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toys19

Flat above shop, all on one meter, tenants charged commercial rates.

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As a landlord I am continuously surprised at what tenants will allow them selves to be conned into, this tale hurts my sense of fair play to tenants and I hope you guys can help.

 

My friend is the 4th tenant T4, in a shared flat above a shop in south London (shop also owned by LL). It seems to be on individual contracts. The LL assigned my friend T4 with the responsibility of paying the metered supply water bill to the water company (lets call them WC as I am not sure who they are as yet).

 

She calls WC and they arrange 1/4ly DD of £300. Although they did not change the name on the bill it remains the name of the previous tenant even though now T4 is paying the DD and collecting the other shared contributions from the T1, T2, and T3

At some point it is discovered that the shop below, with a loo and a kitchen, are on the same meter, and that the WC has them on a commercial rate. T4 asked the WC to come and see what was up and they confirmed single meter, commercial rent, and that meter had not been read correctly since june2018 and they in fact owe 2K in back charges.

So T4 and her pals have been paying the water for the shop since June last year, the LL knew this but did not tell T4 or her buddies.

They have spoken to resolver who have said because the water comes in via the shop, then they must pay commercial rates - its about twice what a normal water bill should be - now I think resolver probably cannot think outside the box here...

 

Anyway what to do?

 

I am tempted to advise T4 to just stop paying and give the WC the LL name and address as the bill payer. I feel like LL has committed a fraud by a) not telling them they were paying for the shop, and b) not paying to have a 2nd supply added to the flat.

 

T4 is moving out at the end of April 19 and wants to try and resolve it so that she does not have to pay these ridiculous water charges.

WC seem ambivalent, (as you would expect, they are making the dough right now) LL said tough **** sort it out with shop below. T's 1-3 are spineless and my friend T4 is trying to sort it out.

 

Any advice?

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Inform the WC and let them sort it. It very much sounds like a dodgy landlord.


Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

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T4 has told the WC, they don't care.

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On 31 March 2017 the commercial water supply market was opened up to allow businesses to choose their water company rather than be automatically supplied by whoever operates in that area.

 

Any premise with a commercial element like in this instance is classified as a business regardless of the supply being shared and all occupiers of the business and flat will share a joint and several liability to the charges.

 

The water company will likely not change the charge basis to for example an assessed charge as these only apply to households rather than a business.

 

Options as I see it, get the name(s) of the business owners and have them added to the bill so they then will enjoy joint and several liability also.

 

Secondly and likely unrealistic is the landlord pays for the internal supply to be split so each property get its own bills based on their usage however this of course costs the landlord hence it hardly ever happens.

 

Lastly get an agreement with the other occupiers about contributions to the bills which again may be easier said than done.

 

I suppose an action against the business directly may be possible to recover their portion using the same legislation the water companies use and which deems occupiers liable but how you’d work out their exact liability would be impossible so half and half perhaps..

 

This would be the Water Industry Act 1991 (s) 144 a and b.

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the LL could install internal meters but if they dont care then they wont spend a couple of hundred sorting this out.

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You say that the meter has apparently not been read properly since June of last year. Can you tell us more about that please


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