How to handle transfer of bills (question of morale)

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  • How to handle transfer of bills (question of morale)

    Hi all,

    Me tennants have just left my property and are no longer contactable (left the country). they were very good and paid the water bill upto March 2012.

    However, i'm going to have new tennants coming in very soon and i need to change the bills to their names.

    question is what do i do about this water bill? Shall i let the new tennants reap the rewards of previous tennants and pay nothing until March, or shall i claim the money back myself and use it towards some refurb that i've done? or is that morally wrong?!

  • #2
    Originally posted by rtid View Post
    Shall i let the new tennants reap the rewards of previous tennants and pay nothing until March, or shall i claim the money back myself and use it towards some refurb that i've done? or is that morally wrong?!
    I doubt there's any mechanism whereby you can personally get your hands on the cash. It belongs to the departed tenants, who should of course have contacted the water co to notify them of their departure, at which point they'd have been given a refund. In fact, if they'd been paying by direct debit, then if you contact the water co yourself now and tell them, then they'll simply re-imburse the money paid to the original bank account, where likely your ex-tenant can and will still access it.

    As soon as you change the name on the water account, whether it's to your own name or that of the new tenants, then the water bill becomes payable by the new account holder, regardless of whether the account was in credit from the previous occupier - even if they can't be traced, it doesn't mean that the overpayment will be credited to the next occupier's account.

    Therefore the only way of using this situation to the advantage of the current tenants (not you) is to tell them not to contact the water co until March, and leave it in the previous tenant's names. But that doesn't help you; on the contrary it leaves things potentially messy and you vulnerable - eg what happens when original tenant finally asks the water co for their refund? I always personally provide the name of the current tenant and meter reading to all utility cos etc, so there's no possible comeback on me later.

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    • #3
      ALWAYS.. (well, I do anyway..) email then snailmail, keep copies of both, the relevant authorities (electric, gas, water, council tax..) with dates of changes and meter readings, if appropriate.. That way if there is a dispute later you've got that evidence -


      Your ex-tenants may of course have been in contact with water company & got their overpayment refunded to some other address...

      You've obviously registered with electric, gas, water, council tax in your name anyway for the period since last tenants left????

      PS Did you mean "Morale" (yours? new tenants??) or morality ?? re. Morality the decent British thing is surely to do the right thing??
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

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