Tenants who were overcharged on their water bill could be entitled to a pot of £4.3million – but the council is sitting on the money.

Waltham Forest Council is fighting a high court ruling made in 2016 and says it is “seeking legal advice.”

Two years ago, council house tenant Kim Jones took Southwark Council to court for overcharging her and 37,000 other council house tenants for their water, provided to the council by Thames Water.

Ms Jones won and the High Court ruled that Southwark Council’s actions were unlawful as reselling water for a profit is a breach of Water Resale Orders imposed by water regulators Ofwat in 2001.

According to Ms Jones’ lawyer in 2016, Thames Water confirmed it had similar arrangements with 69 other local authorities and housing associations throughout London and the South East, covering 375,000 households.

It has been estimated that council house tenants in the affected areas who have lived in their homes since 2001 will have been overcharged between £700 and £1,000 by their councils.

Despite criticising the ruling at first, Southwark Council has since started repaying its tenants and has announced it will not be appealing the High Court’s decision.

But Waltham Forest Council and other London councils are still fighting the ruling two years on and continue to spend tax payers’ money on legal advice.

In January this year, the BBC sent Freedom of Information requests to 93 London and South East councils and discovered more than 170,000 council tenants across the capital could be owed money for expensive water bills.

In response to that FoI, Waltham Forest Council and seven other London councils announced they had collectively made £33 million in the last six years from reduced water charges; savings that are yet to be passed on to council house tenants.

Waltham Forest Council also announced it had set aside £4.3 million to repay council house tenants should the 2016 High Court ruling stand.

Chingford resident Trevor Calver, who is angry about the situation, said: “According to the BBC article in January this year, the court case was decided in 2016, so I cannot understand why Waltham Forest council are awaiting a legal opinion regarding a possible appeal when the offending council are refunding their tenants.

“Perhaps Waltham Forest are just waiting to be taken to court by their residents.

“Also, the question is, does the £4.3 million include any possible interest and/or administration cost of contacting council house tenants who have moved away?”

A council spokesperson said: “We have seen legal advice that states the previous High Court decision in Jones v Southwark does not bind other authorities, and that it was arguably incorrectly decided.

“The council is working as part of a collective of local authorities to look at the issues arising from the decision. The collective is seeking legal advice on the appropriate way forward.”