I am currently having a problem with Southern Water who hold me liable for unpaid water bill which goes up to around £1000!! I lived in a student property owned by a private landlord and I was renting a room within the house, sharing kitchen and the rest with couple of other students. I paid rent monthly in cash directly to the landlord and, as covered in the tenancy agreement, the rent included all bills (water, electricity, gas, etc). I lived in the property for 10 months and the last time I saw the landlord my boyfriend let him borrow our copy of the tenancy agreement for him to make copy of. Then I moved out quickly and didn’t have a chance to get the copy back. I left the property in August 2013 and around February 2014 I suddenly got a letter from Southern Water that I owe them money for the water bill. Later on they even passed my details onto a debt recovering agency. I was shocked because I didn’t even know they opened account in my name for something I was not responsible to pay because all the bills were included in my rent payment. I didn’t even know where they got my details and how did they ascertain that I was the one responsible for the water bill. After couple of emails they told me that Power to Contact, a company working on their behalf (which I’ve never come into contact with before), had advised them that I was responsible for the water. They also said that as one of the beneficial occupiers of the property I would be responsible for the water unless it is stated otherwise in my tenancy agreement. I am now in a difficult situation because I don’t have the tenancy agreement on me anymore (HUGE mistake, I’m never giving any contract out of my hands again!!) and the landlord is not replying to my emails and his phone number isn’t working anymore. I’m out of the country as well at the moment so I’m pretty much running out of ideas how to stop this mess. I was not responsible for paying the water bill and I don’t know how they came to the conclusion that it was me, out of all the other 4 people living in the same property.
What is the current legal position on this? What can I do? How can they just assume responsibility on me without first investigating who’s really responsible or contacting the owner of the property?? I’ll appreciate any good advice on how further handle this.