letting agent should have paid water bills

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
9 replies 1.6K views
paddyw_2paddyw_2 Forumite
27 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
hi - not sure which section this shoukl be in so please bear with me. My friend has been renting a property since 2011. Initially it was with a letting agent. About a year ago, the landlord began to manage his properties himself.
When it was with the agent, the monthly payment to them was rent and water rates included. Since the landlord took over my friend has paid the same amount assuming the waterrates to be included.
When United Utilies had the 'crypto' problem earlier this year, my friend asked the landlord if she would be able to have the compensation cheque (£55) as she had been having to buy bottled water . He then said that he didnt know anything about the water bills and assumed that she had been paying the bills. He has then obviuosly contacted United Utiliites as they were round with a few days to ascertain who lived there and how long she had been there.
So far, she had received a bill for 2015/16. She is anticpating that she will be asked to pay the bills from 2011. She doesnt have a copy of her tenancy agreement from the previous letting agent. They have now been taken over earlier this year by another company. She has asked if they still have a copy but they say they dont have one.
This is very worrying - to pay the 2015/16 will have to be in four installments to be paid by april and she just doesnt know how she is going to pay it - she has had a drastic change in circunstances lately then this landed on her doormat!
So my questions are
1 - the current bill of £337 is a hefty bill and the installments she was offered are not affordable for her. She is a single parent and has recently lost her job - is there any option you know of where she could pay this over a longer time than proposed (which is between now and april)
2 - if they ask for the payments from when she moved in, how can we prove that the agent was supposed to be paying it? If she cant prove it, who is liable - her or the landlord?


  • HappyMJHappyMJ Forumite
    21.1K Posts
    She can pay in weekly instalments if she wishes. Ask for a payment card. You might need to be a bit persuasive to get it but they will accept.
    :p Regular savers earn 6% interest (HSBC, First Direct, M&S) :p Loans cost 2.9% per year (Nationwide) = FREE money. :p
  • matelodavematelodave Forumite
    6.9K Posts
    Ninth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Why don't people keep copies of their bills and agreements? It would save so much hassle if they took some personal responsibility rather than hoping someone else is looking after them.
    Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers
  • Thanks for your helpful comment :beer:
  • CardewCardew Forumite
    28.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Rampant Recycler
    It is not normal for rent to include water charges. Thus, to answer your last question first, the tenant is liable unless she can produce evidence that water charges were included in the monthly rental.

    The original letting agent should have retained a copy of the agreement for tax purposes etc. If she makes a flat statement to UU that an element of her monthly payment to the letting agent included water charges it might induce them to find the agreement to refute her statement.

    I suggest she phones the Consumer Council for Water http://www.ccwater.org.uk/ and asks for their assistance - they are really helpful. Assuming she loses the liability issue, they might negotiate payments on her behalf and can sometimes persuade water companies to waive at least some of the charges. I believe there are also charities who can help in such circumstances.
  • Great advice on this thread!

    I'll just add that benefit claimants with a qualifying debt can ask for deductions to be made for arrears and current usage under the DWP's Third Party Deductions scheme. This would be £3.70 P.W. for arrears plus current usage.
  • Thanks - it seems that the agent doesnt have a copy as when they took over the business all documents were handed back to the landlord. There is not a cat in hell's chance that he will have a copy.

    On the Third Party Deductions Scheme - do Tax Credits operate that scheme?

    Many thanks
  • Will have a look for you.
  • The TPD scheme is administered by the DWP. The qualifying benefits are as follows:

    Income support
    Pension credit
    Employment Support Allowance
    Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance
    Universal Credit
  • Thanks for your help guys
This discussion has been closed.
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