Questions of Cash: I moved out but it didn't stop flow of water bills

 

Q. I rented a house from August 2008 to August 2009, paying rent and all bills to the end of August 2009. The house was rented from Real Properties (Doncaster) Ltd, whose registered office was in Retford, Nottinghamshire. This company has since gone into liquidation.

Unfortunately, the landlord apparently ignored all letters from Anglian Water asking for the name of the person responsible for paying the water bill for the period from September 2009. The property was in a very poor state of repair and I believe that extensive improvement work began after I vacated the property, but was not completed prior to the company going into administration. I also believe that the property is still unoccupied.

I am now being pursued by Advantis debt collectors, asking me to pay the water bill for the period from September 2009 to the present day. At their request, I have provided evidence of the addresses I have lived in from that time. Anglian Water must be able to confirm these addresses, as I have paid its water bills for these addresses. Surely, responsibility for water bills passes back to the landlord once the tenant has moved out. CG, Doncaster.

A. The Companies House register confirms that Real Properties (Doncaster) Ltd was dissolved in October last year. Consequently we took the matter up with Anglian Water. A spokesman said: "Our debt collection agency contacted [the reader] as she was still listed as the bill payer at the address until very recently. Following the query from The Independent however, an investigation has confirmed that she did indeed move out in 2009. Clearly, she is not liable for the arrears as she was not living at the address. We have now spoken to the collection agency and [the reader] should not have any further contact from them." Anglian Water apologises for the requests for payment that were sent to you.

Q. We recently had a new gas boiler installed by our usual gas fitter, who is fully certificated to carry out gas installations and whose workmanship is excellent. He purchased for us a new Baxi Potterton boiler from Plumb Centre and fitted it at a cost, including parts, of £1,750. The boiler developed a major leak within days and Plumb Centre changed it for another. The second boiler leaked in a similar way.

My supplier persuaded Baxi's engineer to attend our house, who confirmed that the heat exchanger, the core of the boiler, was leaking. New components have been ordered, but after the same failure with two boilers, I am not convinced that these boilers are of adequate quality.

I wrote to Baxi, arguing that the quality was unacceptable, but I have not received a reply to my letter, nor has our gas fitter received replies to the emails of complaint that he sent to Baxi. Our fitter and ourselves have been inconvenienced and we expected more of a premium priced product. DH, West Midlands.

A. We put your complaint to Baxi. Its managing director for domestic boilers, Andrew Keating, responded: "The heat exchanger used in the Potterton Apollo is a highly reliable product. It is extremely unusual for a heat exchanger of this type to have failed. We are very keen to examine both the heat exchangers and installation on site to see if we can determine what has caused the system failure. Our own engineers were on site to investigate and resolve the problem.

We are providing [the reader] with a five-year warranty, free of charge, which is three years more than the standard two-year warranty that comes with the Potterton Apollo … We would like to stress that we take the quality and reliability of our products extremely seriously and will do all we can to ensure that this matter is resolved." He added the company has no record of your letter being received and that action was taken in response to your fitter's emails to the company.

Q. On 29 December, articles by Simon Read and Rob Griffin considered the transfer of assets by husbands and wives to the one with a lower or non-rate of income tax. Where this involves transferring the ownership of shares, should this be done by advising the registrar of the company? What is the situation on fixed-rate cash ISAs? Can the tax-free concession be transferred to the spouse? What is the situation for anyone having a form R85 savings if the instruction is terminated and does income tax then only apply from that date onwards in the tax year? JL, by email.

A. Mark Giddens, the head of private-client services at accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, said: "On the assumption that the shares are not held through a nominee – for example, where they are held as part of a managed portfolio – the simplest way to effect a transfer from husband to wife (or vice-versa) will be via the registrar for the company concerned. The full name of an ISA is an Individual Savings Account and as the name implies, this can be held only by the individual. Monies can be withdrawn and transferred to a husband or wife for them to invest, but that investment will count towards their personal ISA allowance.

Regarding the form R85, if the form is withdrawn and the instruction to pay interest gross terminated, you can expect the bank or building society to deduct tax from all future interest credits. Note that it is your responsibility to monitor your tax position.

If your untaxed income for the tax year in question is not fully covered by your personal allowance, you should advise HM Revenue & Customs." (A form R85 notifies a bank or building society that the account holder is not liable for tax on the interest paid. Where a person's income goes up, above their annual tax-free allowance, they have a responsibility to notify HMRC of this change. A separate R85 must be completed for each bank and building society with which a person holds an account.)

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