A simple telephone call to the buy to let home water supplier is a money saving tip for landlords that can cut out a lot of hassle from debt collectors.
Many landlords are unaware of a subtle change in the law a while back that was a game-changer for debt collectors.
The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 demands that landlords must tell water suppliers when new tenants move in and give some personal details like meter readings and their names.
The downside is if a landlord doesn’t remember to make the call, he is liable to pay any bill if the tenant skips off without paying.
The risk is real. Around a fifth of water bills are in arrears compared to less than 5% of gas and electricity bills because other laws prevent water companies cutting off supplies.
The best money saving tip for landlords dealing with this obligation is to write a clause in to the tenancy agreement that requires the tenant to prove the water bill has been paid when they move out – and if not, the deposit is retained until the matter is sorted out.
That way the tenant cannot skip without paying and the landlord is not left to settle the debt.
If a letting agent is managing the property, they will generally take on this responsibility as part of any check-in and check-out procedure.
But although most agents are good at switching the bill payers when a tenant moves in, they tend to overlook the issue of whether the water bill is paid when on check-out.
So don’t overlook this money saving tip for landlords and play safe and call the water provider direct.
If not, expect a flood of letters and telephone calls demanding the cash from debt collection agencies.
Log calls and contact over registering the tenant with the water company, as the law does give landlords a get-out if they have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to tell them about the change of tenants.