A new law means that landlords could become jointly liable with their tenants for unpaid water bills. Until recently if a tenant defaulted on his or her utility bills it was of no concern to the landlord. The utility company was restricted to pursuing the tenant through the courts and the landlord was under no liability at all. The new law means that landlords who fail to notify the water supplier of the tenants’ details will be jointly liable with the tenant for unpaid water charges.
It is therefore very important for landlords to notify the water company of the tenants’ details at the start of the tenancy. At the end of the tenancy the water company should be provided with a forwarding address. Landlord insurance policy holder clients should note that if a tenant does not pay the water bill it is very likely that the supplier will take advantage of this new law because it will probably be far easier to pursue the landlord than the tenant. Therefore make sure that full details have been given and that you have a record of this. If you are using and agent he or she should do it for you if they are providing a full management service for you but you need to check your agreement with them to make sure that this is the case. The reason behind this new rule is that water companies are no longer allowed to cut off people who do not pay their bills.
If you operate a house in multiple occupation the procedure is different because the landlord normally pays the water bill and recoups it from the tenant. This new law about water charges is just one example of the way laws and procedures change and let property landlords need to keep up to date. Using a reputable and experienced agent can be a great help but there is no substitute for reading up in the subject. The web has a wide range of free resources to help landlords get to grips with their rights and obligations