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Councils reselling water

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Councils reselling water

Post by jss64 on Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:10 am

Up to four MILLION tenants set for huge water bill refunds after landmark case.

http://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/personalfinance/up-to-four-million-tenants-set-for-huge-water-bill-refunds-after-landmark-case/ar-AAs1bsY?li=AAnZ9Ug&ocid=mailsignout

Millions of hard-up council ­tenants may have been soaked by their landlords over water bills , the Sunday Mirror can reveal.

Up to four million could be in line for huge refunds after it emerged that at least one local authority added water and sewerage charges to rent in an illegal way.

The council was paid commission by a water company to act as its agent – but failed to pass this on to 40,0000 tenants to offset their bills.

The system – seen as effectively “reselling” water – was deemed unlawful in a landmark court case and the council now faces paying out £28million in refunds.

Now tenants in nearly two dozen other areas want to know if their own town halls and housing associations have been pulling the same trick.

In a scandal that mirrors PPI mis-selling, we have seen documents claiming the unlawful agreements are “common across the country”.

A team of lawyers is currently sifting through more than 30,000 claims from customers stretching across 22 districts including Birmingham, Liverpool and Yorkshire.

The Local Government Association says it is “supporting a number of local authorities” to make sure they are not overcharging tenants.

And some of the UK’s biggest water companies, while not being accused of wrongdoing, have confirmed they are reviewing the “impact on their businesses”.

Ben Hawkins, of the group action WaterClaimsUK, said local authorities and housing associations were trying to ignore or play down the issue.

He said: “We have unearthed a nationwide practice of large social housing landlords, which includes councils and housing associations, who could be acting unlawfully.

“We suspect councils are trying to brush the issue under the carpet and hope it goes away.

“Thousands of people are looking at joining potential group action against social landlords who potentially unlawfully overcharged them. It could be massive.”

Legal experts say some of the most vulnerable tenants have been hit with bloated bills in a nationwide problem.

Some may even have been evicted from their homes after the overcharging forced them into arrears.

Solicitors are now preparing a US-style class action against councils amid fears as many as four million Brits could be affected.

And up to 1,000 councils and social housing companies could be forced to repay huge amounts for deceiving tenants.

It follows a landmark legal ruling that Southwark Council, the authority which runs a borough in South London, had illegally overcharged tenants for water.

In a case where tenants were headed up by self-employed painter and decorator Kim Jones, the High Court was told the council had collected water bills from tenants on behalf of Thames Water.

But it still overcharged tenants by the amount of commission it had received – plus an allowance given for empty homes – which added up to 22.1 per cent of the total charge.


The judge said the council had contravened the 2006 Water Resale Order and had effectively “bought and resold water and sewage services”.

The council claimed the extra money was put back into its services.

Stephanie Cryan, Southwark Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for housing, has claimed Thames Water had around 70 similar contracts in London and such agreements were “common” elsewhere.

Already a legal team representing council tenants say they are investigating more than 30,000 cases where they may have fallen victim.

Officials at councils in Wandsworth, South London and Surrey-based Waverley, which also billed tenants on behalf of Thames Water, admit they operate the same system.

Waverley Borough Council said it was offering “a percentage of the commission we received for water charge collection between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2017”.

An LGA spokesman said: “We are supporting a number of local authorities to ensure their arrangements are compliant with the court’s decision.”

Watchdogs at Ofwat said: “We are aware that water resale can be an issue and have been contacted by people unhappy with the way their water charges have been calculated.”

Andy White, Senior Policy Manager at the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We have worked to ensure that tenants living in properties where councils or housing associations have a collection arrangement do not pay a penny more than they would if they were paying the bill direct.”

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Re: Councils reselling water

Post by LionsShare on Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:47 pm

The 1 thing that will proberbly come out of this No-ONE in any council will be held accountable or prosecuted just like the banking scandle 10 years back!
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Re: Councils reselling water

Post by Jinxer on Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:30 pm

@LionsShare wrote:The 1 thing that will proberbly come out of this No-ONE in any council will be held accountable or prosecuted just like the banking scandle 10 years back!
Council Tax will go up to pay for their greed so that's 2 things.

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Re: Councils reselling water

Post by Lopsum on Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:48 pm

i wonder if the council are doing this with allotment rates too, i get charged £20 fixed charge for water, and so does everyone else, 180 plots all same charge. Now i wonder if they are making money through reselling the water or if the water company gets all the money.
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Re: Councils reselling water

Post by Awoken2 on Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:25 pm

Ahhhh that old ruse, I believe that scam was first done back in 92 by a guy named Trotter.... The Peckham Spring heist.
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Re: Councils reselling water

Post by actinglikeabanker on Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:11 pm

You might be on to something there Lopsum,

Here is a couple of 'What Do They Know',

Metred water costs at allotment sites := https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/metred_water_costs_at_allotment

Allotment water charges := https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/allotment_water_charges


The following is an interesting read, it sounds like the model being used at your allotments where they total the bill on one meter and divide the total amongst all the allotments,

NORTHAMPTON BOROUGH COUNCIL OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY ALLOTMENTS (WATER CHARGES) := http://www.northamptonboroughcouncil.com/documents/s8688/minutes%207%20September%202006.pdf

They are reporting 40% of usage as leakage as well which they don't seem that bothered about passing on to the individual plot holders.

I suppose if your rate is fixed at £20 per year, reviewed every x years then, it is likely they are reselling the water to the plot holders. I guess an example would be if Northampton bc fixed the 40% leakage, would they pass the 40% cost saving on or would they just keep the set figure for a plot based on poles.

Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 := http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Edw7/8/36
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