Boyfriend didn't sign up for water, am I liable?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
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iamtitaniumiamtitanium Forumite
2 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
I'm looking for some advice on a subject that's really driving me round the bend at the moment!

Basically, I moved in with my boyfriend 2 years ago, he cleared it with the landlord and they didn't put my name on the tenancy to save hassle. All the utilities etc are in my boyfriend's name, and I pay him my share towards them.

A few months ago I found out that he forgot to sign up for water when he moved in (1 year before I moved in) so 3 years ago now. I panicked, and am now completely expecting the water company to start chasing him. If they do, which I think is inevitable (although a little strange that it's been 3 years with not a word) there's going to be a very hefty bill, and possibly a court order.

The main thing that's worrying me, is I'm self employed and work from home, so my business is registered at this flat. A friend has told me that if they start chasing him for money and he can't pay it, then my business could be blacklisted and declared bankrupt to try and recover the costs of the bill. Plus it would seriously affect my credit rating etc, even though it's entirely at the fault of my boyfriend and not me. Is this true?

My boyfriend says that because the water company haven't chased him then they probably never will and he wants to just leave it as it is. He says that there's also a possibility that because our flat is a basement under a main house, that the water is probably registered to just the main property and not registered with the water under two separate properties. What could the likelihood of this be?

I'm completely at the end of my tether, and have no idea what to do, or how worried I should be. I have constant, horrific anxiety about it, to the point where I'm making myself ill. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Replies

  • macmanmacman Forumite
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    He is liable for year one, and you are jointly and severally liable as occupiers for years 2 and 3.
    Surely your landlord knows what the billing arrangements are for each of his properties? Normally the supply would have been split when the conversion was done, and both properties metered.
    Your b/f's debts have nothing to do with your business. And nor do yours if it's a limited company. It's your personal credit records that are at risk.
    If it's making you ill, then you need to sort it out and register for an account, unless you want the bill to get bigger.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • edited 21 April 2013 at 8:58AM
    Kayalana99Kayalana99 Forumite
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    edited 21 April 2013 at 8:58AM
    Shes not liable at all. Shes not on the rental agreement so rent bills have nothing to do with her...nothing is in her name. Even if rent didn't get paid she wouldn't be liable.

    As for the business being registered thier I wouldn't have a clue to be honest but it doesnt sound feasible that would happen as the bill has nothing to do with you.

    I think your boyfriend has hit nail on the head about your flat being in the basement, my parents 20 years ago lived in a 5 bed house for about 7 years and never paid a gas bill (was gas heated)

    They never said anything and to this day, no one has ever chased them for it.
    People don't know what they want until you show them.
  • edited 21 April 2013 at 10:37AM
    CardewCardew Forumite
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    edited 21 April 2013 at 10:37AM
    Kayalana99 wrote: »
    Shes not liable at all. Shes not on the rental agreement so rent bills have nothing to do with her...nothing is in her name. Even if rent didn't get paid she wouldn't be liable.

    .

    I don't think you are correct on this matter; and the OP is concerned about the Water bill - not the rent.

    As boyfriend has not registered as the customer for the water account, it is well established that those who use the water are jointly and severally liable for the bill. There have been loads of cases - particularly in student houses - where this has been applied.

    If the Water company catch on, and the bill is not paid, the debt will be passed to a Debt Collection Agency(DCA) who will chase whoever they can for the money. If the OP is in their sights, then it will be her credit record that could be threatened.

    Of course if the flat is not separately metered(i.e. Rateable Value charges are paid)it may well be that the Landlord has not notified the water company there is a basement flat and just the one account for the whole building is raised.

    Also as you say, it is possible that you might get away with not paying even if there is a separate account for the basement flat. Although there have been plenty of reports on this section of MSE of people being chased for money years after they have moved out.

    Lastly the landlord might be made aware that under new legislation they could be made jointly and severally liable for the water bill if he fails to notify the Water company that tenants are in his/her property.

    http://www.thelettingpartnership.co.uk/news/new_law_on_water_billing/

    http://www.ccwater.org.uk/upload/pdf/CCWater_Tackling_Bad_Debt.pdf
  • Sounds very much like the water isn't separated between basement and main house. Not an uncommon thing for rentals.

    Also, have you checked that the LL isn't paying the water bill? I've lived in a rental where the LL paid water (was HMO) and the rest of the bills were split.
    Save £200 a month : [STRIKE]Oct[/STRIKE] Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr
  • Kayalana99Kayalana99 Forumite
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    Well if its worrying you that much why don't you start putting some money aside now and then if they do start chasing either one of you then you can pay it off.

    That way if they never come after you...assuming you move one day you can have a nice hoilday or whatever.

    If they do then you have some money to give them and they would probally let you make payments anyway.

    I wouldn't worry about your business being black listed as long as when/if they do make contact you guys make an effort to pay the bill.....they won't take you straight to court or start charges against you unless you don't pay.

    Sounds like even *if* you wanted to noticfy the water bill you'd be looking at a £500-£750 bill to start off with and if you can't afford to pay it now might even be easier to save before you tell them.
    People don't know what they want until you show them.
  • Thank you so much for your replies everyone, I really appreciate it!
    I think saving up and putting some money aside as a 'just in case' is a good idea.

    I had a hunt around outside last night where all the gas and electric meters are, and could only find one meter that's for water so I'm pretty sure it didn't get split when the property did. Which means there's only one account for both buildings, and the noisy neighbours upstairs must be paying for our water!

    I don't really have any contact or relationship with the landlord, so I may see if I can get my boyfriend to ask him and find out. I don't like the thought of someone else paying our part of the bill!
  • macmanmacman Forumite
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    Water meters are normally fitted underground beneath a pavement hatch, not at surface level.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • mcc100mcc100 Forumite
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    macman wrote: »
    Water meters are normally fitted underground beneath a pavement hatch, not at surface level.

    An internal meter would be above surface level.
  • macmanmacman Forumite
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    mcc100 wrote: »
    An internal meter would be above surface level.

    Obviously-but there is apparently no trace of an internal meter.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • mart.vadermart.vader Forumite
    714 Posts
    mcc100 wrote: »
    An internal meter would be above surface level.

    Unless it's in the cellar !

    iamtitanium. OK, You found a meter - there will be a stop-tap controlling it, probably in the same pit. Turn it off. If the water at your kitchen tap stops running, then it's your meter.

    If this valve also stops your neighbours water, then it also feeds your neighbour.
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