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I want to challenge my water bill!

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
8 replies 3.8K views
ShadyladyShadylady Forumite
3 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
I have recently discovered that I pay way more for my unmetered water supply than similar properties in my street. Severn Trent say they will repay overcharges on bills however on Live Chat I was told that no two properties are the same so I cannot be overcharged. I beg to differ as I'n on an estate of identical houses all built in the 1960s.

I know the bills are based on the house's rateable value as set sometime in 1990-ish so I asked what the rateable value of my property is on their records, and was told - 240. I asked '240 is the rateable value?' and was told yes. So how do I find out what other properties were rated at at the same time and what exactly is a rateable value of 240? Google can't help.

Just fyi I pay £72 per month, others pay £45.


  • JJ_EganJJ_Egan Forumite
    15.6K posts
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    As far as i am aware since 1990 you cannot have the rv assessed but can move to a water meter .
    See identical posts .

    Rateable value

    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.
  • Thank you. I know I can't have the rateable value changed, I want to challenge based on it being different to identical properties. And yes, I'm having a water meter installed next week!!
  • JJ_EganJJ_Egan Forumite
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    Time for challenge is long gone according to Ofwat.
    Suggest you contact them for advice .

    Your water company will have a list of RVs .
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    This has come up many times on MSE and other forums.

    Firstly Severn Trent had(and have) no input into the Rateable Value(RV) of your property. They simply use the RV given to them by the local council before April 1990.

    Your house was built in the 60's, but the last general revaluation of property in England was in 1972. It is probable that the discrepancy between all the houses in your street occurred during that revaluation.

    It is important to appreciate that the RV did not depend on the value of a property, but on the notional rent it could command at the time of this revaluation. Thus factors like a garage, central heating, modernisation of kitchen/bathroom, addition of conservatory/extension, size of garden, proximity to bus stop were all factors that would increase the rent it could command - and hence raise the RV.

    All houses having any of the improvements listed in the above paragraph should have notified the local council and had their RV re-assessed - but of course almost nobody did! So it is possible your house had improvements by 1972 which reflected in a higher RV than similar houses in your street. Many of those houses should have had a similar, or higher, RV than your house!

    As an aside I know of huge mansions with acres of grounds in the Severn Trent area that have a peppercorn RV way less than your £240 RV. This is because they were virtually derelict in 1972 and nobody would want to rent such a property. Now they are modernised and worth £millions and on the highest Council Tax banding but retain their 'peppercorn' RV for water charges purposes. A friend got full planning permission to knock down an little old cottage and built a large 7 bed house; and he retained the very low RV of the old cottage.

    Anyway I doubt if any council has retained any record the RV of properties in their area as they haven't been needed for 30 years. Even if they had retained such a list, they have no authority to change an RV.
  • Aha - so the 240 refers to ££s? I had no idea. Thanks for your help :-)
  • lincroft1710lincroft1710 Forumite
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    The Rateable Values used by water companies actually came into force on 1 April 1973 with the new Valuation List, but a 1974 Act of Parliament made very minor changes to some RVs effective from 1 April 1974. Also this Act forbade increases to RVs where the increase would be less than £30.

    Like most people in the VOA on the early 1970s I spent a lot of time helping in the preparation of the 1973 VL.
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    Shadylady wrote: »
    Aha - so the 240 refers to ££s? I had no idea. Thanks for your help :-)

    For properties on RV based water charges for each £1 of rateable value there is a charge of xxx pence for water and yyy for sewerage

    If you look at your bill you will see that the water charge is 240 times xxx pence and 240 times yyy pence for sewerage.

    These charges are shown here:
  • spirospiro Forumite
    6.3K posts
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    Get a water meter, within first 12 months you can change your mind and go back to rateable value.
    IT Consultant in the utilities industry specialising in the retail electricity market.

    4 Credit Card and 1 Loan PPI claims settled for £26k, 1 rejected (Opus).
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