Dealing with household water arrears

If you don’t pay your bill or fall behind with payments, you may face being in water arrears. As soon as you realise you’re having difficulties, get in touch with your water supplier.

Your supplier can’t disconnect you if you owe them money, but they could take you to court if you don’t pay. Working out what you can afford will avoid the stress and expense of going to court if you fall into arrears.

Water is an ongoing bill and vital to your household so it needs to feature in your outgoings budget. If you need help preparing a budget, ask our friendly team.

Some water companies may look to disconnect a property if they think it’s empty. This is why it’s important to stay in touch with your supplier – ignoring their letters may result in them thinking that nobody is in the property.

I’m struggling to pay my water bill…

There are usually several ways to pay your water bill:

  • Clear the whole amount in one lump sum
  • Pay your bill by direct debit
  • Check with your supplier about weekly or fortnightly payment schedules.
  • If you’ve already fallen into arrears, start by talking to your supplier. Make a reasonable offer of repayment based on your budget – we can help you work out what you can afford.

    What action will my supplier take?

    When you first miss a payment, you’ll receive a reminder. If you still don’t pay, your supplier usually sends you a final notice with seven days to pay. Sometimes they might also call you.

    Can the water company disconnect my supply?

    Although your supplier cannot turn off your domestic water supply, they may take you to court to get you to repay the debt.

    I have a water meter

    In this case, it’s likely that your supplier estimates your usage based on the previous year. Let them know if your circumstances have changed.

    If you’re on benefits, you may be able to benefit from WaterSure. It’s also worth contacting the Department for Work and Pensions to see if money can be taken from your benefit payments to cover both your water bill and arrears.

    What about if I rent my property?

    Private tenants cannot be disconnected if their landlord is responsible and has not paid the bill. Many water authorities operate Charitable Trusts and you may qualify for help in paying off the water bill.

    Water charges are based upon the value of the property – you may be able to challenge the value in an attempt to reduce your bill. Single occupiers may find a water meter dramatically reduces the bill, but do seek advice.

    Is there any other help I can get?

    This depends on your circumstances and your supplier.

    Many water companies have schemes, grants or special tariffs to help people who are struggling to pay and/or clear arrears, including Severn Trent so it’s definitely worth checking with your supplier.

    Many water suppliers have charitable trust funds, offering help with water and sewerage debt. Some may also help with other priority debts and even bankruptcy fees in certain situations.

    Depending on your supplier, you may be able to enter into a ‘restart scheme’. This is when you set up a regular payment plan and the payments you make are matched by the trust fund. If you keep up with the payments, the rest of your debt may be written off.

    Find out more about current water funds and trusts.

    Get free debt help

    If you are worried about your finances, or find yourself in the early stages of debt, we may be able to help you find a solution. Running your own business can be lonely, especially when you’re facing money problems – we’re here to support you, by giving you free debt advice and a clear idea of your options. All you need to do is call 0800 280 2816.