The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 is expected to come into force in October 2011.
Section 45 of the Act amends the Water Industry Act 1991 to place an obligation on the Landlord to provide the tenant’s contact details to the relevant water company.
The idea behind this is to prevent tenant’s leaving unpaid bills when the tenancy ends but the sting is in the tail for the landlord – if the landlord fail to comply with this provision he will become jointly and severally liable for the water bill at the rented property. In reality this will mean that he will end up paying this if a tenant defaults.
The supplemental regulations are still in draft but it is likely that websites will be set up by the water companies to collect the necessary contact information about the tenants from the landlord.
This change place a significant new obligation on Landlords. They should therefore :
- consider revising their letting agreements to ensure that water bills are paid and if not the cost may be deducted from the deposit. Alternatively they could increase the rent to take into account the cost of the water bill and taking over the responsibility directly;
- ensure that the letting agent is under a contractual obligation to notify the water company as part of their letting agreement. This would provide the Landlord with recourse against them if a bill was later sucessfully claimed for non disclosure.