Water Bill Proposals.

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The banner headline tells us the grasping water companies are now expecting the private landlord to indemnify any costs for water supplies to privately leased properties.

The tale of woe from one J. Cuthbert is as follows:

Water bill proposal worries buy-to-let sector
Proposed changes to laws governing the payment of water bills have many in the buy-to-let sector worried, as landlords may find themselves weighed down by the burden of new expenses. According to proposed modifications to water charges, residential landlords may end up having to pay the unpaid balance on water bills owed by tenants who have since moved out of the rental unit. This change has everything to do with the fact that water companies throughout the United Kingdom face dire financial prospects. Many water companies are suffering under the burden of bad debt, while declines in profit sometimes exceed 10 percent, as in the case of Northumbrian Water. Water suppliers argue that changes are necessary in the buy-to-let sector, as tenants who fail to pay their bills for several months need not worry that their water supply will be cut off. British laws prohibit companies from suspending access to potable water, even in the case of non-payment.

John Cuthbert, managing director at Northumbrian Water, noted that one of several solutions on the table would be to require residential landlords to pay for any debts that tenants have accumulated. If this proposal is accepted, each landlord or letting agent would have to sign a document indicating whether the owner or the tenant is responsible for paying water bills, according to the terms of the tenancy agreement. This would mean that landlords would be required to offer water companies more details on who they are renting their properties to, so as to limit their liability in the case of bad debt. The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has already confirmed that the government is considering this proposal. Many landlords, however, argue that such a change would lead to rising rents, in order to cover the possibility of extra costs.

However one J. Cuthbert related a much different tale to his shareholders on the performance of Northubrian Water as follows on 3rd June 2009..

03.06.09 :-6.75, (245.25) announces its preliminary results for the year ended 31 March 2009. Highlights: * Revenue increase mainly reflects the uplift in tariffs to support continuing high capital investment * Energy costs are over 50% higher than last year, well above the level assumed at the last price review * Increased interest charges reflecting higher RPI on index linked bonds (GBP6.2 million) and increased pension financing costs (GBP7.4 million) * Deferred tax includes a one-off charge of GBP117.2 million following the withdrawal of industrial buildings allowances in the Finance Act 2008 * Current funding is sufficient to meet all of the Group's requirements through to 2011 * Regulated capital investment in the period of GBP228.9 million (2008: GBP232.6 million) is delivering regulatory outputs, an extended sewer flooding programme and the advanced digestion plant at Bran Sands * Planning permission for the expansion of Abberton reservoir granted * Continued high levels of customer satisfaction * Proposed final dividend of 8.50 pence (2008: 8.07 pence) per share to be paid on 11 September 2009, giving a full year ordinary dividend of 12.79 pence (2008: 12.07 pence) per share, an increase of 6% * External recognition of performance through awards, most notably 'The Queen's Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development' and 'Utility Company of the Year'....... Managing Director John Cuthbert said, "The Group has produced good financial and operating results against a difficult economic background. Overall, demand for water and sewerage services is down by 1%. Energy prices continue to be volatile and, despite managed reductions in demand, have increased operating costs in the year. The Group continues to benefit from low cost debt secured to finance all of its requirements through to 2011. Northumbrian Water Limited submitted its Final Business Plan in April and awaits the Draft Determination from Ofwat in July."

A tale of of quantum greed methinks. When one considers the water companies get their main product for SFA. They capitalise enormously on the byproduct (raw sewage)and they have a captive customers base.
To come up with this crap to make landlords responsibile for alleged funds lost due to their own ineptitude is criminal.

06/06/2009 00:00

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