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RLA warns Landlords – ‘Don’t become liable for your tenants’ water debt’ !

RLA
Written by RLA

The RLA has issued guidance ahead of the implementation of the Welsh Government’s new regulations under the Water Industry Act that could mean that landlords become jointly liable for their tenants water debt from the 01st January 2015 if they do not share their tenants information with their water company…

The RLA has issued guidance ahead of the implementation of the Welsh Government’s new regulations under the Water Industry Act that could mean that landlords become jointly liable for their tenants’ water debt from the 1st January 2015 if they do not share their tenants information with their water company.

From 1st January 2015 there will be an obligation on all landlords with properties in the Welsh Water and Dee Valley Water areas to share certain information about their tenants with their water company. The majority of properties affected are in Wales, but these Water Authority areas also cover parts of Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Gloucestershire.  If you fall under the Welsh Water or Dee Valley Water areas, and you do not notify the relevant company of your tenants details you will become jointly-liable for the occupants’ water debt. Please note these obligations DO NOT include the Severn Trent authority areas.

You will be under obligation to notify the relevant company of the,

  • full name
  • date of birth (if you hold it)
  • the date the occupancy began for each of the occupants within the property (as well as obviously the property address).

For existing occupants, you will have to do this by the 21st January 2015 , and for new occupants within 21 days of them moving in or their tenancy or contractual arrangement beginning (whichever is sooner).

We recommend that you do this via the designated Landlordtap (www.landlordtap.com).  Once you have registered you will be able to follow the on-screen instructions to enable you to provide the relevant information to the Water Authority.  The portal will automatically work out by post code which water authority to send the information to if you are unsure. We believe that ‘landlord Tap’ will be live from 22nd December 2014 but we will notify you once we receive confirmation that the portal is ‘live’.

For more details please read the full guidance on the RLA  website (https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/liability-for-water-payments.shtml )   .  You can find who your water provider is here.( http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/consumerissues/watercompanies/map/ )

TO AVOID BECOMING JOINTLY-LIABLE FOR YOUR EXISTING TENANT’S WATER DEBTS ENSURE THAT YOU ACT by 21ST JANUARY 2015 AT THE LATEST! 

OR

FOR NEW TENANTS REGISTER THEIR DETAILS WITHIN 21 DAYS OF THE DATE THEY ARE ENTITLED TO MOVE INTO THE PROPERTY.

 

About the author

RLA

RLA

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) represents the interests of landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) across England and Wales. With over 23,000 subscribing members, and an additional 16,000 registered guests who engage regularly with the association, we are the leading voice of private landlords. Combined, they manage almost half a million properties.

9 Comments

  • I would expect that tenants would have to agree to their landlord disclosing their details so there must be data protection issues here. I know I would be unhappy if I had a landlord who passed my details on to anyone without my consent.

    Ad what if tenants refuse consent to allow their details to be disclosed/passed on?

    • Hi Paul,

      Absolutely a landlord has to get permission to be able to distribute information! However, this can be embedded within tenancy agreements.

      The RLA recommends, that even if you have it in your tenancy agreements, that you ask tenants in writing for permission to share their details. This is the most transparent and straightforward way to track these kinds of agreement.

      If a tenant refuses permission the landlord should contact the water company and request advice. This should mean that the landlord will not be liable for any bills accrued, but they must prove that they have tried to get information.

      You can find more details here: http://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/liability-for-water-payments.shtml

      Thanks for your comment.
      RLA Campaigns

  • If I understand the data protection rules correctly this only applies if the data is held electronically, if you have a boxfile for each property and copy the info from there no rules are broken.

  • just means the landlord will have to add water to the rent and thus becomes the unpaid collection agent for the large corporation…..genius.

  • Hi Alan,
    I do believe that these days the Data Protection Act also covers all forms of records keeping, including paper records.
    So if landlords are to become jointly liable;
    Who’s name is on the records,
    Will landlords be informed of payments made/missing information,
    I hope this still means that the water authorities still require and only require the landlords permission for any billing changes, (once a water meter is installed it will not be removed)
    Probably not on topic but what does happen if a water meter is installed without the landlord/owners permission?

  • What is the definition of an occupant? Children are occupants. So too is a grandmother who stays for a few months whilst recuperating. The web-site’s guidance is far from clear and would impose a huge administrative “big-brother” burden on landlords and for what purpose? The tenant’s name is perfectly sensible to share with an authority that has a right to collect payments as it is the landlord’s property and legal obligation to pay for services. The landlord is passing the duty of payment to the tenant with the agreement both sign. Those names are the only ones that should be required by any other authority.

  • I assume that this will work both ways and if a Tenant does a runner without paying the rent then the landlord can apply to welsh water to get the tenants new address so he can pursue them for his rent,

    • Hello Kevin,

      Great comment, unfortunately, I will have to say: No! We on the RLA Campaigns do not foresee this sort of thing being acceptable.
      This is based on issues of data protection, and it is likely that rent arrears would exceed water debt.
      However, we will explore your comment.

      In the meantime, we suggest you speak to Welsh Water for more information, sure to be an interesting conversation.

      Thank you again for your comment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you find anything or want a more in-depth conversation.

  • Can you advise re the suggestion of Dianne Abbott MP that private sector rents should be reduced 50%.
    I suggest RLA questions Ms Abbott on her suggestions as she obviously knows nothing about the costs landlords have in repairs, missing items & major cleaning that arise due to tenants failing to observe their AST and walking off with their landlords fixtures & fittings at end of tenancies..

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