Verification of Service: Are my Unmetered Household charges correct?

The vast majority of domestic properties in Scotland are liable for unmetered water and waste water charges as set out by Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002.

These charges form part of an occupier’s Council Tax bill which is collected by the Councils on behalf of Scottish Water.

Customers do have the option of having a domestic water meter installed on their supply if they wish to be charged according to how much water they use. Domestic customers with water meters are billed directly by Scottish Water rather than by their Council. For further information on water meters click here.

If the household property is in charge it should be in one of the following ways:

  • Unmetered based on Council Tax band – billed via your local Council and with discounts, reductions and exemptions applied where appropriate.
  • Metered - billed directly via Scottish Water.  Discounts, reductions and exemptions do not apply to metered charges. 
 

Water

If your house is connected to Scottish Water water mains, or if you can use water that has come from Scottish Water mains, then you have a water service. Household water charges will apply unless you are exempt from charges or if somebody else is being charged for your water supply.

Waste Water

If your house is connected to Scottish Water sewers, or if sewage or rainwater from your house drains into Scottish Water sewers, then you have a waste water service.  Household waste water charges will apply unless you are exempt from charges or somebody else is being charged for your waste water services.

There are some scenarios, such as occupancy by students or vacancy, which may result in a domestic property being exempt from charges. These exemptions are applied by local Councils - contact your local Council to enquire about your eligibility.

If you are certain that a change needs to be made then you can make an application to Scottish Water to have this investigated. We call this the Verification of Service process.  You can submit an application here.

Often Scottish Water is able to resolve your query by reviewing the information available. If this is not possible then we may need to arrange a site visit to confirm how your property is connected for water and waste.

If Scottish Water determines that a change to your charges is required then we will make your local council aware and when we consider that the change should be effective from.

When Scottish Water advises a council that a charge needs to be removed/added, it will be the Council that gets in touch with you regarding any changes to your account.
The most common situation would be where the water you are using is recorded on a water meter along with water used in other properties.  In these situations one party may receive a bill for all of the water use (and sewage if this applies).  That party may then charge the occupiers of the other premises their share of the total bill.  

A typical example could be a metered water supply to a farm where the meter also records the water used in farm cottages.  In this simple case the farm cottages have a water supply from Scottish Water but should not be charged household charges by Scottish Water or the Council because the farmer is being charged for their water (and sewage) use.  The farmer may recover a portion of the bill from the occupiers of the cottages. The same would happen in a pub with flat above if the water supply is metered and the meter records the water used by both the pub and the flat.
 
If your property is not supplied with water from a connection to the public water supply then no household water charge should be applied. 

Houses that are not connected to the public water supply will generally have a water supply from a private natural spring, borehole or well.  You will also likely have in place some form of system for treating this water so it is safe for consumption.

Some properties may have a private water supply but also have a backup connected to the public supply. It is common in these circumstances for the connection to the public supply to be switched off and used only when required. In these cases the household water charge is still levied even though the water supply is not being used. If you would like this charge to be removed then you will need to apply for the backup supply to be permanently disconnected. Once permanently disconnected the household water charge can be removed.

For further information on the permanent disconnection process please contact our customer helpline on 0800 0778778.

If waste water from your house does not drain to the public sewers then household waste water charge should not be applied. 

Houses that are not connected to public sewers normally have a septic tank to collect and treat foul waste and some form of soakaway to deal with the outfall from the tank and any surface water. 

If you think that you are being wrongly billed for waste water charges, you can apply to have this reviewed. To support your application to have this charge removed it is very helpful if you can provide evidence of the septic tank’s registration with SEPA.  If your tank is not already registered, you can register it by visiting SEPA’s website.

It is possible for your property to have a septic tank but still be liable for household waste water charges. In some cases the outfall of the septic tank may be connected to the public sewer or rainwater from the property drains to the public sewer.  

Any connection to the public sewer will result in household waste water charge being levied. These services would need to be disconnected before Scottish Water can inform the Council to remove the charge.  

 

The property will need to be permanently disconnected from the water supply for the charges to be removed. For further information on the permanent disconnection process please contact our customer helpline on 0800 0778778.

If the dwelling in question is on a shared connection and can therefore not be permanently disconnected, charges can be removed after all fittings and internal pipework have been removed and this has been verified by Scottish Water.

It is possible that your household charges from your local Council or Scottish Water should be removed. When the water consumption from a domestic dwelling is being recorded on a water meter for a commercial property, Scottish Water refers to the set up as a Shared Supply.

