Who is responsible for my tenants £400 water bill?

by Readers Question

11:09 AM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

Who is responsible for my tenants £400 water bill?

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Who is responsible for my tenants £400 water bill?

I recently visited my tenant with a congratulations card as they had recently had a new baby.

While I was there my tenant mentioned that the water pressure was very low from the bath tap and would my husband come round to have a look some time and that there was no rush (we manage our own properties). My husband went round 5 days later and the tenant is now saying there must be a leak somewhere as he has a water bill for £400.

My husband checked in the bathroom and there was water trickling into the toilet from the overflow system in the cistern. My husband asked the tenant if he had not heard this trickling and he said he had heard it in the night, but thought it was his son going to spend a penny!

The water has obviously been trickling like this for weeks or possibly months and this has resulted in the hefty water bill.

Who is responsible for paying the bill?

Any comments please.

Ashleytoilet



Comments

Mark Alexander

11:19 AM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

Hi Ashley

Easy one 🙂

It is without doubt the tenants responsibility to pay for the water bill, you have acted very professionally in my opinion.

As for the son, sounds like you tenants think he could pee for England!!! LOL. If they didn't notice the water running when they used the toilet and the son didn't either how can they possibly expect you to know about it. You MUST offer them peaceful enjoyment of the property, the only way you could have know about the problem would have been to check the property daily which is obviously ridiculous and would probably have resulted in a much more serious complaint of harassment if you had tried to do so.

Try to explain this rationally to them but if they continue to be awkward it may be time for you to suggest they start looking for alternative accommodation.
.

Adam Alexander

11:21 AM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

If you need any tips on finding better tenants next time around Ashley see our free guide, linked below. Feedback will be greatly appreciated 🙂
.

Vanessa Warwick

12:05 PM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

Having experienced a water leak and subsequent bill of £2K in my home, I feel I have some relevant experience of this situation.

First of all, I think it highly unlikely that a trickling toilet would result in a water bill of £400!

And I would strongly advise against hinting to the tenant that they should find new accommodation, as that would be deemed threatening and fall under a current high profile issue of "retaliaratory eviction" and could land you in hot water. (When tenants ask for repairs, rogue landlords just threaten them with eviction if they complain that repairs are not being done,).

As the problem was NOT reported until the water bill, you are not liable for said bill.

However, you must first get a plumber in to look for an internal water leak.

If one is not found, then you need to call the Water Board to check if there is a leak between the water pipe in the street, and the supply to the house. If they find one, they will fix it and most likely cancel the bill.

Hope that helps?

Mark Alexander

14:19 PM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Vanessa Warwick" at "18/10/2013 - 12:05":

Whoa, whoa, whoa there - this has nothing to do with retaliatory eviction. The landlord fixed the toilet within a reasonable time frame. There is no way a judge would hold a landlord responsible for a £400 water bill based on taking 5 days to adjust a WC cistern. In fact, the landlord didn't have to do that at all in my opinion. The fact the tenant didn't fix it himself could be contrued as "not acting in a tenant like manner" - ref Judge Denning back in 1953/4 in the Warren v Keen case.

The alternative approach to the friendly chat I suggested is to proceed immediately serve notice and/or seek a possession order if notice was previously served. My suggestion was, I believe, the friendlier option.
.

Vanessa Warwick

14:33 PM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

For clarification Mark, I meant that serving notice on the tenant because they had become "awkward" (to use your word) could be percieved as "retaliaratory eviction".

Sorry for any misunderstanding.

This matter can be easily sorted through the measures I mentioned above.

Mark Alexander

14:41 PM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Vanessa Warwick" at "18/10/2013 - 14:33":

Thanks for your clarification Vanessa and to expand on my use of the words "if they continue to be awkward" I meant in terms of arguing that it's the landlords responsibility to pay the bill, not for reporting faults as that is part and parcel of "acting in a tenant like manner".

I agree with your other suggestions 🙂
.

Mary Latham

19:28 PM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

If the tenant does not pay the bill and the landlord has no complied with Flood and Water Management Act 2010 here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/29/section/45 the landlord can be charged.

In a nutshell this act puts the onus on landlords to inform the water supplier of the name of the person responsible for payment withing 28 days of the start of the tenancy and if he fails to do this they can chase the landlord for payment.

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337

Alan Loughlin

19:30 PM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

it would have to be a very big leak over a very long time to run up a bill like that, more likely the reading was estimated for some time and just caught up.

David Sweeney

20:03 PM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "18/10/2013 - 14:41":

I am not as convinced as other posters that this is a clear no-liability for the landlord if the tenant took the matter to court.

The law is clear that it is the landlords responsibility to keep in repair (not repair - keep in repair) the water supply. The law doesn't state 'only if practical / convenient'. Therefore the landlord is in the wrong for not keeping the supply in repair. Would he get prosecuted for such a breach in the OPs case? Of course not, he acted as soon as he was notified of the leak in a responsible manner. But that does not deal with the water loss between the leak commencing and the landlord fixing it. It is a consequential loss caused by the landlords failure to keep the water supply in repair. Why is it fair for the tenant to bear that burden when the failing is the landlords?

It sounds to me that the tenant asked for the landlords assistance as promptly as the law would require - it sounds like the bill was the give-away - sure, it would have been nice if the tenant had heard the trickling and realised what it was, but would the landlord have foot the bill if the tenant were deaf?

Ashleigh

20:17 PM, 18th October 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "18/10/2013 - 11:19":

Thank you all very much for your comments. At this moment in time I do not have any intention of serving notice on these tenants. They are model tenants and are a pleasure to have. However, this is an unfortunate set of circumstances and I just needed some clarification on where we stand.
Referring to Mary's comment regarding informing the water supplier of the tenant, I always contact all utility suppliers and council tax with details of who is now responsible for paying the bills,etc.
Thanks again
Kind regards
Ashley

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