If you do not have a water meter, you are an unmetered customer. Your bill is not based on how much water you use.
Your bill is usually made up of a:
- fixed charge (or ‘standing charge’), which covers things like billing and customer service costs
- charge based on the rateable value of your home.
As an unmetered customer, you may save money on your bill if you switch to a water meter.
Your water company can advise you if you may be able to save money by switching to a meter. Some companies’ websites have on-line calculators. The Consumer Council for Water have a calculator on their website.
Some people have the same company for both water and sewerage services, while others have a different companies for water services and for sewerage services. In your bill, your sewerage company will include charges for three main sewerage services. These are for collecting and treating:
- foul sewage
- surface water drainage (run-off from rainwater that falls on your property)
- highway drainage (run-off from roads and pavements)
If you can demonstrate that you do not receive one of these services (apart from highway drainage), you may be entitled to a rebate on your bill.
Foul sewerage service
Your bill will include a charge for collecting and treating foul sewage. If you do not have a water meter, your company will usually use a fixed charge for sewerage based on the rateable value of your property. You can find further details on our unmetered foul sewerage service charges page.
If you have a cesspool or septic tank you may pay charges for tankered domestic waste instead of a foul sewerage charge.
Surface water drainage
Surface water drainage occurs when rainwater from your property drains into the sewer. Your company collects and treats this surface water. There is a charge for this service.
You will pay for surface water drainage in your bill in one of two ways, either through a:
- fee in the standing charge, or
- charge based on the rateable value of your property
If you can prove that the surface rainwater from your property does not drain into the public sewer, you may be entitled to a rebate on your bill from your sewerage company. Find out more about surface water drainage rebates.
Companies also treat water that falls onto the public roads and drains to the public sewers and collect a charge for this. The costs to the company of this highway drainage service are not related to the amount of water that you use or to the value or size of your property, so there is no correct way of recovering these costs.
Most household customers who do not have a water meter receive a bill each year that is based on the rateable value of their property.
Rateable Values were an assessment of the annual rental value of a property. They were used by local authorities for the General Rates system of local tax between 1967 and 1990. Assessments were made by the District Valuer’s office of the Inland Revenue and, at the time, households were able to appeal the Rateable Value of their property. Each local authority took a number of factors into account when it set rateable values. These included the size and general condition of the property and the availability of local services. We have no specific details about how properties were assessed and cannot tell you why similar properties have a different rateable value.
In 1990 the General Rates system was replaced by the Community Charge (Poll Tax) and the District Valuer’s office was disbanded. As a result, households could no longer appeal the Rateable Value of their property. Rateable values were last updated in 1990 so any changes to your property since then will not be reflected in your rateable value. All properties built since 1990 have a water meter installed.
Subsequently the Community Charge was replaced by the current Council Tax system which is based on banded values of properties. However, legislation prevents the use of the Council Tax register from being used for any other purpose. Therefore water companies cannot use Council Tax register to set water bills.
If your property has changed significantly – for example if you have had an extension built or knocked down part of the house – your rateable value may no longer be valid. Your water company may change your charge to a fixed or assessed charge.
If you have changed the use of the property and its use is now fully commercial, the water company may install a water meter.
Water companies are required by law to maintain a list of Rateable Values which they cannot amend, and which they must use for setting bills for unmetered customers.
More information on Rateable Values and how they are used to set bills can be found in this leaflet from CCWater.