£692 water bill for two months!!!

£692 water bill for two months!!!

6:31 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago 12

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In one of the properties I own the water is included in the services charges, which is very unusual but for the last 12 years hasn’t been a problem. Water Bill

If the usage is particularly high (over 30 cubic metres in a quarter) I would look to charge the tenants, otherwise I include the water charges in the rent as it makes my property more attractive than others on the same development. It also saves a lot of admin time. I’ve never had to charge tenants any extra.

On 26th September my  tenants reported a toilet wasn’t flushing properly and that they could hear water running. There were no visible signs of a leak causing any damage. My agent emailed on 27th to inform me of the issue and to advise they had booked in a contractor to take a look. I thought nothing more of it.

I authorised works to go ahead after receiving the contractors quote on 7th October 2016.  The job was completed on 29th October 2016 due to parts having to be ordered in and the contractor booking in with the tenants. The plumber was paid quickly as always.

The tenant then called again on 24th November to say the problem was still there. My agents contacted the original plumber who went back in to resolve the issue free of charge yesterday. At least I hope it is fixed this time!

It just so happens that the freehold management company, who are an excellent RTM, read the meter yesterday. They called me to advise that 192 cubic metres of water had been used compared to 25 the previous quarter. I was shocked to get the call but clearly they were concerned too. They calculated that the water usage bill for the quarter would be £692. OUCH !!!

Now the question is; who pays this bill?

My tenants are not happy because they’ve had to put up with the problem for two months. The water bill isn’t their problem because they reported the the issue with the toilet in a timely manner. I certainly don’t feel I can make them pay.

My agents acted acted in a timely fashion.

The plumber was a bit slow off the mark but I can’t see that I will get any money out of him!

So it appears that I’m going to have to take this one on the chin unless anybody has any suggestions.


Jonathan Clarke

8:08 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago

Hi Mark . I had similar . I found the water company surprisingly accommodating when approached. They took a view that these things happen in life and cant always be fixed overnight and they negotiated a very reasonable reduction . I think they have maybe have a contingency fund for this type of must be common event which OFWAT may oversee and insist upon. This type of bill would crucify some people and its only fair that there is some protection against that for the consumer.

Dr Rosalind Beck

9:51 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago

Hi Mark. I have received a bill for £615 for the last 6 months, when my bill is always around £300. I can't for the life of me figure out what happened. I've done a leak test and Welsh Water inspected as well. I've had the odd dodgy toilet double-flushing, but sorted it out quickly and have wracked my brains as to how the bill could double. I'm currently trying to negotiate, so will let you know how I get on - I may not get anywhere though, as I think they are more accommodating if there is a leak as with me it just looks like I suddenly had a zillion baths.

Paul Shears

9:57 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago

I had a far worse problem than this. My bill was for over £1650 for three months.
I won't bore you with the details but I stood my ground and told them to come up with a reasonable figure or take me to court.
The problem that the water company had was that a reasonable figure required someone to gather information, display some judgement and then have the authority to act on it.
Of course this sort of behaviour is almost unheard of these days in any walk of life but is career death in a large organisation.
After many months of repeated threats, the water company backed down and quietly cancelled the bill altogether.
I suspect that one benefit to them is to encourage the reporting of leaks.

Dr Rosalind Beck

10:00 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Shears" at "01/12/2016 - 09:57":

Hi Paul. Bore us with the details! - if you've got time. It might be helpful.

Robert M

10:01 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago

There must be a leak somewhere for that much usage. This is further supported by the fact that the tenants could hear running water. You need to locate the leak (it could be underground). Locating a leak is not an easy task, but there are specialist companies that can do this for you, and of course it is probably something that can be done via your buildings insurance policy (as can the remedial work once the leak is found).

I had this happen at one of my flats in Birmingham in 2014, it took quite a while to sort it all out (as they had to move asbestos floor tiles, so another specialist company came in to do this), but eventually it was all sorted out and paid for by the insurance company.

Laura Delow

10:05 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago

Had a similar problem in a property a few years back where excessive water bills arrived on the tenants doormat. I had Thames Water check for leaks & also British Gas check for the the same inside our boundary wall. BGas thought they found a leak under the pathway from the pavement to the front door and it was fixed (covered by a drains policy), but high meter readings continued. After further insisting with Thames Water (after many phone calls up the line) it was still highly unrealistic for my tenants to use the amount of water charged for, they at long last checked when the water meter was last changed & as it was old, they agreed to change the meter. After then monitoring the tenants usage for a few weeks to determine their ongoing average usage, as this had dramatically dropped they eventually agreed to a reduction / refund.

Robert M

10:08 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "01/12/2016 - 10:01":

On another occasion I had a leaking water pipe under the rear yard, and then Severn Trent Water came out, located the leak, and dug up the yard to fix the leak and then refilled the hole and put down some tarmac. - No leak at this address since then.

On a different occasion, I had a burst water pipe underground, under the kitchen floor of a ground floor flat, and the Council (freeholder of the site) arranged the repair and they managed to "sleeve" the burst pipe so that the kitchen floor did not need to be dug up.

Sudden increases in water usage indicate a leak. Sometimes it is just wrong billing, but it should always flag up the possibility of a leak somewhere.

Paul Shears

11:24 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dr Rosalind Beck" at "01/12/2016 - 10:00":

There was a leak underground 18 inches into the front edge of my drive.
There was no sign of this whatsoever at the surface.
This would have been obvious when the new water meter was installed but nobody noticed including the installer.
The property was empty when the meter was installed.
I checked the water meter when I got the first bill and reported it.
The problem was solved quite quickly although not without overcoming the use of initially faulty equipment.
The water board then wanted to charge me for the lot!
I told them that I would pat a "reasonable" bill based on the occupancy.
Large companies cannot do "reasonable", they only do "Process".

Steve Masters

11:25 AM, 1st December 2016, About 6 years ago

I received an extraordinarily high water bill at my own house a few years back, it turned out I had a leak in the underground main pipe. As the leak was on my property I was liable to pay for the repairs, which I did. I ask my water company to re-calculated my bill based on my normal usage history, which they did.

You should find that your water company is just happy that the leak is finally fixed and no more precious water is being wasted. The water meter has done it's job of saving water.

terry sullivan

11:54 AM, 3rd December 2016, About 6 years ago

in france--if water usage due to leak on your property--you pay in full or you are cut off--no excuses even considered

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