Often, businesses can be billed for utilities which are also used by other businesses at the same premises. This may be because a landlord has separated one building into multiple business units without separating their utilities to save money. But why would you want to pay for your neighbour’s bill, particularly if your water consumption is less than the neighbouring business(es)?
We understand that this may not seem fair, so here’s our advice on how tenants can separate their water bills from other occupiers’ premises.
Step 1: Check your water retailer’s scheme of terms and conditions
Understandably, customers may assume that separating a joint supply between tenants is their water supplier’s responsibility. However, this is rarely if ever the case. Internal plumbing arrangements within a building are a private matter between the users of water and their landlord. It’s important to read through your retailer’s ‘scheme of terms and conditions’ first, to check whose responsibility it is to resolve. Affinity for Business’ current 2019/20 Scheme of Terms and Conditions state:
15.4: “Where Premises we supply with water through a single meter comprise areas in separate occupation and there is no written agreement with us by which any one person accepts responsibility for the Charges then each of the occupiers of the Premises is jointly and severally liable for the whole of the Charges in respect of water supplied by the single meter.”
Commonly, water retailers (including us) will bill one of the occupiers on site for the whole amount of charges going through the shared water meter. Which means it may be the landlord’s responsibility to create an agreement with their tenants to separate/resolve any of their utility bills.
Step 2: Read through your tenancy agreement
Once you’ve understood your water retailer’s scheme of terms and charges, you may want to read through your tenancy agreement to find out who is responsible for the water charges and take steps number 3 or 4 to separate your joint supply.
Step 3: You can arrange to get a separate meter for each individual business
If you would prefer to have each individual business (unit) be under a separate meter, you have the option to contact the Developer Services of your wholesaler to ask them to separate the supplies. This also means, any outstanding water/waste charges will need to be cleared with your retailer beforehand, and your wholesaler charging for their Developer Services will be at your/your landlord’s cost.
Step 4: Alternatively, you can contact a plumber
Whilst separating each individual unit via Developer Services can be costly, a cheaper alternative may be for you (or the landlord) to get in touch with a skilled professional plumber to install your own private sub-meters. Having a private sub-meter on your business premises will mean you can accurately monitor your water consumption and ensure each joint business contributes to the joint water/waste bill fairly.
Based on our experience with these types of customers, we recommend the cheapest and quickest way to resolve this problem is to come to an amicable arrangement with your business neighbours.
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