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 rationale behind this is to prevent tenant’s departing properties without providing water companies with appropriate forwarding addresses and leaving unpaid bills. Should the landlord fail to comply with this provision he will become jointly and severally liable the invoices of the water usage at the rented property.
The supplemental regulations that the government has created to bring the provisions into force are still in draft. However we understand that they will require the water companies to set up appropriate websites for landlords to 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 this kind of statutory protection. Landlords and agents should consider amending their tenancy agreements to specify that tenants must provide evidence of the water bill being paid to date otherwise it will be deducted from the deposit.