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Yorkshire Water Default - name was added to bil by Wescots!! **WON**


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In 2011-12 I was in a house share with a girl who turned out to be incredibly bad at paying bills and

I've since found out has bailiffs chasing her for a substantial amount of debt.

 

I had the electric and gas bill with NPower in my name and she was supposed to have the water bill with Yorkshire Water in her's.

My DD to NPower was always paid on time, but we had a lump sum to pay at the end of the tenancy as we'd been under paying.

I paid my half off and she set up a payment plan for her remainder of the bill.

 

A few months passed and I received a letter from a DCA, not surprisingly the ex-housemate had made a one off payment for £5 then did a runner, leaving me to settle the rest.

I checked my Equifax report and couldn't see a default, but there were a few tracking searches from a couple of DCAs .

 

I've just received a letter from Westcott demanding payment of £150 for the water bill.

I challenged this, as I didn't consent to my name being on the bill, but it seems she must have given my details

and had me added and then intercepted the unpaid water bills so I didn't see she hadn't been paying.

 

They stated my name was on the bill and they don't get involved in third party disputes.

 

It does seem odd that Yorkshire Water would do this as I've been told in the past by utilities companies that they can't add another party to a bill

without speaking to them or having a signed letter.

 

We were on a joint tenancy, so I'm guessing I have no recourse to have my name removed from the bill and have Westcott chase her for the debt?

 

I will pay the bill off in full if this is the case,

but I'm concerned about the affect this might have on my credit score.

I was planning on applying for a first mortgage next year

but fear I may get defaults from Yorkshire Water and NPower because these accounts were in collections

through ex housemate not paying/hiding correspondence.

 

Is it correct that defaults can only be placed 6 months after the first missed payment?

Is there anything I can do to appeal if they decide to issue a default given the circumstances.

 

Otherwise my credit record is pretty good,

 

I've always paid bills on time and don't have any other outstanding debts.

 

I realise all mortgage lenders look at different criteria, but is it generally really damaging to have tracking searches showing?

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Hi Welcome to CAG.

 

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) states in its Technical Guidance on Defaults that a default should normally be placed within 6 months of the cause of action (in this case cessation of arranged payments).

 

Any default will have a serious effect on any mortgage application as you say..

 

Trace searches (used to called table 2 searches) are not visible to potential lenders, Debt Collection or Outstanding Debt searches are visible and will affect a credit application.

 

The only way to attempt to get this default removed, (Wescot are always totally unhelpful in this situation) is to make a formal complaint to the water company directly.

 

State clearly that you at no time agreed formally or otherwise to be liable for this utility service.

 

Also so state that this person has fraudulently added your name to the account with out your knowledge.

 

In this case the water company should take back this debt and pursue your flat mate.

 

As for Wescot, write to their compliance manager and state that you do not acknowledge any debt to the WC or Wescot as the account was fraudulently changed, and that no payment will be forth coming.

 

Tell Wescot that you are in contact with the water company and you cannot deal with Wescot.

 

BTW even if you pay this in full it will still on credit files for the 6 year period as a 'satisfied default'.

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Thanks Brigadier.

 

To my knowledge there's no default showing on Equifax (need to check Experian next) and she must have stopped paying for the water well over a year ago

judging by the amount that's outstanding, so hopefully I've avoided a default.

 

I read that Yorkshire Water have started recording defaults on missed payments, so that made me panic.

 

I'm just trying to limit damage to my credit at this point, the loss of money is frustrating, but not being able to get a mortgage for 6+ years is more of a concern at the moment.

Am I right in thinking if the debts get paid off any outstanding debt traces will fall off faster than 6 years?

 

I will pursue the fraudulent change of account avenue with YW and see what response I get.

I wasn't sure whether they would argue that by me being on the tenancy agreement and using the water

I was somehow agreeing to a contract with them.

 

I certainly didn't sign any paperwork or give them my personal details.

 

I figure I have nothing to lose by writing to them.

 

Would they have to provide evidence of either a signature or phonecall in which I allegedly gave my permission to be on the account?

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Water Services charges are payable by the occupier of a property under statute, pursuant to the Water Industry Act 1991 (s) 142, 143 and 144, and as you were an occupier benefitting from the supply, the question of how you became named on the account will be of no concern to Yorkshire Water only the fact you were an occupier of the premises, jointly and severally liable for the charges.

 

While there is no default on the account on the account I would suggest paying for the charges firstly to preserve your credit rating and secondly to avoid possible small claims action taken by them to recover the balance which could result in a CCJ and incurred claim costs.

 

Once you have sorted that out then you can start your own small claims proceedings to recover your ex-flatmates share.....

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Thanks for replying kjun.

 

I will pay the outstanding money tommorrow I think, at least then I don't have to worry about a potential CCJ.

 

I had thought about taking ex housemate to small claims, but we had no formal contract of who was paying for what, just the joint tenancy agreement.

