Severn Trent Water Bill

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
3 replies 2.2K views
Jack606Jack606 Forumite
1 Post
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
Good evening all,

I hope everyone's well!

I'm seeking some advice. Apologies in advance if this isn't the correct place to be asking for it.

Back in August, we noticed that the toilet in the property we were renting at the time was leaking water from the cistern into the bowl. Actually, to be more specific, we heard that the toilet sounded like it was constantly flushing and trying [struggling] to refill itself repeatedly, over and over again.

We immediately contacted our letting agent to report the issue, who then arranged for a contractor to come out and investigate the problem a few days later.

I was present in the property to observe the contractor's work. In the process of carrying it out, he discovered that the equipment inside the cistern (which he was demonstrably vocal in commenting was "cheap and nasty") had utterly decayed, and completely compromised the tank's ability to retain water. (Even my plumbing lamen's eye could identify what a state it was in!)

He had to seek approval on a quote of GBP 100.00 to replace it all with something more suitable, and returned later that same day to finish the repair, which we were initially satisfied with.

However, almost immediately following the repair, we received a water bill from Severn Trent based on a reading of our meter for GBP 1,600.00.

Obviously we were very shocked, but we found our meter and corroborated their findings.

We provided our letting agent with a copy of Severn Trent's invoice, as well as our previous invoices from the period of our tenancy within the property to evidence our normal usage levels (which were average for what you'd expect), and posited that we believed the faulty toilet was to blame.

The contractor has since commented through our letting agent that the equipment inside the cistern was so degraded, that it most probably had been leaking in a more minor way for quite some time before it totally failed, and could easily have been responsible for racking up such a figure.

We have also since provided our letting agent with a copy of our final invoice from Severn Trent for the period immediately after the repair was finished up to the end of our tenancy within the property (the end of October), which demonstrates how our usage level returned to the previous average norm.

We affirmed to our letting agent that we had not damaged or otherwise interfered with the toilet since we commenced our tenancy within the property, so, as the landlord and the person responsible for [the quality of] the fixtures and fittings within the property, she was, unfortunately, responsible for settling this bill on our behalf. (The quality of the equipment inside the cistern was obviously not something we could verify when we carried out our inventory check when we moved in!)

We acted in good faith/conscience and believe we discharged our duty as responsible tenants by reporting the issue as soon as we became aware of it. Unfortunately, we didn't spend a great deal of time [consistently] within the property due to working long hours and being away a lot, and, as you can imagine, even less in the bathroom. A more minor leak of water into the bowl, even a persistent one, just isn't a problem that we would've noticed.

The landlord has denied any responsibility for the bill (and in so doing, indirectly, for the quality of the equipment inside the cistern). By extension, we believe she must've deduced the spike in our 'usage' during the period around the leak to be nothing more than sheer coincidence!

Severn Trent provided us with a signed letter giving their calculation of what they would've expected our usage for the billing period in question to have been, based on our average norms. We initially offered to just pay this sum to try to settle the matter, but as the leak took place within the property, they said that they were unable to waive the charges, or reduce them through a leakage adjustment claim.

So we then offered to contribute this figure towards the GBP 1,600.00 bill for our landlord, who, once again, denied any responsibility for it, and refused to pay anything.

My question is thus two-fold:

1. Is there anything further we can do/try with Severn Trent to waive or reduce this excessive bill that we simply cannot afford for water that we didn't even use?!

2. Failing that, based on the evidence we have, do we have any legal recourse to pursue our landlord to recover the amount from her through a solicitor?

Many thanks in advance to anyone who's able to offer any sound advice on this stressful situation. We've managed to remain professional/amicable throughout all of our correspondence with our letting agent and Severn Trent, but we're really starting to feel like we're stuck between a rock and a hard place at the moment!

Kind regards and warm wishes,

Jack

Replies

  • CardewCardew Forumite
    28.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Rampant Recycler
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    Welcome to the forum.


    I am a little surprised that Severn Trent(ST) didn't make some gesture by way of a one-off goodwill payment.


    It might be worth contacting the Consumer Council for Water(a phone call or email will suffice) to see if they can put some pressure on ST


    http://www.ccwater.org.uk/adviceandcomplaints/


    They might also be able to give advice on the liability for the leak - and if an insurance claim might succeed.


    The downside from your perspective, is your failure to address the problem quickly. £1,600 at ST's current water/sewerage charges equates to 678 cubic metres(678,000 litres)
  • Help me out:

    Did you notice the toilet leaking, do nothing for abit, then call to landlord?

    I can't understand why a short period of time would amount to £1600.

    If it helps - in future, isolate the toilet if this is happening. There ought to be a valve on the pipe that is feeding the toilet it's water. If you switch that so it's off, the toilet won't try to refill itself.

    In regards to severn trent, they were quite good with me when they cut me off because they thought the old owner was still in the house, not paying his bills. I would pursue the landlord, seeing as: you wouldn't be allowed to do any work on the house, as you'd breach your tenancy rules - therefore it's his/her responsibility to fix things that break and their associated costs.
  • macmanmacman Forumite
    48.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
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    But the LL relies on the tenant to report faults in a timely manner, such as a WC constantly running to waste, which is perfectly visible, and probably audible too.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
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