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Wessex Water and compulsory water meters?

(20 Posts)
Idefix Fri 17-Mar-17 13:35:36

Yesterday I called Wessex water to inform them we would be reactivating our old account. Since buying our house we have lived in another country and had rented out the property.

I was told by the call handler that this would mean we would have to have a compulsory water meter fitted. I asked where was the documented and available for me to read and I was directed to the page below.

There was also another page saying the exact same thing that seems to have disappeared hmm.

When speaking to this call handler she was what I would describe as belligerent about it being mandatory and not optional. That it was fair to the company to have one etc. The conversation ended with a request that no engineer entered our property without our consent/presences.

I spent hours last night looking for information on government pages and ofwat. What I found was that in areas of high water stress the Secretary of State can ?authorise compulsory water meters. Wiltshire as far as I can see is not in such a category. No where could I find information on it being mandatory in my area.

I phoned again today and asked for definitive documentation regarding it being compulsory, the call handler was polite but unable to show me anything on the website that gave this information and did say that this was not acceptable. He went off for 10 minutes and told me that the legal impetus was in the water industry act. I had already read this and explained that it did not suggest this.

I was then told the water meter complaints department would be in touch and he would register my phone call as a complaint.

The company are it seems not being truthful or transparent I did say I understand that they have follow company policy when speaking to me but that it was immoral and unethical (probably the wrong terms) to not be able to back policies with legal documentation...ranting, sorry.

Now waiting for an email from them, requested no further telephone contact.

I know this isn't aibu? But am I?

If it is the law I won't be contesting it but really object to being treated like a unthinking dunce who won't notice anything approaching a legitimate rationale apart from it is one of the water boards targets.

prh47bridge Fri 17-Mar-17 16:04:35

According to Ofwat they can force you to have a meter. However, they can only use that meter for billing purposes if you consent or one of the following is true:

- you are the new occupier of a property
- you use an automatic watering device such as a sprinkler
- you automatically fill a swimming pool
- you have a power shower or an extra large bath
- you use a reverse osmosis water softening unit
- you live in a water stressed area

If none of the above applies they must continue to bill you as at present even if they install a meter.

Idefix Fri 17-Mar-17 17:00:26

Do you have a link for that prh?

If I continue not to consent will that mean they can't force me?

I would and do argue that we are not new occupiers but are reactivating our account as we owned the house prior to October 2016.

Apparently they won't bill me until the meter installed and I plan to argue against this for as long as they can't present me with compelling legislation.

Thank you for getting back to me, with regards to what you outlined is that applicable to all of England or just the Wessex area?

Idefix Fri 17-Mar-17 17:02:00

Doh just see you said ofwat, obviously missed this last night.

prh47bridge Fri 17-Mar-17 17:25:21

You can find the information on p19 of this document.

They can force you to have a meter regardless of your consent. Unless you fall into one of the categories I've listed they can't force you to accept being billed by meter.

Idefix Fri 17-Mar-17 19:00:48

Mmm looks like I will be made to have one even though I would argue that I am not a new occupier because we previously were paying the bill. I plan to go with that and see what happens.

I really don't understand why the water company have not got a link to this or are able to direct enquiries to this page. To me the lack of explicitly to this makes it terribly unclear. Having an aim is totally different to it mandatory etc.

Idefix Fri 17-Mar-17 19:01:28

Thank you for the link!

allypally45 Wed 17-May-17 12:33:36

Hi, we've just moved to the area and they are insisting we get a meter fitted too. Did you find a way of not paying the meter charge? We have a small holding so it will cripple us if we are metered!!

