Essex and Suffolk Water Debt

earthworks
earthworks Posts: 7 Forumite
edited 25 March 2015 at 2:03PM in Water bills
Hi everyone, First time on this site. I am in debt with ES Water but they have now passed on the debt to a debt recovery agency. The debt collectors are threatening to take my house if Ido not pay them the full amount. My question to you all is, Are they bluffing?
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Comments

  • macman
    macman Posts: 53,082 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Yes, because how can they 'take' your house? How much is the debt?
    A DCA is not a bailiff, they cannot seize anything without a judgement against you.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • samsmoot
    samsmoot Posts: 736 Forumite
    That's right, but you should still be concerned because if/when the debt collectors get no joy they will pass it back to the water company and they may make a Claim and get Judgement which could be enforced by way of a charge on your property.


    It would be wise to make some arrangement to pay but only after you are certain that you won't get help from the water co's Charitable Trust - it may be possible, if you qualify, to get the debt paid off by the trust.
  • earthworks
    earthworks Posts: 7 Forumite
    edited 26 March 2015 at 1:50PM
    samsmoot wrote: »
    That's right, but you should still be concerned because if/when the debt collectors get no joy they will pass it back to the water company and they may make a Claim and get Judgement which could be enforced by way of a charge on your property.


    It would be wise to make some arrangement to pay but only after you are certain that you won't get help from the water co's Charitable Trust - it may be possible, if you qualify, to get the debt paid off by the trust.
    That's very interesting. Thanks, I will look into that. I am trying to get ES to disconnect my water supply as the debt is mounting up year on year. As supermarket water gets cheaper,their water becomes more expensive..
  • JJ_Egan
    JJ_Egan Posts: 20,281 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Supermarket water is not cheap compared to tap water .
    Plus you will have to pay waste and drainage anyway .
  • samsmoot
    samsmoot Posts: 736 Forumite
    I'm not sure you can make them disconnect you if the premises are occupied.


    Your water company appears not to have an associated charitable trust from what I can see, but you can double check this by contacting them. The best help you are likely to get from them may be this:


    SupportPLUS Arrears
    If you have more than 2 years of arrears, you may eligible for our Support Plus scheme. The scheme runs for 2 years with a proportion of the historic debt written off quarterly if you continue to pay in line with their agreed payment schedule. This is a once only opportunity and we will maintain regular contact with you whilst you are on the scheme so that you can see how your debt is reducing.
    This scheme requires an independent debt advice provider, such as Stepchange to undertake an independent financial assessment to determine eligibility. To find out more please contact us on 0345 782 0111.


    https://www.eswater.co.uk/your-home/your-account/Difficulty-paying.aspx


    You may also want to have a read of their Managing Debt PDF:


    https://www.eswater.co.uk/_assets/documents/Managing_Debt_ESW_2014.pdf


    If you didn't own the property I could advise differently, but as you do I would recommend coming to an arrangement. Can you afford to pay off the debt at £3.65 per week? This is the amount you would pay if you were on benefit and it should be acceptable. If not accepted, and it if eventually goes to court, the judge may consider refusal of a reasonable offer of regular payments to clear the debt as being improper - you could also have a look at OFWAT's Debt Guidelines:


    https://www.ofwat.gov.uk/consumerissues/problemspayingbill/gud_pro_custdebt20070327.pdf


    which outlines how water companies should behave. It would be better if you could show you really couldn't offer more than £3.65 P.W.


    Looking at the very worst case scenario, a charge on your property would in practice mean that it couldn't be sold without the debt first being removed - or it may sell at a reduced price - I can look if you need to know. I don't know for sure whether or not a sale could be enforced in order to pay off the debt - but can also check this out if you need to know. In my experience it would be unlikely
  • I could have a water meter but apart from leaks, there is the problem of burst pipes in winter. I would have to leave the main tap running in really cold weather to protect the pipes and that would cancel out any savings. Supermarket water allows you to pay as you go and avoid large bills but if they hit me with other charges it may not be worth it. The payments I have made to the Debt company may not be reaching ES Water as I do not receive any paperwork from them I can't be sure they are not bogus. As ES Water do not reply to my letters about them, it is hard to tell..
  • samsmoot
    samsmoot Posts: 736 Forumite
    I would refuse to deal with the debt company, given the threats - which could amount to harassment. I'd send a signed for letter to the water company requesting an updated amount and I'd start paying them instead at £3.65 P.W.
  • samsmoot wrote: »
    I would refuse to deal with the debt company, given the threats - which could amount to harassment. I'd send a signed for letter to the water company requesting an updated amount and I'd start paying them instead at £3.65 P.W.
    Yes, I thihk that's probably the best solution. I will give it a try. It's not worth the risk of losing the house. I thank everyone who replied to my post and will keep the board posted.
  • earthworks
    earthworks Posts: 7 Forumite
    edited 30 March 2015 at 12:14PM
    Hello again. Another problem has arisen. ES Water have agreed to let me pay off the debt by instalments but as I am on reduced income I can't afford the £40 a month they are demanding. A few years back the DWP hit me with a large demand for their over-payment of benefit. They are deducting the repayments from my benefit so it will be difficult to meet ES Water's demands.
  • giraffe69
    giraffe69 Posts: 3,556 Forumite
    First Anniversary Photogenic Name Dropper First Post
    As supermarket water gets cheaper,their water becomes more expensive.

    If you believe chucking Tesco value water down the loo is cheaper than a supply from any company you want to check your figures carefully.

    There are two issues here. The first is the debt. If they are offering a plan then presumably the debt hounds have been called off? If you can't afford £40 per month then start playing them the suggested £3.65 per week i.e. about £15 per month and see how they react. You might find they view getting any money is welcome. Also follow the advice above about getting help.
    The second issue is going forward. Perhaps go for a meter. If you are the only one in the house then it is likely to be cheaper for you and most water companies will let you revert after a year if it is not cheaper (check whether your does). As for leaks you can check your meter against leakage. Typically water companies will be understanding about the first leak if there is one. In cold weather you shouldn't have to leave any taps running if your pipes and tank are properly lagged and this is not an expensive thing to do.
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