Landlord/Septic Tank

Hello
First Post! Looking for some advice regarding whether a landlord is obliged to advise a tenant that the property to rent/lease has a septic tank. Asking because my Dad took a lease, was never told about tank (no mention of it in lease) and has been paying sewerage charges to the utility company for years. Landlord of course fully aware of tank. Doesn't seem very fair, especially as tank was located on adjoining property and he (Dad) had no idea.
If anybody can put me right on landlord's obligations in this matter (if any) I'd be grateful.

Comments

  • D_M_E
    D_M_E Posts: 3,008
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    Don't know about landlord but I would think he needs to complain to the water company and explain that property is connected to septic tank and not mains sewerage and therefore ask for the return of all sewerage charges levied.
  • Hi DME Thanks for the reply. That's exactly what I thought. Believe it or not utility under Ombudsman ruling are only obliged to repay up to 12 months of wrongly billed charges. This has been going on for years, he has paid nearly £13000 in sewerage charges in that time which is why I am trying to establish if the landlord has any responsibility. Natural justice suggests they surely should.
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    bassett1 wrote: »
    Believe it or not utility under Ombudsman ruling are only obliged to repay up to 12 months of wrongly billed charges.


    That was the case(up to 12 months) and applied mainly to customers wrongly paying for Surface Water Drainage(SWD) charges. However the ruling has recently changed in the Ofwat publications and where a water company 'should have known' that SWD charges were not appropriate they pay back up to 6 years.



    The question is 'should the water company have known the property was not on mains drainage.'


    I would pursue the matter with the water company and take it to the Small Claims Court.


    Personally I don't think you will get anywhere with the Landlord. He hasn't gained from the situation and was probably incorrectly paying sewerage charges himself. That said normally a landlord should pay to have the septic tank emptied.
  • D_M_E
    D_M_E Posts: 3,008
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    SWD charges are not the same as sewerage charges.

    Agree with Cardew he needs to fight this and go to court to recover the overpayment as they would/should have known from the outset the charges were not applicable.

    £13000 is a lot - no wonder they don't want to refund.
  • Thank you Cardew & DME.
    I was given the 12 month max reclaim figure by an adviser at the Consumer Council for Water. Will ring back and check, maybe she mis-understood the query.
    Have been through official complaint with Water Co over weeks and made zero progress.
    To add some detail Dad's house is beside a farm. Two years ago (we now know) the septic tank was changed to a pumping station (farm became a camp site). We know the Landlord (same right through tenancy) knew because Dad was registered for Fair Rent and Landlord claimed the Septic Tank maintenance on the Fair Rent Forms which is how it came to light.
    So Landlord was claiming relief from Fair Rent for servicing septic tank whilst Dad was also paying sewerage charges to Water Co.
    Seems ridiculously unfair and Dad is the only loser, a pensioner struggling to make ends meet.
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    Is your Dad metered for water, or paying charges based on the Rateable Value(RV)? How is the £13,000 figure for sewerage reached? - over how long? Does that include Surface Water Drainage as well as mains drainage?



    I would be 99% certain that the Ofwat lady was talking about the Surface Water Drainage(SWD) issue, However, as said earlier, that original 12 month rebate guidance to water companieshas been changed. If you search back many years for SWD on this section of the MSE forum you will see the original guidance. Essentially it was because any rebates for several years overpayment would be paid for by a levy on all other customers, some of whom were not customers several years ago.

    Also the essential difference between your father's issue and SWD is that for SWD the onus was on the customer to claim relief from SWD charges; the default position is the customer pays SWD.


    Regardlessof Ofwat's guidance, it doesn't change the Law. If your father has been incorrectly charged then he can seek repayment for 6 years. Just fill out Small Claims forms for the whole overpayment(not just 6 years) It costs very little, you don't need a lawyer - you can represent him, and even if you lose you don't pay the water company's fees.



    I would be really surprised if the Water Company don't settle out of court, albeit probably only for 6 years.
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