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Claiming compensation from water companies

This advice applies to England

Water companies must follow certain standards, set out by the industry regulator Ofwat about things like appointments, account queries and interruption to water supply. If a company doesn't stick to these standards, you may be entitled to compensation.

Read this page to find out more about the standards water companies must stick to and when you can claim compensation.

Standards the water companies must follow

All water companies must follow the guaranteed standards scheme set out by OFWAT. If a company doesn't meet these standards, you may be able to claim compensation.

The guaranteed standards scheme includes standards about how a water company must:

  • make and keep appointments
  • maintain the right water pressure
  • deal with interruptions to the supply
  • answer account queries and complaints.

The standards don’t apply in certain situations - for example, if the problem is caused by severe weather conditions, industrial action or someone else's actions.

Some companies have standards higher than the minimum required by OFWAT. To find out if your water company has a higher standard of service than the standard guarantees, check with the company or look on their website.

Some compensation will be paid automatically, either as a payment to you or as money credited to your water account. In other cases, you may have to make a claim to the water company, in writing, within three months of the incident.

If you owe money on your water bills, compensation  will always be credited to your account.

If you are a business customer, you will be paid compensation at a higher rate than the amounts paid to domestic customers.

Appointments

Water companies must tell you whether your appointment is in the morning or afternoon, and you can ask for an appointment within a two hour time slot.

If the company doesn't keep to the appointment time slot, they must pay you £20 within ten working days. If they don’t pay you on time you can claim an additional £10 payment within three months.

A company must also pay you if they cancel the appointment with less than 24 hours notice.

Compensation for failed appointments should be paid to you automatically.

Low water pressure

Water companies should usually supply water at a minimum of seven metres static head, unless low pressure is due to drought or essential maintenance work.

If the pressure falls below this for an hour or more on at least two occasions in a 28 day period, you're entitled to a payment or credit of £25. Only one payment of £25 can be made in any one financial year. No payment will be made if the fall in pressure is due to industrial action or someone other than the water company.

The water company should pay you this compensation automatically. However, there will be times when it's not practical for the company to identify which customers have been affected. In this case, you will need to make a claim yourself by writing to the water company. You must do this within three months of the second occasion when the water pressure fell below the minimum standard, otherwise you will lose your right to compensation.

You should bear in mind that  low water pressure is sometimes caused by the need to  do work to your property such as replacing certain pipework, which you, and not the water company, are financially responsible for.

Account queries

If you write to your water company to query your account, the company must reply within ten working days.

If you write to your water company to ask for a different way of paying bills and the company doesn't agree to the request, they must tell you this within five working days.

If the company fails to meet these deadlines, you are entitled to compensation of £20.  The company should pay this automatically.

You aren’t entitled to compensation if you've:

  • changed your mind and no longer want the query to be dealt with
  • sent the query to a different address to the one advertised
  • sent a query that is frivolous or vexatious – this means queries which aren't entirely serious or  when you know there's no point in making a claim.

If you're not paid within ten working days, you can claim an additional £10 payment within three months.

Interruption to your water supply

Compensation can be paid if water company standards are not met when your water supply is interrupted for repairs or because of an emergency such as a burst pipe.

Compensation for emergency drought orders

Your water company must pay compensation if essential household water supplies are interrupted because of an emergency drought order. This is part of their licence conditions. This includes water supplies for things like:

  • cooking
  • washing
  • drinking
  • flushing the toilet.

It doesn't include things like watering the garden, car washing or filling a pool.

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