Advice on Chargeable Value

Just after a bit of advice RE wording / rights when writing to our water supplier (Thames Water). We were sent an annual bill for April 20 - Mar 21 back in March that seemed outrageously high - £750 for a 2 bedroom flat. We are unmetered so contacted Thames Water and they said on the phone this seemed unusually high but the only thing we could do was to request installation of a Water meter. We asked our landlord who gave us the go ahead to ask Thames Water come out and assess if we could have one.
We know if we are not able to have one installed in the property, we will be moved onto an "assessed household charge" which will come to £319.20 per year. We requested an engineer to assess the viability of a water meter on the 31/03 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thames Water said they can't send out an engineer for at least 12 weeks. We were told that during this time we would need to continue paying the much higher bill in monthly instalments, but we haven't been sent an amended bill, and the person on the phone this time also agreed the first bill was far too high (but offered no solution).
Does anyone know where we stand in terms of rights in our current situation? We don't think it's fair to charge us such a high rate because they can't get an engineer out, and whilst we appreciate the nature of the pandemic, companies like this should be making allowances for customers who have been impacted by it. We are happy to pay a fair bill, but we don't feel like we have one or will even be able to get one soon.
We want to write to them to request that they backdate our bill to the lower "assessed household charge" for the three months they haven't sent an engineer to us - are we within our rights to do this? And does anyone have any advice on wording / rights we could use.
Any advice much appreciated!


  • freesha
    freesha Posts: 338
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    They should be charging you on the assessed charge while you wait for a meter fit.
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Rampant Recycler
    freesha said:
    They should be charging you on the assessed charge while you wait for a meter fit.

    I don't think that is correct; or at least there is no regulation to that effect.
    OP - welcome to the forum.
    For an unmetered property with charges based on the Rateable Value(RV) Thames water and yourself can calculate the 2020/21 bill exactly. You just need to look at the RV shown on your bill and Thames' schedule of charges. 
    Backdating a bill when a meter is installed, or an assessed charge is awarded, is a mater of policy rather than regulation and each water company seems to have a different policy. In the light of the delay caused by the Covid19 situation I think it will be pretty certain that Thames will backdate; if they don't you can take the matter up with the Consumer Council for Water.
    If you are awarded an assessed tariff it will be easy to backdate to the date you applied for a meter. If a meter is fitted it is trickier as they don't know how much water you would have used in the period before the meter was fitted. The usual method is to calculate(using meter readings) how much water you have used over a set period - say two weeks - and apply that pro-rata  to the whole  period from application date to fitting date.  They could make it simpler and backdate to application date and not charge anything for the period to the date of a meter being fitted!! 

  • Hi Cardew,
    Many thanks for your insight and detailed response. It sounds like I need to write a letter and hopefully they will use their judgement to give us a fair bill but will certainly contact Consumer Council if they don't come back with anything. Just very helpful to know where we stand legally and it sounds like whilst they don't have a legal right to do it, the implications of COVID should mean they give us a bit of leeway. 
    Off to write a letter!
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