FOI request (FOI224248)
Requested Wed 13 December 2017
Responded Wed 13 December 2017
I recently came across a court case between Southwark council in London and one of its tenants which said that the council had been overcharging its tenants for the supply of water. I read about the case in newspaper reports and understand that the tenants were paid millions of pounds in refunds.
I want to know whether my family and friends have been overcharged too and am asking you to give me information and copies of agreements so that I can investigate.
- Please tell me if you have ever charged your housing tenants for supplying water to them. I understand that this is sometimes included in a rent payment and sometimes as a separate service charge, so please include both.
- If so, please tell me the date that you started doing it and the date that you stopped.
- Please send me a copy of the agreements between the council and the water companies that give you the ability to make those charges to tenants and show me how much the council has to pay back to the water companies.
- Please show me the minutes of any council meetings where you talked about water charges for your tenants so I can understand what made the council want to do it this way.
(1) Hastings Borough Council (HBC) does not have any housing stock but we do have a leasing scheme currently where properties are leased from owners and rented to tenants by Hastings Borough Council.
The only properties where we charge tenants for water are in our 3 leased HMO's (Houses of multiple occupation). (2) The first one was leased on 1/7/2016, the second on 25/7/2016 and the third on 7/10/2016. (3) Each property when full has 5 tenants.
Each tenant whilst in occupation is charged a weekly service charge of £23.00 separate from their rent, which includes water, gas, electricity, council tax, communal cleaning and communal gardening. We do not have an agreement with the water companies other than that we (HBC) pay the water bills (and all the other bills noted above) when received from the relevant companies/suppliers. (4) There are no minutes of meetings held in this respect. Temporary accommodation (Bed & Breakfast (B&B)/Annexe):
(1 & 2) The council does not have its own temporary accommodation but does place people in them. Each tenant whilst in temporary accommodation is charged a weekly service charge, for single tenants under 25 £21.00, over 25 £27.00 and couples/families £42.00 this service charge covers utility costs such as water, gas and electricity, communal cleaning and communal gardening and is paid by the tenant to the B&B provider whilst they are in the temporary accommodation. (3) As we do not manage/own these properties, we therefore do not have an agreement between us and the water companies. The B&B provider pays their own water bills. (4) As the tenants are not ours, we therefore do not have minutes of meetings.
Freedom of Information