Shared Supply scenarios can often be quite complicated.

In most Shared Supply scenarios it is common for the commercial property to recover a portion of its bill from the occupier of the domestic property for its share of the consumption. Water Resale Rules set out how much the bill-payer is allowed to recover from other properties in this scenario. See appendix 4 of the Wholesale Scheme of Charges Part 1  for more details.

If consumption from a domestic property is being captured on a commercial water meter and the commercial property is applying Water Resale Rules, any domestic water charges also being billed by your local council or Scottish Water will be removed.

If the commercial property would rather be billed for only their own share of consumption, they can contact their Licensed Provider and ask for the supply set up to be reviewed. It is often possible to amend the supply arrangements so that the consumption from the domestic property is no longer being charged to the commercial property. In this scenario, there is no need to remove household charges billed by your local Council or Scottish Water. If no household charges were being billed via your local Council or by Scottish Water previously, these will start to be levied.

Some domestic properties may share a supply with a commercial property which is not metered. In this scenario the commercial property’s charges are what Scottish Water calls “unmeasured” and are usually based on the property’s Rateable Value. In this situation the household charges will remain as the unmeasured charge for the commercial property does not account for any of the domestic property’s usage.

The exception to this rule is if the property has an “Apportionment Note”.

The Scottish Assessors Association (SAA), where appropriate, may apply an Apportionment Note to a property.

To understand Apportionment Notes, we will first explain what is meant by Rateable Value.

Each property that is commercially rated by the SAA is assigned a Rateable Value. It is used to calculate the business rates that the owner or occupier of that property must pay to their local Council.

The process of assigning a Rateable Value is known as a 'valuation'. Assessors use different methods to calculate Rateable Values. For example, they might use information such as rent or floor space.

The Local Assessor may add an Apportionment Note to a commercial property which is also partly domestic. This allows for the rateable value of a property to be split between commercial and non-commercial parts. For example a bed & breakfast.

The property may have a total Rateable Value of £5,000. One of the rooms in the property may be used by the owners as their domestic residence. The SAA may provide an Apportionment Note so that the commercial element of the property is assigned £4,500 of the value and the other £500 is assigned to the domestic element.

If all consumption from the property is being captured by a commercial water meter then no domestic charges should be levied.

If the commercial property is not metered and is instead billed based on “Unmeasured charges”, the domestic charges should be removed as far back as 01/04/2018.

Prior to 01/04/2018 the water and waste charges to the commercial element of the property may have been derived from the apportioned Rateable Value of the commercial element only (i.e. the £4,500 in the example above).

From 01/04/2018 onward the charges have been derived from the total Rateable value of the commercial and non-commercial parts of the property (i.e. the £5,000 in the example above). This means that prior to 01/04/2018 it is correct for the domestic charges to be levied.

Provided you are up to date with your Council Tax payments, you would normally expect to get a refund.  If you are not up to date the Council may use the monies to reduce your debt. 

When Scottish Water advises a Council that a charge needs to be removed, Scottish Water will get in touch with you regarding any changes to your account.

There is no need to contact Scottish Water in this situation. You may wish to consider contacting your local Assessors to get the property re-evaluated as a dwelling and given a Council Tax banding which will mean that the property will be liable for household water and waste charges rather than business charges. If you were the bill payer when the property was a business, you should get in touch with your Licensed Provider and ask to be entered into the Deregistration process. This is the process by which your commercial charges will be removed.

Not if you are billed for unmetered waste water charges via your local Council. The household waste water charge is a single combined tariff. As long as you have a live connection to the public sewer for foul sewage or for surface water, you are liable for the waste water charge.

If your surface water does not enter the public sewer you do have another option to explore.

Scottish Water offers the option to have your water supply measured by a domestic water meter. If you are charged on a metered supply, you will be billed directly via Scottish Water rather than via by your local Council. Waste water charges to metered customers include separate elements for foul sewage, property drainage and roads drainage. If your property’s drainage does not enter the public sewer, this part of the charge would not apply.

For further information on the domestic metering process please contact our customer helpline on 0800 0778778.

If your property has access to a supply which is connected to the public network then the property will be liable for that charge.

For example, if your property is connected via a private pipe to your neighbour’s water supply and your neighbours water supply comes from the public water supply; your property will be liable for unmetered water charges - unless somebody else if paying for the water you use.

Similarly, if your property is a caravan or similar dwelling with a water storage tank, if this tank is filled from a supply which is connected to the public water supply; your property will be liable for unmetered water charges - unless somebody else if paying for the water you use.