Southwark Council has said that cheques will soon be in the post for former housing tenants waiting for their Thames Water bill refunds.
The authority was forced to find £28.6m to refund 74,000 current and former tenants who were over-charged on water-services bills between April 1, 2001, and July 28, 2013.
It followed a legal challenge to the council’s relationship with Thames Water, whereby it used to collect water bills from tenants on the company’s behalf.
But a high court judge gave a verdict in March that the council had acted illegally by including administration costs in the bills sent to tenants, and keeping the costs it received as profit.
Councillor Stephanie Cryan, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We have now issued 23,500 cheques to current council tenants, and payments to tenant management organisations to be passed on to their 2,296 affected tenants. We are now dealing with more complex cases involving current tenants, and refunds for former tenants will be made later this month.
“We understand that many people are eager to receive their refund, but the huge volume of refunds that the council is making to tenants and former tenants means that we have had to issue them in stages.
“We’re grateful to everyone involved for their patience while we carefully manage this process.”
A report produced by Southwark stated that 43,358 former tenants were eligible to receive payments. The figures it produced suggested that anyone who was tenant throughout the 2001-2013 period would be entitled to £550, while for former tenants the average repayment would be £265.
Last week the News was contacted by former tenant Eileen Anderson, 62, who said she was told several times that her refund was being delayed.
Eileen, a former resident of Clifton Way in Peckham, said: “I rang up before and was told they were going to start repaying ex-tenants in August. But August became September, and then came October.
“They told me before they couldn’t start sending out cheques because there were issues with people who had changed names, or because former tenants had died and they were trying to track down relatives.
“If I owed Southwark money they would be on me like a tonne of bricks.”