This page sets out our principles and minimum expectations for the services that water companies deliver to support residential customers paying through third parties. This is part of our Paying Fair Guidelines.
3. Treat customers that have their accounts managed by agents as customers of the company
Customers whose accounts are managed by local authorities, housing associations or some other form of billing agent should, wherever practicable, receive the same level of service and care as those whose accounts remain with the water company.
Have clear agreements with agents
3.1 Companies that have agreements in place with local authorities, housing associations or other social housing providers should ensure that agreements are drafted in a simple way so that responsibilities are clear on how issues will be resolved in a well-managed way for tenants.
Make customers aware of their rights
3.2 All customers billed by their local authority or housing associations should be made aware of their legal status in terms of which organisation they are the ‘customer’ of and the implications in relation to the rights they are entitled to when compared to directly billed water customers. This may be in the form of communications specifically designed for customers billed by their local authority or housing association. These customers should still receive all relevant information about:
- the water charges that the water company makes in relation to their property; and
- how they can access financial support from the water company and other help to reduce their water bill such as, where appropriate, installing a meter, social tariffs and opportunities for accessing company financial hardship fund or other affordability schemes.
3.3 Work with local authorities and housing associations to avoid the company’s information to customers duplicating the local authority or housing associations information. Under the water resale order (where that applies) some information will be provided by the re-seller (the re-seller is also obliged to provide detailed information about the calculation of charges upon request).
Consult tenants where charges are collected as part of the tenancy
3.4 Where it is proposed that water charges are not collected by the water company directly, carry out a full and effective consultation with tenants before any new agreement starts.
Act quickly to help to resolve disputes between customers and agents
3.5 Act quickly to help to resolve disputes between customers and agents. This includes:
- helping to resolve specific complaints; and
- taking steps to help avoid similar disputes happening between customers and agents in future.
Next section: Paying Fair Guidelines to support customers in debt
Previous section: Paying Fair Guidelines to support customers in vulnerable circumstances