Landlords be aware of new water charge legislation coming into effect on 1st April 2017

Brightwater warns landlords of non-domestic properties to be aware of new water charge legislation coming into effect on 1st April 2017.

The Scottish Government is removing the current water charge exemption for vacant non-domestic properties from 1st April 2017. This means that it will be the responsibility of a property’s owner, or their appointed landlord, to pay water, sewerage and drainage charges whilst the property is vacant.

Rich Rankin, Managing Director of Scottish water company Brightwater said: “There are currently around 22,500 commercial premises classified as vacant in the Scottish water market so removal of the exemption could have a significant impact on the owners and landlords of these properties. They will now face charges for water services such as drainage and sewerage and in some cases these charges could be quite high.

“We want to warn them ahead of 1st April to be ready for changes to their water bills and not be caught out. In response to the new legislation Brightwater can offer landlords and property managers a bespoke ‘vacant property’ tariff from 1st April that will reduce the costs of water services for any period of time that their premises are left unoccupied. We want to reassure our customers that if the new charges apply to them we will do our best to help keep their bills as low as possible. We can also help identify ways their business become more water efficient resulting in more cost savings.”

We recommend owners of non-domestic properties check in advance with their Water and Sewerage Provider to understand how the new charges will impact on them

The charges are being introduced on the basis that vacant properties benefit from connection to water and sewerage services (particularly drainage) and should therefore pay for them. Revenue raised by this change will be used to maintain the current freeze in business charges, as announced by the Water Industry Commission for Scotland on 20 November 2014. It is expected to generate some £15 million a year in additional wholesale revenue for Scottish Water who own the water network in Scotland. Without such a move, it is estimated that charges would have to increase by 5% over the period to 2021.

Rich Rankin adds: “We recommend owners of non-domestic properties check in advance with their Water and Sewerage Provider to understand how the new charges will impact on them and how much they are likely to be charged. We want to bring the removal of this exemption to the attention of landlords of commercial properties and property management agencies as we believe they will be the ones who will be most affected by the new charges.”

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Further information on vacant charges is available at: