Responsibility for charges

Water charges are payable by the occupier of the premises to which Cambridge Water supplies water or such other person as may be made liable under the Water Industry Act (WIA) or any other Act of Parliament.

In the case of rental agreements the following applies:

  • If the landlord provides relevant occupier information and the occupier defaults on water payments the liability remains with the occupier.
  • If the landlord provides relevant occupier information and the occupier defaults on water and rent payments the liability remains with the occupier.
  • If the landlord does not provide relevant occupier information and the occupier defaults on water and rent payments the liability remains with the occupier.
  • Where the landlord notifies Cambridge Water that they will collect charges from the occupiers it will not deem the occupier liable for any debt incurred on the account.
  • If the premises are unoccupied the landlord is responsible for the charges.

A property is regarded as being vacant in the following circumstances:

  • Premises which are left unoccupied but are left with bedding, a desk or other furniture, so that they may be used as a dwelling, office or commercial premises.
  • Premises used for multiple occupation with shared facilities.
  • Premises used as holiday, student, hostel or other accommodation.
  • Premises used for short-term occupation or letting where the occupation of term of the tenancy is for less than six months.
  • Premises in respect of which renovation of building work is being undertaken.
  • Premises which are not normally regarded as being occupied such as cattle toughs, car parks etc.

In the case of vacant premises:

  • In metered properties - Non-occupation is proven by zero consumption on the meter and no volume charges will be made. The standing charge will still be payable.
  • In unmetered properties - The full Rateable Value charge is applicable, together with the standing charge. Customers who leave properties unoccupied are advised to opt for metered charges.

Use of unmetered water

The occupier or owner of any premises, which are not supplied with water, who habitually obtains for use in those premises unmetered water supplied by Cambridge Water, shall be liable to pay charges as if those premises were supplied with water.

Cambridge Water reserves the right to install a meter and to charge on this basis. It also reserves to right to charge for the installation of the meter. Water cannot be used for non-domestic purposes at properties where a meter has not been installed. This rule includes the use of automated watering devices and sprinklers.

A standpipe licence for third party operators is available for individuals or organisations that frequently need to use quantities of water in the course of their work (e.g. landscape gardeners, construction companies). See section on standpipes.

Two or more premises served by a single meter

Where the water is supplied to two or more premises in separate occupation and is measured by a bulk meter and there is no written agreement with Cambridge Water that the charges payable in respect of these premises are to be paid by a particular person, the liability of the occupiers shall be joint and several.

Multiple supplies to premises

Unless otherwise agreed with Cambridge Water, where premises have two or more separate supplies, the water and wastewater supply charges will be calculated separately and a separate standing charge will be payable for each supply.

Backdating of unbilled charges

Where the company discovers the customer has not been billed for all or part of their water and wastewater supply, it is the company’s policy to levy backdated charges.

Household customers - In all cases where no charges have previously been levied, charges for household customers will be levied in accordance with the Limitation Act 1980 (i.e. charges will be levied back up to six years from the date of discovery of the error), unless a shorter period of time is agreed by the company.

For metered household customers, back billing will include a volumetric charge as well as standing charges. Where no meter was in place or no readings for billing purposes were obtained, an average consumption figure per household of 150m3 per annum will be used, unless the customer provides evidence substantiating a different figure.

For unmetered household customers, back billing will include the rateable value charge as well as standing charges.

Non-household customers - In all cases where no charges have previously been levied, charges for non-household customers will be levied in accordance with the Limitation Act 1980 (i.e. charges will be levied back up to six years from the date of discovery of the error). If, as a result of a meter registering outside of the prescribed limits of accuracy, the customer has not been billed or has been under-billed the company will levy charges in accordance with The Water (Meters) Regulations 1988.

Water used for fire-fighting purposes

In accordance with Section 147 of the WIA 1991, no volumetric charge will be made in respect of water used for fire-fighting purposes or for the purpose of training persons for firefighting. Where a supply is solely for the purposes of fire-fighting, no standing charges are payable. In all other cases, standing charges will be payable at the rate appropriate for the meter size
as set out in the Schedule of Charges in our Charges Scheme.

New occupiers and moving house

A customer is required to give a minimum of two days notice when they cease to occupy premises. It is possible to do this by completing the moving house form, by writing to us or by calling 01223 706050.

If the customer fails to do so they could be liable to pay charges until whichever is the earliest of:

  • The next scheduled meter reading date.
  • The date the company is informed by a new occupier, or
  • 28 days from the date the customer informed the company

Where a customer who is liable to pay metered charges vacates the property without notifying the company, and a new occupier takes up residence without notifying the company, Cambridge Water will take a meter reading as soon as it becomes aware of the new occupier to establish average daily use. The average daily use will then be used to calculate charges due from the new occupier between the date they occupied the property and the date of the first meter reading taken by the company.

Customers moving out of the Cambridge Water area may be eligible for a refund on their water bill. Cambridge Water will send this if a forwarding address is supplied.

If a customer has an outstanding debt, and fails to notify Cambridge Water when moving house, the company will use all possible methods to find the new address.

Prospective occupiers

Prospective occupiers may contact Cambridge Water by phone, email or letter to request information on the existing charging basis for the property in question.

Metering new occupiers

Cambridge Water can elect to install a meter at an unmetered property when there is a change in occupier, as long as the new occupier has not been billed for unmetered charges. The company cannot elect to charge a new occupier by metered charges if one of the original occupiers still resides there.