Paying for water without a meter

This advice applies to Wales. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland

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

Check how you can pay your water bills if you’re renting.

Next steps

Other useful information

Check which water company supplies your area on the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) website.

Get more help with water issues on the CCW website.

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Page last reviewed on 20 February 2020