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Northumbrian Water issue

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Hi. My son moved into a house in 2012 - an ex-council house. His water use has steadily increased over the past few years to a point where his water bill is unaffordable. He lives alone.  In 2017 he was using about 154 litres for 6 months but it is now up to 450 litres for 6 months. His bill was £18 a month when he first moved, in 2012 but now they are asking for £57. I suspect that he has a leak but we can't find one in the house. The problem that I have is that I can't get this resolved. Northumbrian Water say that it's the council's problem but I have no idea why it would be. His water meter is located about 20 meters or so from his house and the pipe runs under private land belonging to a housing association. I think the leak is on the housing association land (possibly why Northumbrian Water say it's the councils problem). I asked if they can move the meter so that it's in the house, bypassing the leak and they said that I would have to pay for that. My question is, it is normal that water meters are positioned where the supply runs under private land. I've been trying to resolve this since August last year but just go round in circles. Thanks

Replies

  • JoannaAnnaJoannaAnna Forumite
    12 posts
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts
    I assume you mean he was using 154 L per day, rather than 154L over 6 months. If so, the increase to 450 L per day does sound a bit fishy. First thing to do is check that the bill is based on actual reads rather than estimates, and that the increase monthly amounts are definitely due to increased usage rather than missed payments or payments that were a bit too low.

    Secondly, have Northumbrian done any checks to see if a leak or shared supply could be to blame? They'd usually do this by looking at the meter while you turn your internal stop valve (isv) off (normally under the kitchen sink) and seeing if the dials keep moving. You could do this yourself if you know where the meter is. If your son is out for the day he could turn his ISV off and note the meter reading, then compare when he comes back.

    Ideally meters are located outside for ease of reading and will only go under the property they serve, however this isn't always possible. Technically, pipes going under a property are the responsibility of the property owner and they are liable for repair costs. In practice, if theres a leak under your front garden, water companies may repair it for you without charging you.

    If it seems that a leak between the meter and your sons ISV is to blame, you should discuss this with the water company. Best to do so in writing or keep notes of any itelephone nteractions so you've a record for later if needed.

    If the leak is under housing association ground and they won't play ball to help fix it, under guidance on treating customers fairly, your water company cant really turn around and say "tough, it's your problem" without making all reasonable efforts to help. CCW is there to escalate to if you exhaust their complaints process.
  • reefer37reefer37 Forumite
    57 posts
    10 Posts
    water companies are responsible for the pipework upto and including the meter. from here it is the owners responsibility. normally meters are fitted at point of entry on the highway boundary but in some cases it is where the nearest water mains are and that highway boundary. so Northumbrian water are right it would be your sons responsibility. however i would see if they can come out and confirm there is a leak and that it is not leaking on their outlet meter fittings and to make sure it is not in your sons house. also sometime they will repair as good will however this is not always the case. they should issue you with a waste notice if you have a leak and then your son can go to his insurance company to repair.
    you dont say but i assume your son owns the house. 
  • macmanmacman Forumite
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    So have you reported the leak to the HA? 
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • edited 23 February at 10:14AM
    DawnCrushDawnCrush Forumite
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    edited 23 February at 10:14AM
    Hi. My son moved into a house in 2012 - an ex-council house. His water use has steadily increased over the past few years to a point where his water bill is unaffordable. He lives alone.  In 2017 he was using about 154 litres for 6 months but it is now up to 450 litres for 6 months. His bill was £18 a month when he first moved, in 2012 but now they are asking for £57. I suspect that he has a leak but we can't find one in the house. The problem that I have is that I can't get this resolved. Northumbrian Water say that it's the council's problem but I have no idea why it would be. His water meter is located about 20 meters or so from his house and the pipe runs under private land belonging to a housing association. I think the leak is on the housing association land (possibly why Northumbrian Water say it's the councils problem). I asked if they can move the meter so that it's in the house, bypassing the leak and they said that I would have to pay for that. My question is, it is normal that water meters are positioned where the supply runs under private land. I've been trying to resolve this since August last year but just go round in circles. Thanks
    It's quite easy to establish if there is a leak after the meter.

    Turn off all water to the property using the stopcock, Check the meter does not record any usage. If it does, then you almost certainly have a leak between the meter and the stopcock.

    If the meter does not record any usage, turn the stop !!!!!! back on, but ensure no water is knowingly being used by turning off all taps, ensuring no toilet cistern is filling, no washing machine is in use, etc. If the meter then records usage, it will be being used or lost within at some point after the stopcock.

    Eitherway, as mentioned above, responsibilty as regards the water supplier is concerned stops at the water meter.

    Yes, it is quite usual for Northumbrian water meters to be located close to the property boundary, often in the public pavement bordering the property grounds.

    As this is an ex-council house, presumably now privately owned, access to the connected services should have been considered and allowed for in the conveyancing. Usually the agreement is that the the homeowner (or their agent) can access the service connection despite it being on another's land, but would be required to make good the neighbours land as required after any access work is carriied out.

  • JulieFelgateJulieFelgate Forumite
    3 posts
    First Post
    Thanks very much for all of your help. I did mean litres per day! I tried switching off the supply and checking the meter but had difficulty reading it as it is so far down the hole I struggled to read it. But after contacting NW they then sent me a text to rate their service and I scored it one. That led to contact and today someone from NW visited the property. He confirmed no leaks but agreed that the water use was excessive. He thinks that the neighbour is also plugged into the supply being ex-council houses as he couldn't find the neighbours pipe so essentially a shared supply hooked up to 'our' meter. It made a bit more sense but didn't explain the increase over the past few years if it was just the two houses. The neighbour is a lady who also lives alone. But her neighbour on the other side recently moved out and a family moved in so I started to think it may be a supply for three houses. Bottom line anyway is that they are going to fit me a meter inside the property free of charge. I'm not sure what they will do about the payments that we have made already. It'll be interesting to see. Thanks again everyone though. 
  • Important update! We have recently reviewed and updated our Forum Rules and FAQs. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the latest version.
  • JulieFelgateJulieFelgate Forumite
    3 posts
    First Post
    Well I read back what I wrote a few months ago. If only it was that easy! Zero progress.

    Today my son was chased for his £57 a month payment which he stopped paying. They now tell me this is our problem and termed it a 'third party dispute' due to the fact that we haven't been able to get the neighbour to agree to an appointment with Northumbrian Water. Does anyone else think this is bizarre? Can they really hold us responsible for neighbours water use because they won't answer the door?
  • JoannaAnnaJoannaAnna Forumite
    12 posts
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts
    What happened to them planning to fit an internal meter? What efforts have you or your son made to engage the neighbour in this process? Don't know if they're able to send engineers out at the moment with all the corona, but surely if they are, the neighbour is in all the time.
    Unless its shown that the high usage is not yours, your son is liable for usage at his property. They should make reasonable efforts to investigate but if your neighbour wont answer their calls or letters, theres not much they can do.
    If you havent been putting this in writing, now is probs the time to start
  • TalldaveTalldave Forumite
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    Shut the water off at the meter. They'll soon answer the door!
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