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Ramblings, thoughts, facts and opinions about political things - starting point council tenant participation with my land-lord Camden council and council tenant reps plus other housing issues, and whatever.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

Legal Action Threat for Water Charge Arrears

Land-lord Camden council has sent me a letter [received 15 June 2017] saying they will start legal action against me if I don't pay the arrears of the water charges I stopped paying around Dec 2016.

I think I have a good enough reason for stopping paying the water charges and continuing to not pay it until the landlord gives me and other tenants back the money they owe us because of overcharging us. Plus I think they need to set a new and lawful charge [ if they haven't done so already but they haven't said so].

The water charge isn't the rent, its a seperate charge to the rent yet they call it rent. Its a service charge.

I have ten days from date of letter [9 June 2017]. It says to call them if I have financial or other difficulties. I contacted them a while ago and explained why I haven't paid the charge. They didn't reply but sent the threatening letter instead. Business as usual for the housing department.

Plus all these years I have had to put up with the noise here and the landlord won't do anything about it that I'm aware of,  and estate officier comes to my flat makes 'promises' then goes away and I don't hear anything about it from her again. She could see what a state I was in. Was it just lies to try and butter me up?

Though I feel anxious at the thought of having to go to court and the risk it entails I need to hold my nerve on this.

I await the court case.

23 Aug 2017
Latest letter dated 15 August 2017 is NOTICE OF SEEKING POSSESSION [not to begin before 24 Sept 2017] which I sent them an email in reply to and am waiting for an email reply back. This letter came very shortly after a message from someone in the council left on my home phone answering machine. They haven't been helpful at all to me with the difficulties i'm having, which doesn't come as a surprise.

They will refer my case to the councils legal team if I don't coff up the claimed arrears.

This issue isn't only about me its about all unmetered camden council tenants as well as other london boroughs tenants.

As well as me having difficulties with the water charge payments I also have difficulties with communicating verbally with camden council and find it a lot easier to do so in writing. I would prefer to avoid court but rent support won't reply to emails.

25 August 2017
Came across the following from  http://www.dpglaw.co.uk/hundreds-thousands-overcharged-water/

"A High Court ruling has established that hundreds of thousands of tenants have been overcharged for water and sewerage. Lawyers say that affected tenants will be entitled to refunds running to hundreds if not thousands of pounds.

As reported by the BBC, the test case was brought by Kim Jones, a tenant of Southwark Council.

Along with 37,000 other tenants in Southwark, Ms Jones’ tenancy agreement required to pay charges for water and sewerage to her landlord. The amount Ms Jones was required to pay her landlord was significantly more than the amount the landlord was required to pay Thames Water.

The High Court ruled that this was unlawful because it breached the Water Resale Orders, which prohibit water and sewerage from being resold at a profit.

Whilst initially criticising the decision, Southwark Council has now announced that it will not appeal and will being repaying to tenants some of the unlawful charges.
Ms Jones’ solicitor, Gareth Mitchell, of Deighton Pierce Glynn, said:
Thames Water has confirmed that it has similar arrangements with 69 local authorities and housing associations throughout its area covering 375,000 households. For households in occupation since 2001, they will have been overcharged around £700 to £1,000.

Southwark Council’s announcement that it will only make a partial refund to the 37,000 tenants affected within its borough is unacceptable. These are low income tenants for whom this is a significant amount of money. For many years, Southwark concealed from its tenants the true nature of its relationship with Thames Water. It is not only morally unacceptable for Southwark Council to retain these unlawful charges, the legal basis for their approach is doubtful and further litigation is very likely if they do not relent.

As for the other local authorities and housing associations affected by this issue, we are expecting them to make contact with their tenants over the coming weeks and to indicate what arrangements they will be making to repay the unlawful charges.

However, the impact of the judgment does not stop there.

The judge also decided that between April 2002 and April 2010 Thames Water should have billed the owners of rented accommodation for water and sewerage, rather than tenants. Whereas Thames Water’s evidence in the High Court was that throughout this period it had billed and recovered charges from tenants, rather than landlords.

Thames Water has not yet announced what arrangements it will be making to reimburse these tenants, all of whom were incorrectly charged hundreds of pounds each year during the 2002 to 2010 period.

BBC London TV news report on 25 April 2016 (lead item) see: here. 

DPG’s Gareth Mitchell was also interviewed about the case on Vanessa Feltz’s breakfast show on 25 April 2016 at 07:35hrs (35 mins in); with Southwark council’s response at 08.21hrs (1 hour 21 mins in): here.
An article about the implications of the case will appear in the May 2016 edition of Legal Action.

8 Sept 2017
Rent officer has passed me onto the councils Financial Inclusion officers who sent me a letter and who I emailed and await their reply.

The Notice they sent to me is a sham.

4 Nov 2017
No word yet from the Financial Inclusion officers I sent an email to about the letter they sent to me.

7 Nov 2017
Someone from the Rent service phoned me yesterday and I explained a bit why I was with- holding the water charge and that I had replied via email to every letter I received but haven't had any email replies back.  I don't know what happens next will wait and see.

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