Paying for water without a meter
You either pay your water bill based on a fixed rate or on the basis of the amount of water you actually use, measured with a water meter.
This page explains how you are charged if you don’t have a water meter and what you can do if you have a query about how much you're charged.
Paying your water bill
If you pay for water without a meter, the water company expects payment in advance. If you think your bill is wrong, you should contact your water company. Before you do this, check:
it's in your name, especially if you've just moved and may be billed for water the last resident used
it's for the same time period that it's usually for and not for a longer time period than normal for some reason
it isn't estimated. Estimates are sometimes based on previous high water use
whether you're paying off towards money you owe on previous bills.
How is your water bill calculated?
If you don't have a water meter, you will pay an unmeasured charge. This is often made up of a standing charge and a charge that varies.
You can have an unmeasured charge based on one of these things:
a flat rate charge
Assessed Volume Charge
the rateable value of the property.
Flat rate charge
Some water companies will charge a flat rate for everyone, wherever they live and whatever property they live in.
Assessed Volume Charge
Assessed Volume Charge is usually based on the size and type of the property or the number of occupants. It can sometimes be offered instead of a meter, if you've asked for one and it's not possible to fit one at your property.
Charges based on the rateable value of the property
Before April 1990, every property in England and Wales was given a rateable value. This was based on how much the property could be let for. Some water bills are charged as a percentage of this rateable value. The amount varies from one water company to another.
Querying the rateable value of the property
You may want to query your water bill if it's based on the rateable value and your property has changed a lot since the value was set. You can't have the rateable value reassessed. However, you may be able to get a water meter installed instead, or have a fixed charged applied to the property. This would be based on council tax banding or on a notional rateable value.
Your property might have changed a lot if, for example, it used to be several flats and is now one house, or has been split up into smaller houses or flats.
As a rule of thumb, you could pay less on a meter than you do on the rateable value if you have fewer people in the property than bedrooms.
If you're renting
If you are thinking about getting a water meter, see Changing to a water meter.
If you want to complain about how much or the way you are charged for your water, see Complaining about your water company.
Other useful information
Page last reviewed on 20 February 2020