Thousands of landlords could be hit with water charges for failing to let utility firm Welsh Water know of a tenancy change.
Landlords whose properties are served by Welsh Water must, by law, ensure the firm has details of new tenants, including full name, address, date of birth and the start date of the tenancy, within 21 days of the change. Failure to do this could see them liable for water and sewerage charges.
Welsh Water serves more than 1.4 million households and businesses across much of Wales, Herefordshire and parts of Deeside including an estimated 350,000 rental properties.
It said research on cases of ongoing non-payment revealed around 15% of these customers were no longer living at the property but remained registered for charges.
These inaccuracies make it difficult to recover its charges, and can also affect the credit rating of unsuspecting past tenants.
An expensive problem
Each year the equivalent of around £20 for every customer is spent pursuing customers who don’t pay their water and sewerage charges – money which the company said is needed to maintain services and keep bills lower.
Douglas Haig, RLA Vice-Chair and Director for Wales said: “The RLA strives to continue to raise awareness of private landlords’ legal duty to share their tenants’ details with Welsh Water.
“Guidance about how to comply is available on the RLA’s webpage to all landlords, as well as in the RLA’s Rent Smart Wales training course.
“We welcome Welsh Water’s willingness to work with both landlords who may not be aware of the requirements, as well as with tenants who struggle to keep up with their payments.
“Collaborative working is necessary to the success of any regulatory measure, and we are happy to work in partnership with Welsh Water to raise awareness.”
Julia Cherrett, Managing Director of Retail Services at Welsh Water, said: “It is really important that we have accurate and up to date information about who is responsible for paying our charges.
“Some landlords may not be aware of this important change in regulations, which can lead to months of charges falling to them, rather than the tenant.
“Unrecovered charges lead to a reduction in the amount of investment we are able to make as per our not-for-profit status.
“This is something we want to put right, we want to maximise our collections performance so we can invest more in supporting those who genuinely struggle to pay, and in improving our network.”
Welsh Water is now calling on landlords to register themselves and their properties with them.
Ideally they should also take advantage of the water industry’s online system, Landlord TAP to let them know of changes in tenancy details.
Alternatively they can be given through the Welsh Water website by clicking here.