Utility bills is a common bone of contention between a landlord and tenant. Landlords worry about unpaid bills and that they might end up having paying them.
If under the terms of the tenancy the tenants is responsible for paying the bills and the landlord or agent informed the utilities of the change when the tenancy commenced, then there should be no problem. Even if the tenant vacates without paying the utility bills, it is a matter between the tenant and the utility company.
Having said that some landlords have found a small number of utility companies can be aggressive and in some cases wrongly threaten legal action against the landlord.
If a tenant is not sure if they are responsible for the water bill as part of their rent, they should check the tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement should clearly state who is responsible for paying the water bill.
Tenants also have the right to ask for a meter if their tenancy agreement is for six months or longer.
If your tenancy agreement is less than six months, you must ask the landlord’s permission.
Some landlords do not want tenants to change the utility meters, especially if say the fixed term tenancy is less than 12 months. When it comes to water, the Water Industry Act 1999 s11 stipulates landlords cannot stop a tenant who pays their own water bill from choosing a meter should they wish.
When it comes to paying the water bill, a tenant may either have a water bill in their own name or pay for water as part of their rent.
If a landlord fails to pay the water bill, the water utility company cannot disconnect the supply, but they can take legal action against the landlord.
You may wish to add others in your household as additional account holders – we need their permission to do this.
My landlord has failed to pay the water bill what can I do?
If the tenancy states the landlord is responsible for paying the water bill, then the water company cannot disconnect the water supply.
My tenant has not paid the water bill, what can I do?
If the tenancy stipulates the tenant is responsible for paying the water bill, then the matter is between the tenant and the water utility company. However, as a landlord, you must inform the water utility you are not in occupation and no longer liable for the water bill.
Author: Simon Hampton
Source: British Landlords Association
Date: 23rd of September 2020
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