Landlords could be left to foot the cost of water bill dodgers after new government legislation plans to crackdown on tenants – and a Manchester letting agents is urging owners to take care.
The Flood and Water Management Act 2012 will come into force on October 1 and could see landlords face penalties as soon as the keys are handed over.
Property-owners may be liable for unpaid bills by tenants and the managing director of letting agents Jordan’s is urging landlords to not get caught out.
William Jordan said: “Water customers who pay their bills have been subsidising customers who don’t.
“It’s understandable the government is taking action. Some companies are also exploring the idea of billing landlords if they did not provide tenants’ details in a reasonable time.”
A survey by regulator Ofwat suggested up to 80 percent of people in water debt live in rented properties.
In 1999, The Water Industry Act 1999 banned water suppliers from disconnecting supplies from consumers, even those failing to pay bills – leading to a growing problem of unpaid water bills.
“Landlords are now the subject of the crackdown – those who don’t recognise the importance of the legislation will pay the price,” Jordan added.
“Landlords need to realise they have a role to play when new tenants are signed up. Rightly or wrongly, the water companies won’t just be chasing the tenants to pay up, but the landlords too.”