The Water Industry Act 1991
The Regulations come into force in 1992.
The Water Industry Act was introduced in preparation for privatisation of the public water utility providers.
Of key interest to landlords and letting agents is the Section relating to the responsibility for payment of water charges. Historically, water charges were often paid for by the landlord for residential occupiers in a similar way to payment of general rates. Accordingly such charges were included in the quoted rents. The introduction of the Water Industry Act reassigns these responsibilities to the occupier.
Section 144, Water Industry Act 1991, Chapter 56:
Occupiers' are liable for water charges unless an alternative agreement has been made between landlord and tenant. This differs from the position prior to council tax and community charge where landlords were normally responsible for payment of general and water rates in residential property.
Detail from Act:
144 -(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section and except as far as provision to the contrary is made by any agreement to which this undertaker is a party -
(a) supplies of water provided by a water undertaker shall be treated for the purposes of this Chapter as services PROVIDED TO THE OCCUPIERS for the time being of any premises supplied; ..'
Also regulations exist for resale of Water (e.g. caravan sites) but the law is currently quite unclear in this area.
Sources for Further Information:
OFWAT (regulatory body) website: www.ofwat.gov.uk
The Letting Centre, website: www.letlink.co.uk
This summary is intended to assist landlords and letting agents to understand the effect of the Act. It is not an authoritative interpretation - this is a matter for the courts. For more detail, you should refer to the text of the Regulations themselves.