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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