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Tavascarow

A question for the legal beagles

& a warning if you are thinking of having a water meter.
A guy I know lived in a remote cottage 0.5 to 1 mile from the nearest highway, where his water meter was located.
The local water authority have slapped him with a 4,000 water bill because there was a slight leak on the farmland (which he didn't own or have any written right of way over)200+ metres from his properties boundry.
Low income & not a hope of finding that sort of money he is now being threatened with legal action.
So for those of you who know your way around the legal maze if it was you how would you aproach this problem?
cab

Get him to the Citizens Advice Bureau asap!
Jonnyboy

Our water meter is placed where we were joined to the supply. The pipe runs down the side of a roadway for 10 metres before joining our property. the water board were very clear that we were responsible for everything after the meter.
Nick

You don't want legal. You want the inside track.

Behemoth? Wink
Behemoth

Water company responsibility stops at the boundary of the highway and private land. Beyond that it is your pipe, irrespective of who owns the land it runs under. Any leakage of that pipe is your responsibility. However most water companies will give a leakage allowance if this is the first time leak has been reported. Depending on their policies they may also offer some assistance with locating and repairing the leak. Others offer insurance schemes to cover the cost of repair.

I assumed he complained to the billing monkeys and got no where.
He should speacifically ask for information on a leakage allowance and supply pipe repair policy. If that is not forthcoming he should ask for details fo the complaints procedure and make a formal complaint. If that is not satisfactory he can ask for the complaint to be reviewed by senior management. if he's still not happy he can lodge a complaint with the watchdog CCWater.

All this should be on the relevant company's website. If you let me know which one I can go ferreting.
Treacodactyl

Re: A question for the legal beagles

Tavascarow wrote:
which he didn't own or have any written right of way over


Are you sure he doesn't have any right of way? I own some land and there's a clause in my title that says I must allow reasonable access to some water pipes. Even if that's not the case there's a method where you can apply for access, I'm sure details were posted up here a while back.

Edit to add. This is an example of why I'd always read such a meter on a very frequent basis.
Behemoth

Re: A question for the legal beagles

Tavascarow wrote:
slapped him with a 4,000 water bill because there was a slight leak


this bill represents about 2500m3 of water which is roughly 5 to 7 years of family domestic use. If he's on his own it's about 10 years use. It's not slight. This assumes it's water and sewage charge that are paid. If it's water only it's roughly 20 years use.

Another thing he should do is look at rpevious consumptiona nd see is this has been rising steadily or a suddel leap. Also when was the meter last read before the leak became evident. Meters should be read a minimum of once a year, preferably twice. If a reading hasn't been taken for a long time this obviously has limited his ability to get the leak repaired and minimise the impact on his bill.
Behemoth

Here's the link to South West Water's code of practice on leakage:

http://www.southwestwater.co.uk/media/pdf/0/q/Code_of_Practice_-_Leakage_for_Domestic_customers.pdf

"Leak allowances for customers paying metered charges.

If you have a water meter, you are responsible for all of the consumption registered on the meter, even if the consumption is higher than usual because of a leak on your service pipe. Therefore,
you will be paying for water which is wasted by leakage from your pipework.

However, the first time you have a leak on your underground private service pipe we will grant you an allowance for both the water and sewerage elements of your bill so that you do not pay any more than you usually pay. To qualify for an allowance the leak must be stopped by replacing your service pipe, or repairing the leak, within 30 days of receiving a notice from us suggesting that you might have a leak or receiving a bill showing higher than
normal water use (which should cause you to check for a leak).

Allowances will only be backdated over the last two scheduled meter readings. If a leak has been running for longer than that period, we will only provide an allowance for the water lost during the last two meter reading periods. This includes restricting allowances for sewerage charges to the same timescales."

They will contribute 250 to replacing the pipe or 100 to the repair.
Behemoth

If he's been threatened with legal action cos the bill has been outstanding for some time, he'll be outside the timeframe for getting the contribution to the repair costs. If the quibble about this they should be able to demonstrate that he was informed of the leakage allowance as soon as the leak became apparent. A good company should have noticed the spike in consumption and contacted him and offered this information straight away.
Tavascarow

Thanks Behemoth.
I will point him to this thread & he can see for himself.
Your information should be very useful.
Treac he was a tennant in the property not owner.
The owner was the said farmer who also owns the land the pipe ran through.
Dont know if this makes a difference or not.
stumbling goat

the fact that the pipe runs through or under the landlords land might be worth noting if the pipe is leaking due to damage maybe caused inadvertently by the farmer?

a friend of mine had a similar situation with a water company when they notified him that after several months his consumption was very high. he then discovered the leak. he complained that the water co should have noticed the increase in consumption and notified him earlier and they agreed to pay something towards his repair costs.

sg
Behemoth

If he's a tennant responsibility for repair and maintenance of the pipe should rest with the landlord unless his tennacy says otherwise. If the landlord refuses to repair it the water company can serve notice on him to get it done or do it themselves and recharge him. The water bill however is the responsibility of the customer.

If the bill has built up due to delays on the part of the landlord i'd get down to the CAB straight away. Also, the water company would need to be informed that it isn't a straight forward and I'd expect them to suspend any further action for now while the situation was clarified. If this has been done but they are ploughing on with legal action, make a formal copmplaint to south West Water:

http://www.southwestwater.co.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1313

and send a copy to CCWater.

"For complaints about South West Water please contact our Exeter Office at:

First Floor, Broadwalk House, Southernhay West, Exeter EX1 1TS.
Tel: 01392 428 028. Fax: 01392 428 010. Lo-call: 0845 795 9059.
Office hours: 8.30 - 16.30 Mon-Fri.

e-mail address:- southwest@ccwater.org.uk"
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