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Thames Water overpayments

This page is to help those who may be eligible for a credit as a result of overpaid water charges.

What has happened?

Alongside many other London boroughs, Lewisham Council had a written agreement with Thames Water Utilities Ltd for the supply of water to its properties. Thames Water calculated each bill, and the Council passed the bill onto tenants and collected payment along with rent. Thames Water paid the Council a small commission to carry out this function, to account for the risk of non-collection of charges.

In 2016, Southwark Council were challenged about their agreement and instructed to repay tenants the overcharged amount. The position was clarified in late 2020 following a Court of Appeal case involving Kingston Council. As a result, we now know we unknowingly overcharged tenants by the amount of the commission Thames Water paid us.
The Council made an early decision to credit tenants who have overpaid these water charges, as we are committed to putting this situation right.

You may be eligible for a payment if you were a resident in a property managed by Lewisham Council, Lewisham Homes or Regenter B3, between 1 April 2001 and 31 March 2017 and you paid for your water alongside your rent.

Information for current tenants

Letters will be sent in late June/early July to you if you are eligible for a payment and you currently live in a property managed by Lewisham Homes or Regenter B3. We are calling this group of residents ‘current tenants’. The letter will set out the amount to be paid and the process for crediting your rent account with this amount.

The credits will apply either from 1 April 2001, or from the date you became a tenant, if that was after April 2001, until 31 March 2017. These dates are important because 1 April 2001 is the date the Thames Water agreement came into force and 31 March 2017 is the date that it ended. Payments will not be made to residents who became tenants after 31 March 2017, as that is the date that the agreement with Thames Water ended.

The credit will be applied to your rent account. If you have rent arrears, the credit will be used to repay those arrears. If your account is in credit, you may wish to claim the amount back by requesting a refund. Refund requests for accounts in arrears will not be processed.

Information for current leaseholders

We will contact current eligible leaseholders before making payments. This process will likely begin in autumn 2021. Payments will be made to current leaseholders if you bought your home under Right to Buy between 1 April 2001 and 31 March 2017. The payment will apply to the time when you were a tenant of the property only. This is because leaseholders become responsible for their own water payments from the date of purchase. For this same reason, current leaseholders who bought their home from another leaseholder will not be eligible for a payment.

Information for former tenants and former leaseholders

We do not hold current addresses for former tenants and leaseholders, so we have no direct way to contact you. We will be making an application form available via this website for eligible former tenants and leaseholders to apply for their payment. You will need to provide us with some details, including your former address and proof of identity, to ensure we can protect against fraudulent claims. Any outstanding rent arrears will be deducted from your payment.

If you would like to register to receive a notification when the application process is live, please email waterclaim@lewisham.gov.uk advising that you are a former tenant or leaseholder, and we will email you in due course.

If you were a tenant of a property which was transferred to either L&Q, Hyde, Clarion or Phoenix as a result of stock transfer, you may also be eligible for a payment. We are working with these organisations to make arrangements for payments to be made to those who are still tenants. All eligible former tenants should apply via the former tenant route outlined above.

Timetable for processing payments

Payments will be processed as quickly as possible. The current timeframes for processing refunds is as follows:

Phase Refunds to
Approximate timeframe
 1 Current residents of Lewisham Homes and RB3 Commencing July 2021
 2 Eligible current leaseholders Commencing Autumn 2021
 3 Current tenants of stock transfer organisations (Phoenix, Hyde, L&Q and Clarion)
Commencing Winter 2021
 4 Former tenants and eligible former leaseholders
Commencing beginning 2022