Instead, the Review concludes that there should be an obligation on landlords to notify water companies of changes in tenancy, and only then if failing to do so, would any liability flow. The water companies in turn should be obliged to make the notification process as easy as possible.
The Review also looked at charges in shared accommodation, often termed houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). It concluded that in such properties it was often practical for the property owner to be billed for water charges. In such situations the owners would often recharge to occupiers making water metering difficult.
In a compromise the Review concluded that owners of such property should be provided with the certainty of an assessed charge providing they were conscious of water conservation as evidenced by meeting Sustainable Homes Code level 3.
Implementation of such policies relies on finding the necessary legislative time.
Reacting to the Review results, Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy (Real Estate) at the BPF, said: "Our actions have averted the immediate threat of legislation that could have seen landlords automatically liable for their tenants’ water bills. Following lengthy discussions with the water companies and Review team we believe a satisfactory outcome has been achieved.
"The water companies have significant problems with bad debts. However, to make landlords instantly liable for their tenants’ water usage and debts would have been inequitable and run against the environmental objectives of wider water metering. We are pleased therefore to have thrashed out a compromise that sees landlords and water companies working together for the benefit of the wider public.
"However, some devil remains in the detail, particularly on what is defined as an HMO."
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