Water resale

Rules came into force on 1 April 2001 to protect people who buy their water or sewerage services from another person or company instead of directly from a water or sewerage company. This is known as water resale.

The rules about water resale charges may apply to you and your property if:

  • it is your main home
  • you do not buy water or sewerage services directly from an appointed water company
  • the person you buy water and sewerage services from (your ‘reseller’) supplies you with water or sewerage services that they have been supplied with by an appointed water company

If you buy water in this way you are known as a ‘purchaser’.

Maximum resale price

The maximum resale price is the most anyone can charge another person for supplying water or sewerage services that they have bought from a water or sewerage company.

The maximum resale price does not apply to holiday lets, second homes, commercial customers or private supplies, and it has only applied since 1 April 2001.

We decide how a maximum resale price should be worked out. Anybody reselling water or sewerage services should charge no more than the amount they are charged by the company. They are also allowed to make a reasonable administration charge.

Calculating water resale prices

The ‘Water resale order ‘ outlines our rules which determine how much you should pay for your water. The rules depend on whether water meters are installed. Your reseller should tell you how they have worked out your bill.

If you pay for your water as part of your rent or pitch fee, your re-seller should show you how much your water charges are so that you know how much you are paying.

If no purchasers are metered

The water reseller must charge for water in one of the following six ways:

    1. split equally between the purchasers, or in proportion to:
    2. the number of people in each property
    3. the rateable value of each property
    4. the total floor space of each property
    5. the number of bedrooms in each property
    6. half the bill according to method 1 (split equally between purchasers) and the other half of the bill according to any one of methods 2-5

If your reseller shares the water supply ,they must pay their share of the total bill in line with the rules set out above.

The reseller can charge you only for the period you have lived in that property.

If your reseller charges you more than the average bill in your region, they must show that they worked out your bill using one of these methods.

If all purchasers are metered

If all the purchasers are metered, your reseller must:

  • charge each purchaser the same amount for each cubic metre as they pay the water company, and
  • share the cost of the standing charge they pay the company equally between all purchasers.

If some purchasers are metered and some are unmetered

If some purchasers are metered, the reseller must work out the charges for metered purchasers first and subtract these from the total bill. They must then work out the charges for the unmetered purchasers using one of the six rules above.

Administration charge

Anyone selling water or sewerage services is entitled to make a charge for reasonable administration costs and maintaining meters. Resellers can charge purchasers without a meter about £5 a year and purchasers with a meter £10 a year.

The administration charge applies to each purchaser, not each occupant.

What should I do if I think I am being charged too much?

First check whether your bill is higher than the average household bill in your area. If your bill seems higher than the average, or higher than you think it should be, ask your reseller how they have worked it out. You may need to ask some, or all, of the following questions.

  • What is the total bill, standing charge and amount for each cubic metre or other charge the reseller pays to the water or sewerage company?
  • How has the total bill been shared between different purchasers (for example, by rateable value, floor space, equal shares, or metered use)?
  • What is the total number of purchasers who have been charged?
  • What are the details of rateable values, floor space and so on (if you are not on a meter)?
  • What is the metered consumption of water for your own home (if you have a meter)?
  • Does the bill include a charge for repairs or maintaining water or sewerage pipes (not covered by the maximum resale price)?

Using the information that the reseller gives you, check whether your bill has been worked out in line with the rules.

You may need advice from your solicitor or local Citizens Advice Bureau on enforcing the maximum resale price.

For more information, contact us.

Enforcing the maximum resale price

If resellers charge more than the maximum resale price, their purchasers can take them to the small claims court to recover the money as well as interest.

The small claims court

You can use the small claims court to claim any amount below £5,000. The small claims court is based at your local county court. If you want to claim, you will need to fill in a claims form explaining what you are claiming and who you are making the claim against. This form is available at the county court. A judge will hear your case and there is no need for a solicitor. If you win the case, the reseller will have to pay you the money you claimed. There are procedures in place to make sure that they pay you.

For more details on the small claims court, read gov.uk or Citizens Advice Bureau.