Who is responsible for my tenants £400 water bill?

by Readers Question

11:09 AM, 18th October 2013
About 8 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

Paul Shears

20:33 PM, 18th October 2013
About 8 years ago

I was doing a major property renovation prior to letting.
I had a water leak just inside my boundary under the drive. There was no sign of any wet area. I had high water pressure. A water meter was subsequently fitted whilst the house was empty and the engineer failed to notice that it was running.
I also failed to notice that it was running.
The water board did not send me a bill for over 18 months.
The bill was for £1500.
On my request they came out and due to faulty diagnostic equipment two men, plus a foreman, and an emergency plumber took 8 Hrs to find the fault. I lent them a hammer drill to get part of the drive up and they fixed the leak.
The emergency plumber was called out because they destroyed the electric shower when full mains pressure hit it too suddenly. The plumber said he could not fix the shower. I let that one go & bought a new shower.
I was grateful that the leak was being fixed for free.
The water board pursued me for the £1500. I stated that I would pay the bill if it reflected the expected water consumption of a single occupant.
They could not accommodate this as it required judgement rather than process.
The debate dragged on for several months eventually culminating with the water board stating that they were about to take me to court.
I told them that the next communication that I wanted from them was a court summons and we would let a judge sort it out.
They cancelled the whole bill!
Ho Hum.....

Paul Maguire

11:35 AM, 19th October 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Shears" at "18/10/2013 - 20:33":

My Tenancy Agreements state that I am responsible for maintaining "basins, sinks, baths, toilets, flushing systems etc, etc" so I would think both Landlord and tenant are responsible for the increased water bill. Landlord as he's responsible for the maintenance and tenant due to failure to notify the fault timeously.
What about splitting the bill 50/50 ?

Mark Alexander

12:32 PM, 19th October 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Maguire" at "19/10/2013 - 11:35":

Given the circumstances (Ashley saying he has a model tenant) I would probably consider negotiating something on that basis too. However, I would offer to split the proportion of the bill exceeding the normal bills 50/50.
.

Joe Bloggs

11:55 AM, 20th October 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dave Reaney" at "18/10/2013 - 20:03":

im sure there is plenty of caselaw which holds that a landlord is not responsible for a repair until he has been notified, and then a reasonable period of time is allowed before the repair must be completed. the only exception is if the disrepair is in common parts or externally.

Mark Alexander

12:06 PM, 20th October 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "20/10/2013 - 11:55":

I agree, and whilst I understand the legal argument being put forward by Dave Reaney I would be very surprised if a case has ever been brought to Court by a tenant on that basis and won by the tenant.
.

John Daley

18:06 PM, 21st October 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ashley Fett" at "18/10/2013 - 20:17":

Hi Ashley,

A £400 water bill is a fairly surprising amount of water, over 300 000 litres.

I'd rather think the toilet is not the culprit here. If the loss is downstream of the meter, as it appears to be, it's the landlords responsibility to maintain. Therefore the tenant can argue that the costs arise as a result of the want of repair.

It's time to have the supply pipe checked properly by someone who knows what they are up to. As an interim, get the tenant to turn off the stopcock for half a day, take a water meter reading at beginning and end of the time and you'll know if there is a loss.

I might be inclined to estimate what the bill should be based on the family size and offer to meet the rest of the cost. If you like the tenant its a gesture of goodwill and will only cost you a couple of hundred pounds.

I do think Mark's response is disappointing, if you serve notice on every tenant who asks for a response to a repair problem, you are not my idea of a competant landlord. And if you serve notice I guarantee the tenant will walk away with this bill unpaid.

Mark Alexander

18:16 PM, 21st October 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Daley" at "21/10/2013 - 18:06":

John

My comment was not too dissimilar from yours, scroll up 4 comments.

I said "Given the circumstances (Ashley saying he has a model tenant) I would probably consider negotiating something on that basis too. However, I would offer to split the proportion of the bill exceeding the normal bills 50/50."

Your other suggestions are good ones, i.e. turn off the supply and see if the meter still runs.
.

Joe Bloggs

18:45 PM, 21st October 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Daley" at "21/10/2013 - 18:06":

'If the loss is downstream of the meter, as it appears to be,'
NB - meters obviously DONT record water flow downstream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Daley

12:38 PM, 22nd October 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "21/10/2013 - 18:45":

The meter, obviously, records water flow through the body of the meter , if the leak is after the meter in the system it is downstream. I'm inclined to believe everyone else understood what I meant.

Is that really the most rational and constructive contribution you can manage ?

Joe Bloggs

14:14 PM, 22nd October 2013
About 8 years ago

why then 'get the tenant to turn off the stopcock for half a day'?

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