Landlords will fight against unpaid water bills

November 26, 2009 at 10:28 am

Landlords are concerned that they are going to have to foot the bill for millions of pounds of unpaid water bills built up by their ex-tenants. The water industry has announced that it is planning to pass on £500 million in unpaid water bills in the near future, a move which is being bitterly opposed by the landlords.

The government recently released the Walker Review of Water Charging which set out the proposals. But the Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) and the British Property Federation (BPF) have both expressed strong opposition to the move. They have attacked the proposals as completely unfair and a problem for the water companies rather than the landlords.

£11 is currently added onto every water bill each year to make up for the millions owed in unpaid bills. Water companies cannot cut off the supply to households, unlike electricity and gas companies, meaning the problem of unpaid bills is usually greater than with other amenities.

The landlords’ associations propose reversing the law to have housing benefit paid directly to the landlords rather than the tenants, as used to be the case. They suggest that the bills should not be issued to the occupiers, and water companies should also make it easier for landlords to clarify when tenancies are starting and ending.

Landlords already have to deal with unpaid council tax bills from their tenants, and it seems that this is just one step too far.

The director of policy at BPF, Ian Fletcher, said of the new proposal that “we will fight it tooth and nail”. He said that “landlords are neither the consumers of the water being provided, nor the unpaid debt collectors for the nation’s water companies”.

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Leaks costing flat dwellers millions

November 20, 2009 at 4:39 am

Each year people living in flats are spending over £400 million on water damage caused by leaks. What’s worse is that the problem often lies with their neighbours having ignored what they thought was a minor problem.

Research carried out by HomeServe has revealed that a casual attitude towards fixing leaking pipes quickly and professionally causes misery and financial liability for hundreds of thousands of people each year.

The recession has meant that many of us are looking for ways of saving money and it is perhaps tempting to put off carrying out repairs which we feel are insignificant, such as a leaking pipe, washing machine or toilet.

Leaky loos affect a huge number of people, with a staggering hundred thousand of us putting up with the problem for more than a year, whilst over a million of us put up with leaking taps, despite our apparent desire to use water wisely.

Although we may feel that the problem is a minor one, water damage either to our own homes or adjoining flats can result in a huge bill. The average cost of repairing water damage is close to £2,000 with some facing bills of £25,000.

Apart from the more obvious damage, leaks can also compromise electrical safety in the home as well as cause damp problems and rot.

HomeServe provides a service for emergency home repairs, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and, unlike the majority of home insurance policies, will pay for the actual repair rather than just the damage.

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London to get new water fountains

November 5, 2009 at 1:39 pm

This month will see the installation of new water fountains in a number of locations across London. Thames Water, the biggest privatised water company in the UK, is the company behind the installations.

The installations are going to be on a trial basis at first, with the Hydrachills, as they are called, to be located at the bus station in Hammersmith and at Tower Bridge Museum. Between them these two areas see around 400,000 people pass through them each year, and so they will provide a good indication of how popular they could be. This follows on from the recent drinking fountain installed in Hyde Park which was the first in 30 years.

There will be a 20p charge to use the fountains, and this will be enough to fill up a 500 ml bottle with chilled water. All the proceeds from the trial will be donated to WasteWatch, which helps to encourage change in the way we use natural resources.

If successful, the trial could be extended to sites all across London, including railway stations, underground stations and bus stations, ready for the 2012 Olympics.

The move is being seen as a serious challenge to the £1.5 billion-a-year bottled water industry. Hildon has already hit back by launching a new marketing campaign promoting its superiority over tap water.

Bottled water has come in for much criticism because of its use of plastic and the fuel needed to transport it when compared to tap water. There is also a huge difference in price: litre for litre, tap water is a thousand times cheaper than bottled water.

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