In the early 2000’s, water companies offered Councils and social housing landlords opportunities to enter into a contractual arrangement to provide billing and collection services in return for an administration fee. This arrangement was common practice nationally.
Brent Housing Partnership (BHP) on behalf of Brent Council entered into two of these arrangements, the first with Thames Water Utilities in 2003 (ending in 2017) and later Affinity Water in 2005 (ending in 2021).
In 2016, Southwark Council were challenged on the legality of this arrangement. The court ruled in favour of the challenge, and Southwark were ordered to refund the affected residents. The Court of Appeal then upheld this judgement in October 2020.
Following this ruling, the Council’s Cabinet agreed to refund all overcharges to current and former tenants who were affected. All accounts have been assessed by internal and external auditors and we are now contacting all residents in order to issue refunds.
This guide explains how overpayments will be credited to rent accounts and the process for receiving a refund if you’re eligible.
Information for current tenants
We will apply the refund to your current rent account automatically. You do not need to contact us to ask for this to happen.
We will use the credit refund to clear any outstanding debts relating to your tenancy with us. If there is any remaining credit on your account you will receive a letter sent to your home address with instructions on how to receive the money from a local Post Office.
You should have received your letter and payment voucher by 31 January 2022, please email Housing.Rents@brent.gov.uk if you have not received yours.
Information for former tenants
The refund value for former tenants will be calculated in the same way as for current tenants.
We do not hold current addresses for most former tenants, so we cannot contact them directly. However, if you were a Brent Council tenant in April 2003 – April 2021 and paid water rates with your rent, you may be eligible for a refund.
If you think you are eligible for a refund, please email us at Housing.Rents@brent.gov.uk.
Refund requests against accounts in arrears will not be processed.
Information for Homeowners
Residents who were previously tenants before purchasing their property may be eligible for a refund. Please email Housing.Rents@brent.gov.uk to request.
How has my refund been calculated?
The refund is calculated at 17.2 per cent of water charges from your tenancy start date until the end of the 2016/17 financial year for Thames Water supply, or at 15 per cent of water charges until the end of 2020/21 financial year for Affinity Water supply. Interest is also added to the refund amount to reflect the period of overcharge, as required by the Water Resale Order 2006.
Further information on water resale orders is available in the OFWAT guide to water resale.
Will this affect any housing-related benefits I receive?
The refund will appear as a credit on your rent accounts. This should not affect your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit in any way.
The rebate will be considered when assessing your total savings for Housing Benefit purposes only if you claim it as a refund.
Where can I get further information?
For any further information, please email Housing.Rents@brent.gov.uk
Additional information on the 2001 and 2006 Water Resale Orders is available in the following OFWAT guide to water resale: A guide to water resale.