricity, council tax, mortgage, service charge, maintenance, whatever.


        • #5
          My rental property is in the Northumbrian water region and before I had tenants in I spoke to N'brian Water to confirm the property was empty, hoping to not have to pay any water charges.

          Their clear answer was I had to make a choice: 1. they could turn off the water from their end - no further charge until it was turned back on or 2. I could keep the availability of water but I had to pay water charges, along with the standing sewage charge.


          • #6
            Appologies...thanks for clarifying and it looks like we are both correct.


            • #7
              Thread moved from "RESIDENTIAL LETTINGS" as that does not seem to be appropriate.


              • #8
                When I bought my conversion project property the water company billed me for 6 months water rates, an astonishing amount at c.£650 ie £1300 per year!!

                I had already asked for a meter to be fitted and was told I would have to wait about 6 weeks. As the house was unocuppied awaiting renovation and building works I declared it unoccupied and the account was closed. After the meter was fitted they then started billing me for the water used. 1st water bill for 3 months was all of £40 due to the infrequent visits whilst we waited for planning permission etc and the limited amount of water used - we did a bit of pressure washing slippery paths and steps for safety.

                Not been paying council tax either as it is unocupied. It will now need an 'inspection' to satisfy the council that it is still uninhabitable due to the building works.


                • #9
                  A few questions for jboyle1:
                  • Have you read a document published by Northumbrian Water entitled "Your Water Your Services 2009/2010"?
                  • Have you read page 4 subtitle "Do I pay water charges if my property is unoccupied"?
                  • Is your property furnished?
                  • Have you requested the water to be turned off?


                  • #10
                    I read the booklet you sent, thanks.

                    The property was unfurnished while being renovated.

                    I told Northumbrian Water that as a buider was in there my understanding was that water should be available for health and safety reasons.

                    However the workman said he used no water.

                    The property is a ground floor flat and does have a water meter but it is shared with the flat above.

                    Therfore any water usage was fom the first floor flat.


                    • #11

                      Extract of online booklet by NW:
                      "Charges for water and sewerage services remain due in full whilst
                      a property contains furnishings and fittings or when a property is unfurnished
                      and water is being used for any purpose including refurbishment.
                      If a property is unfurnished and you agree to the water supply being turned
                      off by Northumbrian Water then water and sewerage services charges are
                      not payable.
                      If the supply of water is turned off and the property is furnished it is considered
                      ready for occupation and therefore sewerage charges in respect of surface
                      water drainage and highway drainage continue to be payable.
                      This policy also applies to rented properties
                      that are unoccupied for a period of time
                      between lettings."
                      Wot is that wot is highlighted in red?
                      If roof water goes into soakaways, and not drains or sewers, should there be a discount?


                      • #12
                        Problem is that you did not inform them at the outset. I don’t know where the onus of proof lays in these circumstances. Do any members know?

                        I must say jboyle1 that your argument so far on the forum is weak.


                        • #13
                          The wife's mother died last Christmas. Glos council granted relief from rates for a year, but Severn Trent Water carried on charging. House was still furnished as her mother died after only giving a day's notice. Probate took a while. Other key benefactor lives in Spain, so slow going disposing of the chattels. Doesn't seem right to be charged for sewage etc IMO...


                          • #14
                            water company - demanding payment for tenants bill

                            I''ve been contacted by a water company demanding payment of an outstanding water bill which was the responsibility of the tenant. The company is MIL collections. They have given me 72 hours to pay. What is my position?


                            • #15
                              As far as I am aware, provided your AST makes your tenant liable for water payments and you notified the water company of this when your tenant moved in then you are not liable. The water company is trying to take the easy option which, I believe, they should not be doing.
                              I recently rented out a property to a tenant and got sick and tired of the appropriate water company telephoning me to ask to speak to my tenant who had not paid his water bill. Eventually, it transpired that my phone number was on their list of contact numbers for my tenant which they removed. However the water co. never attempted to get me to actually pay the bill.

                              Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.


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