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 supplier.
The idea behind this is to prevent tenant’s from vacating properties without providing water companies with an appropriate forwarding address, and leaving bills remaining unpaid.
Should the landlord fail to comply with this provision he will become jointly and severally liable to pay the unpaid water bills!
The regulations that the government has created to bring the provisions into force are currently still in draft. However it is understood that they will require the water companies to set up appropriate websites for landlords to easily provide the necessary information.
These changes place a significant new obligation on landlords. It also gives the water companies a substantial benefit over other utility providers who do not have the benefit of any statutory protection. Will this lead to a change in the laws with respect of other utility providers?
Landlords and agents should amend their tenancy agreements to specify that tenants must provide evidence of the water bill being paid to date at the end of the tenancy, otherwise the outstanding bill amount will be deducted from the deposit.