LL is responsible for tenants water bills, because Judge calls Ll the occupier???????
We have just lost, today, a small claim in front of a DDJ, the Water company said that they want me the LL to pay the water bill. We have a HiMO and the tenants have been there for a number of years, one even works for the Bristol Water themselves.
I DO NOT live at the premises.
Bristol Water said that they could not get any answer from the tenants, and because of this they proceeded against me as the landlord. I defended the action on the basis that I was not the occupier, and that the tenants occupied the property. They are paying the gas and electric, they are not transient, one has been there about 3 years, the shortest stay is the Bristol Water worker who has been there about 6 months. They are on Housing Benefit (not the water guy) which is paid to us, but ineligable services means that Water charges are not part of the rent.
Bristol Water said that there was a case of Glasgow Borough v Johnstone 1965, and because it was a commercial premises actually a charity, they were talking about churches, then the owner is the occupant. Personally I cannot see how this could possibley be related to HiMO and water bills, but there you go.
The Deputy District Judge, I understand that a DDJ is a Solicitor of many years, said that because the HiMO is a commercial venture, then the LL is the occupier. He said that the LL can give the details to the Bristol Water, but only if Bristol Water want to accept the 3rd party (the tenant being the 3rd party)they could refuse to accept this and just keep billing the LL.
I argued that i was not the occupier, and where does it stop, if the LL is responsible for the water, what about the gas, electric, TV Licence, it could go on, what about the telephone, Cable TV, internet connection. Everytime any company cannot get any joy with the tenant, they can bill the LL. They are claiming the money under statutory law and so it is probable that only gas, water and electric could be at issue.
Bristol Water have already quoted a small case in Portsmouth that they won and now they have said that they will start to quote this case as well. I intend to Appeal this to a Circuit Judge.
The Ramifications are enourmous, no, they are monsterous. If this matter goes to a High Court and the law starts to become precedential, where would it stop?
It would mean that all HiMO LL's would be responsible for water bills. Now then what if the gas and Electric get to hear about it? The HiMO ll's would start being sued for gas and electric bills, as it would be a commercial venture and the LL would be the occupier. But then again, it would not stop there, who says it has to stop with a HiMO, a normal house/flat in sole occupancy (single family), if it is owned by a LL, then it's a commercial venture, as a commercial venture - can't get the money from the tenant, get it from the LL. This now incorporates every LL of every property, including gas and elec bills, not just water.
But it does not stop there, if you have a commercial premises and you let it to a business, and the business goes out of business, then the LL could be responsible for the water / gas / elec.
From John O'Grotes to Landsend, the ramifications are massive.
I want to appeal this matter, and would be looking for some help in the appeal, I only have 21 days to appeal. The DDJ wouild not allow an appeal and so i have to put forward my request to a Circuit Judge, I feel that I can handle that quite well, indeed it might be better to put in it writing than to try and present a case, if I have not presented before.
As the RLA, this could have massive profound effects for all RLA members, not just HiMO LL's and water bills, but that could be massive on it's own.
What do you think is the best way forward on this matter?
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