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Like many other London boroughs, the Council used to have an agreement with Thames Water to collect water charges on their behalf, at the same time as collecting rent from council tenants.
The agreement with Thames Water was in place from December 2005 to September 2019 and during this time, the Council considered itself as an agent working on Thames Water’s behalf and received commission for this. Recent court cases against two other London boroughs have challenged this, and judgements have been made that the councils were acting as water resellers and had overcharged their tenants.
As a result of the court rulings, the Council knows it unwittingly overcharged tenants part of the commission which Thames Water paid.
You will be entitled to a refund if you were a Waltham Forest Council tenant between December 2005 to September 2019 and you were charged for water by the Council. For joint tenancies only one refund will be made as only one water charge was collected for each property affected.
The calculation has been made by taking the total commission charged, deducting an allowable admin fee of 1.5p per day (£5.48 per year), then applying interest (in accordance with the terms of the agreement with Thames Water) up until the date the overcharge was refunded to your account.
Payment has already been made into your rent account. The refund will show as a credit adjustment. However, if you have any rent arrears, outstanding court costs and/or housing benefits overpayments the credit will be used to repay those in the first instance. As the terms of the tenancy agreement state, rent must be paid in advance and a credit of up to one month will be kept on rent accounts to avoid accounts falling into arrears, including tenants paying monthly by standing order, direct debit or Universal credit. If your rent account is in credit you may wish to claim the amount back by submitting a refund claim form.
Following receipt of supporting documentation including proof of identification from all tenants, a refund will be made where eligible to the bank account details provided on the refund claim form. The Council will attempt to contact both tenants to establish that all parties are happy for this to take place. Once a refund is made to a joint tenant no further refunds are payable. However, where joint tenants no longer live at the same household and their whereabouts are unknown, all reasonable attempts will be made to contact both tenants to establish eligibility. If the Council is unable to contact both tenants a repayment will only be made upon the remaining tenant(s) signing an agreement to repay the Council should any joint tenant request a refund.
If you think you are eligible for a refund you will need to make a claim by completing the refund request form. When making a claim you will need to provide a few details, such as proof of tenancy and proof of identity. This is to protect against fraudulent claims. Once the claim has been investigated and approved it will be paid into the bank account details provided. However, where there are any monies owed in relation to your former rent account, outstanding court costs and/ or Housing Benefit overpayments, the credit will be used to repay those in the first instance and will be deducted from any refund due.
To make a claim you will need a My Waltham Forest online account, if you do not have one you will need to register. Once registered follow the steps below:
If you are unable to complete the online form, please contact our Customer Resolution Centre on 0208 496 3000 and our agents will be happy to help you.
A dedicated team will process all refund requests. However, depending on the number of requests we receive it might take a little longer than usual to process these. The Council aims to process refund claims within eight weeks from receiving it and will prioritise claims from current tenants. Claims from former tenants may take slightly longer and the Council will keep this group updated.
If you have any further queries, please email the Water Commission Refund Team at firstname.lastname@example.org ensuring you include your name, address and your rent reference number.