New water charge legislation to affect 22,500 vacant properties

Brightwater warns landlords of non-domestic properties to be aware of new water charge legislation 

New legislation, in which the Scottish Government is removing the current water charge exemption for vacant non-domestic properties from 1 April 2017, means that landlords and property owners will be responsible for paying water, sewerage and drainage charges while the property is vacant.
That’s the warning from Musselburgh-based water utility company Brightwater, which says around 22,500 vacant commercial premises could be affected.
Brightwater Managing Director Rich Rankin 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 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 can become more water efficient, resulting in more cost savings.”
Brightwater says 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’s 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.
Rankin added: “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.”
Brightwater supplies mains water for businesses throughout Scotland through a network of partners and brokers.
For more information about the new legislation, click here 
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