Thursday, June 04, 2009

Landlords may become liable for tenants' water bills

According to a report in the Times today, the government is considering a report from Ofwat recommending that landlords should be made liable for water bills, if these are not paid by departing tenants,

The reason for this is the high level of unpaid bills suffered by water companies. They are often a low priority for payment as they are not allowed to disconnect. For example the Time reports that Northumbrian Water has increased its provision for bad debt from domestic users by £2 million to £30 million.

Recovery of unpaid bills is difficult. "Quite often by the time we have found out who the tenants are, they have gone," Mr Cuthbert, MD of Northumbrian Water said. "We are talking to the Government about what help they can give us here. One proposal would be to make the landlord liable."

However landlords should not panic immediately as the measure would require primary legislation. A draft report is expected to be published in the next few weeks with a final report later in the year.

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