Penfold007 Wed 17-May-17 13:26:20

3. Can water companies insist on
the installation of water meters?
Water companies can install meters in properties, but cannot insist that
the existing householder pays for their water on that basis (by volume),
except in specified circumstances (known as prescribed conditions).
In practice, a water company in England can install a water meter and
charge on that basis, if the household customer:
• uses an automatic watering device (such as a garden sprinkler);
• automatically fill a swimming pool or pond;
• has a large bath;
• uses a reverse osmosis softening unit;
• has a power shower;
• is the new occupier of a property (provided an unmetered bill has
not already been sent to that occupier);18 or
• lives in an area which has been determined by the Secretary of
State to be an area of serious water stress and subject to a
metering programme as part of a plan to maintain secure water
House of Commons Library Number CBP 7342, 17 February 2016

You might be able to claim you've already had unmetered bills from them

Oblomov17 Wed 17-May-17 13:37:15

We had a phone call yesterday evening. Insisting we get one. We had to by 2020 apparently. My dh asked if it was mandatory. the woman said it was. Dh pushed her again and asked her if she was sure. He commented that was she really sure of her facts, because elderly or not so aware people might be bamboozled into agreeing to something that was not 'Mandatory' at all. the phone call ended.

<<Dh is a employee of a water company>> grin

allypally45 Wed 17-May-17 14:21:52

Thank you! We've just moved and I don't think we have had a bill but will double check.
I've said I won't give permission to install a meter but apparently they can do it outside of the property. I've raised a complaint with WW - but fear that won't make a lot of difference.
Apparently we get a letter from them in the next week, stating when meter will be installed.

Am I right in thinking that they can legally install the meter but cannot make us pay the metered charge is we want to pay the unmetered charge?

RedHelenB Wed 17-May-17 15:05:41

Well if you're watering a small freehold and you are a new owner I think you will be billed based on a water meter.

TheMacs Fri 30-Mar-18 14:28:28

Hi - i know this thread is a year out but was wondering how you all got on with your water meter installation? We are in a situation where we currently live overseas, we have have purchased a new home and currently awaiting for tenants to go in. However, we are returning back to this house as a family of 5 - we most certainly do not want a meter and have received confirmation from Wessex Water saying they will be installing one. I googled and found this info and correct me if i am wrong but it reads that we can convert back to being unmetered after two years if it proves we are worse off with a meter. Any info if anyone has been able to find a loop hole in not having one at all much appreciated.

prh47bridge Fri 30-Mar-18 19:05:53

You cannot refuse to have a meter. As you will be a new occupier you cannot stop the supplier from using it for billing. There are no loopholes. I think you will find that the 2 years only refers to customers who switch to a meter voluntarily.

PersianCatLady Tue 03-Apr-18 18:54:53

Section 144B Water Industry Act 1991

TheMacs Tue 03-Apr-18 19:39:02

PersianCatLady - are you saying for me to look at Section 144B Water Industry Act 1991 where it states I have to "give in" to a meter? I dont want to break any law in any such way, but on the other hand I don't like being told what to do with my own property where I know my water charges will be a lot higher and my unmetered water can remain how it is.

prh47bridge Tue 03-Apr-18 20:03:20

Section 144B sets out the circumstances in which a householder can refuse to be charged by meter. However, as you have purchased the house there will be a change of occupier. Under Section 144B (2)(b) the supplier can insist on using the meter for charging where there is a change of occupier and no charges have yet been demanded from the person who is now the consumer. So, whether you like it or not, I'm afraid you have no choice. You may be right that the charges will be higher but most households saw their bills go down when they moved to metered charges. But no, your unmetered water cannot remain how it is. I'm sorry but the law is very firmly on the water supplier's side.

PersianCatLady Tue 03-Apr-18 20:08:08

PersianCatLady - are you saying for me to look at Section 144B Water Industry Act 1991

PersianCatLady Tue 03-Apr-18 20:12:17

This document explains about water meters -

PersianCatLady Tue 03-Apr-18 20:15:23

Correct me if i am wrong but it reads that we can convert back to being unmetered after two years if it proves we are worse off with a meter
That doesn't apply to households that get a compulsory water meter.

It applies to people who choose to have a meter fitted voluntarily.

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