Water bill dispute | The Tenants' Voice
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Water bill dispute

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161 views 2 replies latest reply: 16 March 2017
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Tenant

Hi all,

We (2 people) moved out of an apartment in a block after three happy years there in February 2017. Our deposit of £750 is held by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

We’ve just heard from the former letting agent that the landlord is wanting to dispute a matter of the water bills, claiming that we “never paid them”.

At the start of the tenancy, we rang up the water company who said they simply billed the property management company. The property management company said they bill each owner of each apartment (NOT the tenant). We rang the letting agency and they said the landlord paid for the water. We were in fact unable to put our name to any water bill since the chain of contracts meant it was all in his name. The property management company said that the matter is always between the tenant and the landlord in that apartment block, usually they add a surcharge to the rent.

We then heard nothing over the three years from the landlord about this, until now, when our tenancy is over and he wants to make a claim against the deposit.

We have checked the contract and it says that the tenant is responsible for payment of utilities (gas, water, electric) and it’s our responsibility to contact the utility company. However, this is obviously a generic contract that has just been printed off, since it mentions nothing of the circumstances described above. We tried to comply with the contract but were unable to do so.

So we suspect that the landlord has paid the water bills all along and not said anything at all to us – now all of a sudden he’s wanting to claim money back.

Please could someone advise me where we stand on this? It’s a grey area as we believe he should have contacted us during the tenancy regarding the water bills. He never asked for money from us, we had no water bills, we weren’t aware of anything. What’s more, he never asked for any kind of surcharge in relation to the water.

We’re going to raise a dispute with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme if it’s not resolved within a week. We’re worried we won’t get our deposit back or, if we do, that he will take us to court and we don’t know if he stands a good chance of winning.

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Tenant

Hello J,

Do you not feel like you owe money for this bill ? You were interested in paying the water bills, so you talked to the water supplier, the property management company and the letting agent BUT NOT THE LANDLORD… Why ?

When you were told the landlord is responsible for the bill and it was up to you and them to negotiate how you contribute, didn’t you think it was a good idea to talk to your landlord ? It’s just so bizarre that you went to three related companies and never talked to the person directly responsible for this matter. 

It’s even written in your contact. You know it may be just a generic templated tenancy agreement, but the fact that you sign it means you agreed these specific terms for the duration of the fixed term. It may be generic, but with your signature, you took responsibility for the water costs.

Now when your tenancy ends the landlord is chasing you up on this responsibility. It’s also strange that they never once raised the issue for three years. However, I think they have a good legal position to require your payment. 

I think any dispute service, be it the TDS or the courts will side with your landlord on this one. 

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