Investigation into whether premises are non-household premises and therefore eligible to be supplied by South West Water Business

Summary of case

This request for determination was regarding the eligibility of premises in respect of the business retail market and whether such premises can be served by a water supply and sewerage licensee.

Summary of Ofwat’s final decision

We determined that the principal use of the premises was as a business, with the premises used primarily as a holiday let. Based on this, we concluded that the premises is non-household and, as such, the proposed supply is in accordance with the retail licence held by South West Water Business, and will remain in the business retail market.

Wider lessons for companies and customers

In accordance with section 17E of the Water Industry Act 1991 (the Act), a water supply licensee, sewerage licensee or a potential customer of each may ask Ofwat to determine whether a proposed supply of water to, or proposed sewerage services for, the customer would be in accordance with what is authorised by the licensee’s licence.

When receiving a request for determination regarding eligibility, in the first instance, we expect the parties’ to have tried to resolve the issue prior to it being referred us. As part of this, we expect the company(s) and/or licensee(s) to gather all necessary information to enable them to make an informed decision. This includes gathering sufficient information from the Complainant to determine the eligibility of a premises such as its ownership, any arrangements between a resident and a business in terms of water use and payment for it, any difference in size between the residential area and the commercial area at the premises and the location of the water meter (where applicable).

We would encourage company(s) and/or licensee(s) to gather sufficient information to determine the eligibility of a premises, prior to a request for determination being submitted to Ofwat. Doing so may prevent the need for referral to Ofwat and provide a swifter outcome for the Complainant.

In this instance, we were satisfied that the parties’ had clearly exhausted negotiations prior to an appeal being submitted to us and had taken reasonable steps to try and resolve the issue.

Relevant powers

Section 17E of the Water Industry Act 1991

Relevant Ofwat guidance

Eligibility guidance on whether non-household customers in England and Wales are eligible to switch their retailer

Supplementary guidance on whether non-household customers in England and Wales are eligible to switch their retailer

Date opened

15 May 2019

Date closed

25 October 2019

Key documents

Final Determination

Similar cases

Appeal against a decision made by Affinity Water and Thames Water regarding the eligibility of a premises

Enquiries

If you have a query about this case, please contact: [email protected]

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