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Dispute over water bill

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Tuesday 14 March 2017 11:50:33 am

Hi all,

We (2 people) moved out of an apartment in a block after three happy years there in February 2017. Our deposit of £750 is held by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

We've just heard from the former letting agent that the landlord is wanting to dispute a matter of the water bills, claiming that we "never paid them".

At the start of the tenancy, we rang up the water company who said they simply billed the property management company. The property management company said they bill each owner of each apartment (NOT the tenant). We rang the letting agency and they said the landlord paid for the water. We were in fact unable to put our name to any water bill since the chain of contracts meant it was all in his name. The property management company said that the matter is always between the tenant and the landlord in that apartment block, usually they add a surcharge to the rent.

We then heard nothing over the three years from the landlord about this, until now, when our tenancy is over and he wants to make a claim against the deposit.

We have checked the contract and it says that the tenant is responsible for payment of utilities (gas, water, electric) and it's our responsibility to contact the utility company. However, this is obviously a generic contract that has just been printed off, since it mentions nothing of the circumstances described above. We tried to comply with the contract but were unable to do so.

So we suspect that the landlord has paid the water bills all along and not said anything at all to us - now all of a sudden he's wanting to claim money back.

Please could someone advise me where we stand on this? It's a grey area as we believe he should have contacted us during the tenancy regarding the water bills. He never asked for money from us, we had no water bills, we weren't aware of anything. What's more, he never asked for any kind of surcharge in relation to the water.
We're going to raise a dispute with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme if it's not resolved within a week. We're worried we won't get our deposit back or, if we do, that he will take us to court and we don't know if he stands a good chance of winning.