Water meter has never worked - back billing

I've lived in a flat which my parents have owned (bought from new) for about 6 years, which I lived in while at University and have continued to live in since. My parents pay the bills.

A couple of years ago I had a friend lodging with me but he's long since moved on. I recently noticed a letter addressed to him from the water company. I've opened it (with permission), as we thought it was strange for him to get a letter from the water company and it's water bill for about £350.

My friend was never to pay water bills and I wondered how they even got his name.

While delving into this I managed to find the water meter in a shared corridor of the apartment block and it's broken. It's reads no usage in 6 years! Nobody has ever raised this. I've checked with my parents and it turns out they've never received a water bill. My parents live in Scotland and water is in the council tax (the apartment is in England).

I've not contacted the water company yet but I'm concerned that my friend may end up with credit problems if I ignore this. Likewise if I tell them of the mix up my parents, who are retired, or me, who is on a low income wage with no real savings, will end up with a 6 year back-dated water bill of several thousand pounds that's going to cripple us.

I know I've used the water but surely the water company had a responsibility to tell us if the meter wasn't working. Surely they should take some responsibility ensuring we are billed correctly (even if they were estimating it).

Does anyone have any suggestion on how best to approach this issue?

Comments

  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Rampant Recycler
    Forumite
    Welcome to the forum.

    What steps did you, or your parents, take to register with the water company when you moved into the property?

    Why did your parents, or yourself, never query why you hadn't received water bills?

    New build properties often are left unoccupied for years - thousands in London - and unless the water company are informed of occupancy they don't know who to bill. Indeed water companies are often unaware that the property even exists.

    As it is a new build flat, it is possible that bills were sent to the builder/developer - and possibly paid?? These might have been for just the standing charge. It is also possible that the developer gave the name of your friend as the occupant.
    I know I've used the water but surely the water company had a responsibility to tell us if the meter wasn't working. Surely they should take some responsibility ensuring we are billed correctly

    Did they know you were the occupant?
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