Paying bills for our homes and any other lines of credit we might have agreed to is part of our modern existence. From credit cards to utilities such as electricity, gas and water, when we sign up for these, we agree to pay out a certain amount each month.
But what happens if you go into the red with one of these? In short, you end up in debt, and owe the specified service more money than you would. While it can be a worrying thing to happen, more and more of us each year are suffering from it, so you’re not alone.
One of the big queries around debt is whether you can get it written off. We take a look at how you might be able to get your water debt written off.
If you end up missing a payment on your water bill, you’ll go into debt with your water provider. When this happens, you may start getting quite worried about what might happen to you. We’ll go through some of the questions that lots of people ask about water debt.
Can the water company cut you off?
The short answer is no. If you are a domestic, or non-business, customer, then water companies legally cannot disconnect your water supply. This applies even if you have a debt with them.
It gets a bit more complicated if you are a tenant though. If the account you have with the water company is in your name, then it can’t be disconnected. If the account is in your landlord’s name, then action will be taken against them.
Disconnection only really happens if the water company believes that the property is being used for business purposes, or if the property is empty.
What action can the water company take?
If you have water debt, then the company providing the service will want to get that money. They’ll likely send you several notices and reminders to pay up first of all, and then they may escalate it to phoning you and asking for payment.
If you have ignored their attempts to contact you and rectify the bill, the next step is for them to pass your debt on to a debt collection agency. This might mean that instead of owing the water company, you now owe the debt collection agency.
They could even take things one step further and apply to have a County Court Judgment taken out against you. This could result in bailiffs coming round to your home and taking goods to sell to meet the cost of your debt.
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Writing off your water debt
That’s the basics on what might happen if you don’t pay your water bill, or forget to pay it. But can your water debt be written off? There are a few bits and pieces of information about this that you should take into account, which we will go through to guide you on how you might be able to get your water debt written off.
Negotiate with your supplier
As soon as you receive notice that you’ve gone into the red on your water bill, you should get in touch with your supplier. If you contact them sooner rather than later, they might agree to a favourable repayment scheme where you agree to pay a set amount towards the debt each month.
Being active could pay off too – they may reduce the interest rate and remove any charges they might be tempted to charge you if you prove to be diligent and forthcoming in your repayments. They may even get your water debt written off after a time, so it’s worth contacting them as soon as you can.
Water trust funds
Lots of water companies run charitable funds, offering help with water debt and even bankruptcy claims in some situations. For instance, the Thames Water Trust Fund is available to anyone who is a customer with Thames Water and is struggling with their debts. Check to see if your water provider offers a similar fund.
There are also some companies who run ‘restart schemes’. These schemes involve you starting a regular payment plan and the payments you make end up being matched by the scheme. Keeping up with payments and you could end up with your water debt written off.
Another way you might be able to get your water debt written off is if you reach out to your water provider and offer to pay a lump sum. If you are under financial duress, you can often agree lucrative and useful deals with your service provider, and if you explain your financial situation to them, they might agree to freeze interest and charges.
Once this is done, you’ll have to accrue the necessary funds. This doesn’t have to be the whole sum of the debt, but you could offer them a lump pay-off sum to put towards your outstanding bill. This gesture often results in the water company getting your water debt written off.
Those are some of the ways you can get your water debt written off. Below, we go through some of the more commonly asked questions about water debt and debt collection in general.
Do I have to pay to get my water debt written off?
Unfortunately, one of the only ways to get at least a chunk of your water debt written off is to make a gestural payment. It’s quite difficult to get the entire water debt written off without having to make even a token payment, so you will be expected to pay something towards your debt.
Is there a way I can lower my overall bills?
The simplest method to lowering your water bill is to just use less water. This may not work out as a fool-proof option for some however. You could change to a water meter, which would mean instead of paying on a fixed rate, you only pay for the water you use.
I need some help with my bills – is there anywhere I can get more information?
Yes. If you are looking for help with paying your water bills, there are lots of different services available to you that can help you get out of the red. Citizens Advice has a great section on their website dedicated to help with water bills – there will be many other great resources offering free advice out there though.
Can I make a complaint?
If you believe that your water company has behaved in a disrespectful manner, you can make a complaint about them. Write or get in touch with your water supplier first of all. They should respond to your complaint within 10 working days.
If they don’t respond, you can escalate the matter to CCWater, who will investigate your complaint. If you’re still not satisfied, you can get in touch with the Water Redress Scheme.