Water charge refunds

Along with many other local authorities we had a long-standing agreement with Affinity Water and Thames Water Utilities where we collected water charges along with your rent. This meant that you did not have to deal directly with Affinity Water and Thames Water Utilities as we managed the billing and collection of payments.

A recent court case involving another local authority challenged this arrangement and the administration costs that they received from Thames Water for collecting water charges on their behalf. The court ruled that they had acted as a "water reseller" and had charged tenants a "commission". As a result of that ruling, we are now paying this money back. 

Information for current tenants

In 2021, we wrote to all eligible tenants to inform them that they would be receiving a refund, which was applied to rent accounts automatically. We did not make payments directly to tenants' bank accounts.

Information for former tenants

If you were a tenant with us between 2001 and 2018 and you paid water charges to us with your rent, then you may be entitled to a refund. Please complete the online form (below) to see if you are eligible.

If you are eligible for a refund, and your former rent account is in credit, you will receive the refund directly into your bank account. This may take up to 14 days from receipt of your completed application.

If the account still has rent arrears, in the first instance the credit will be used towards repaying those arrears. Any remaining credit will then be paid to your bank account.

Apply for a water charge refund

Frequently asked questions

For more information regarding water charge refunds, please refer to our frequently asked questions below:

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  • Why am I receiving a refund?

    We entered into arrangements with two water companies for the collection of water and sewerage rates from Council tenants. The arrangements started in the mid 1990s and the agreements were entered into originally with a clear understanding that we were acting as an agent. 

    Legislation was passed in 2001 which provided a clear definition of what a "water seller" is and limits the charge that may be made on top of the bill. Councils had presumed that, as they received notice from the water companies of the amount for each individual charged, they were agents, rather than sellers.

    Following a successful legal challenge against another local authority, a judgement has been made that it was acting as a "water seller" rather than an agent. This meant legally that it must refund tenants the income it had received as "commission", other than a nominal amount for administration. The arrangement this local authority had with the water company was very similar to the arrangement we had.

    This means that some tenants will be eligible for a refund.

  • How much will my refund be?

    If you are a current tenant of Dacorum Borough Council you will be sent a letter to let you know how much your refund is. This amount will be credited directly onto your rent account.

  • Why will I only get a refund if I was a tenant between 2001 and 2018?

    Sunday 1 April 2001 was the date the Water Resale Act came into force. Any agreements between water companies and local authorities from this date fall under what has been determined to be water resale agreements. Any commission received by us from this date is now being refunded to tenants.

    In April 2018 the agreements held by us with the water companies were terminated and no further commission was received. Tenants paid charges for water directly to the water companies from Sunday 1 April 2018.

  • How do I claim my refund?

    If you are a current tenant your refund will be added to your rent account, so you do not need to do anything. We will confirm when this credit will be added to your account.

  • What if I was a tenant during the period 2001 to 2018 but I am not now?

    The value of the refund due to former tenants will be calculated in the same way as for current tenants. 

    Due to data protection requirements we do not hold current addresses for most former tenants so we are unable to contact you directly. However, if you were a Dacorum Borough Council tenant during the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2018 and paid water rates and sewerage charges with your rent you may be eligible for a refund of the commission we received. If you think you are eligible for a refund, you will need to complete the water charge refund form on this web page.

    Any arrears still outstanding relating to your former rent account will be deducted from any refund due.

  • How has my refund been calculated?

    To help explain how the refund is calculated we will use an example where the water charges paid by a tenant in one year was £305.96.

    The commission added to this charge at 12 per cent is £36.71 for one year. We were entitled, under the Water Resale Order, to charge 1.5p per day or £5.44 per year for the collection of water charges. The refund due for that year is the difference between the commission charged and the allowable administration fee - £36.71 minus £5.44 equals £31.27. This calculation is carried out for each year a tenant was charged during the relevant period.

    In addition, interest is added to the amount calculated above. This is in recognition of the fact that this money has been held by us for a number of years. 

    The calculation is made in two time periods during which different interest rates applied: 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2006 and 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2018. The reason interest is calculated differently for these two periods is due to the change in the Water Resale Order in 2006, which changes how this should be done.

    From 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2006, interest is added at the Bank of England base rate plus one per cent applied from the date of the charge to the date the refund was applied to your rent account (17 January 2021). For the period from 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2018 interest has been added at twice the average Bank of England base rate for the period from when the charge was made to when the refund was applied to your rent account.

  • I am next of kin for a former tenant can I claim a refund?

    If your relative passed away recently you may be entitled to make a claim if the estate is still in the process of being administered.

  • I was claiming Housing Benefit during this time, will I still get a refund?

    Water charges were not eligible for Housing Benefit so this will not affect your refund.

  • What if I have moved?

    If you are no longer a Dacorum Borough Council tenant then you may be entitled to a refund as a former tenant and you will be able to claim via the online form on this web page.

    If you are a current Dacorum Borough Council tenant and also had a DBC tenancy between 2001 and 2018 you may be entitled to a refund on your current and former tenancies.

  • My neighbour has had a refund why haven’t I?

    You will only be entitled to a refund if you were a Dacorum Borough Council tenant between 2001 and 2018 and paid water charges during this time.

  • Has everyone received the same amount?

    The refund is dependent on how long you paid water charges for during your tenancy period.