Labour may enlist landlords to tackle water bad debt

Labour may enlist landlords to tackle water bad debt

Labour is considering legislation which would require landlords to pass on tenant information where bills are unpaid, according to Utility Week. The trade magazine reports that water companies are keen to tackle bad debt.

A spokesman for Labour told Utility Week that if the party comes to power next year it might opt to place a duty on landlords across England to provide details of their own address along with a tenant’s name, date of birth and the date they started occupancy.

It is hoped that giving these details to the water companies will help them to tackle the issue of bad debt, and ensure that non-payment from those who are able to pay, is reduced.

According to CCWater bad debt costs to water companies stand at approximately £1,635 million per year in outstanding and unpaid bills.

A spokesman for Labour said: “These reforms will focus on finding new ways to support those who cannot pay their water bills and pursuing those who can pay but choose not to - this means tackling ‘bad debt’ or ‘non-payment’, which adds around £15 on to everyone’s water bill.”

These reforms are similar to those currently being introduced by the Welsh government. In Wales, laws mandating landlords to pass on tenant information to the water companies is being laid before the Welsh government, and is set to come into force at the start of next year. If landlords in Wales don’t provide this information they would become jointly liable for payment of water charges at the tenanted property. These reforms were originally scheduled to be introduced earlier this year, but the plans were delayed in March this year.

This time last year the Government announced plans for a voluntary database for landlords to provide information about their tenants to water companies.