I'm not convinced my claim would be successful.

 

On the other hand, she had made a couple of payments towards the water bill and there was a payment plan in place with NPower,

so it might be worth looking into a bit further.

 

I do have several Facebook messages from her in which she admits she owes the money,

but I would have thought most Judges would dismiss that as evidence as it's not a formal contract?

 

Also, it's fairly likely she may just not turn up to court on the day, she has a bury her head in the sand approach.

 

She wouldn't have the money to repay me if I won, but I guess any token amount of money I get back would be a bonus.

If it's a reasonably cheap process it might be worth it to show her that her behaviour is totally unacceptable.

I could send her a notice before action as I have her current address and see whether that shocks her into facing up to her responsibilities (doubtful).

 

Does anyone have any opinions on whether this is worth doing? Tips to make sure I have a strong case, or any information on similar cases that have been successful/unsuccessful.

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water bills rarely show on cra files.

 

pay YW not the DCA

 

its a NON priority bill [unlike gas/electric]

 

so YOU DO NOT have to pay it in one go

 

treat as any other debt.

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Thanks again, it's good to know it's not likely to show as a default. I would pay YW directly as I know DCAs can add on all kinds of admin fees. I can afford to pay it in one go, so I'll probably do that so I know it's done with. I'm considering getting a bit of legal advice, but am wondering if I can try to get her to sign a contract which admits she owes the money. Something along the lines of a letter before court action offering her the chance to pay back a small amount of a few pounds a month to me and knocking a small amount of what she owes as a goodwill gesture. If she refuses or doesn't respond, I'll issue the court papers. Then if she stops paying I'm guessing my case may seem stronger to the court.

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If you intend to pay YW direct would suggest using the automated payment line (i assume they have one) as call centre operatives will likely refer you to the DCA.

 

In this case there should be no additional charges added to the debt as in my experience they work on a commission basis so you should pay exactly the same sum whoever you pay it to.

 

I think a letter to the other party would be a wise move and show willing to settle the matter prior to a court claim if it gets to that...

 

I note you stated you paid other bills which hopefully you can evidence but my only concern would be the other party claiming they made contributions to you for these and this bill which would then effectively mean its your word against theirs.

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It's entirely likely she may try to argue she paid towards it. I would try to claim back the lump sum of the NPower bill, I do still have the authorisation codes for that payment and I believe another 'friend' has been supporting her financially for the past year, so she's unlikely she's been lifting money regularly from her account which she could claim she's been giving me. She's certainly never bank transferred me any money. She did speak with NPower last year and make a couple of small payments totaling maybe £15 (I'll have to look it up) then stopped the payment plan, I would imagine without speaking to them.

 

I know she's ignored loads of warning letters from NPower and YW as she lived with one of my friends for a few months last year (before being kicked out for not paying bills) and he kept telling her she needs to speak to them or me about it, not just ignore it. He's had bailiffs turn up at his house looking for her after she moved out, so she's burnt another bridge with him.

 

I'm not sure how in depth the courts look into character, but she has a lot going against her, whereas I've made contact with the companies involved (and her) to try to settle the debt. I know at the end of the day, it'll come down to my word against her's and there's always the possibility she could just lie in court. Also the process of actually recovering any money is likely to be difficult and not worth it, if she still refuses to co-operate. I'll send the letter detailing a proposed payment plan at least and see if it pricks her conscience.

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I think you are correct in sending a letter first but you are totally spot on with regards to proceedings as if the other party is not concerned with a judgment or the possibilty of one then the problem will remain of actually getting the money in your hand with or without a judgment.

 

Of course a judgment can be enforced using a bailiff but unless the debt is enough to instruct a High Court Enforcement Company I would not bother with this route as in my experience the court bailiffs are largely ineffective and return a warrant far too easilyto the judgment Claimant.

 

There are other enforcement methods but you need specific information, bank details (Third Party Order), if they own a property (Charging Order) or their employer (Attachment of Earnings).

 

This information can be obtained by making an application for an Order to Attend for Questioning which is a very effective tool in my opinion though of course further costs will be incurred with this (it is £150.00 for service of an order to attend by a court bailiff) and other enforcement methods.

 

In summary consideration should be made as to how strong you feel your case would be and the value of the debt compared to possible incurred costs as at the end of the day if the person has no money you can't get blood out of a stone judgment or not and you could end up with £1.00 per month on a variation order....

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  • 1 month later...

Just thought I'd post an update in case it's of help to anyone who finds themselves in this situation. I wrote to Yorkshire Water requesting a copy of the original bill. I told them my name had been added to the account without my permission, but that I wanted to settle the matter with them directly. They wrote back saying they have cancelled the charge in my name in full and requested that the DCA remove the default they had registered for non payment of the bill. Westcot have since written to me informing that they've closed the case, so I'm very relieved. Really impressed with how Yorkshire Water dealt with the matter and also thankyou to everyone who replied on here.

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