Replacing our shared meters – what you need to know
We’re currently replacing our existing water meters that are shared between household and non-household properties with separate meters for each property supplied by the shared meter.
If you are a landlord managing a number of properties you will receive a letter from us explaining why we are carrying out this work. We are also in the process of visiting landlord properties across the North West to check if it’s possible for us to install separate meters for each property.
If you are a tenant affected by this change we will also be in touch to arrange a convenient date to fit your new water meter and explain how your bills may be affected by this change, depending on whether you or your landlord currently pays for your water and wastewater services as part of your rental agreement.
Frequently asked questions
We’ve included a Q&A on the project below. If you have any queries after reading this information please call us on 0345 075 0714, we’ll be happy to help. We're available between 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday. Alternatively, you can email us at email@example.com and we’ll get back in touch.
In simple terms, a water meter cannot supply water to a mix of household and non-household (commercial) customers. This is because non-household customers are allowed to switch water supplier, so it’s important they are billed correctly by whatever company supplies their water services.
It is our responsibility as the regional water company to ensure that we are not knowingly charging non-household premises – that is the responsibility of water retailers. We are only permitted to charge household customers for water and wastewater services in the North West.
In practice this means that we can no longer bill properties on the basis of a single common metered supply to these buildings, as to do would result in both household and non-household premises being charged in the same market, which we are not permitted to do.
We will need to stop charging using the shared meters, and instead charge for water and wastewater services for each non-household premises and household property on an individual basis. The household charges will be billed by us, United Utilities, to the occupier directly (unless the landlord has agreed to pay on behalf of the household customer as part of their tenancy agreement).
To be able to charge each premises individually, we will first need to fit individual water meters to each property so that they can be individually charged for water and wastewater services based on a meter reading.
We will therefore visit all the properties connected to the shared meter to check the type(s) of property that the meter currently supplies. Following the initial visit, we will be in touch to explain what happens next and provide a detailed explanation of any changes that may need to be made to existing charging arrangements. We will then arrange a convenient date with each tenant to fit the meter. There are no costs associated with installing the new meters.
We will need to stop charges using the shared meters, and instead bill water and wastewater charges for each non-household and household premises on an individual basis.
This is based on there being separate council tax and business rate listings for each premises. This means that the occupant of each of those premises is individually liable for charges, which will be assessed for each of those individual premises.
How you will be billed in the future will depend on whether you are a household or non-household customer, and whether your landlord pays your water bills as part of your tenancy agreement, we’ve explained more below:
The household charges will be billed by United Utilities to the occupier, unless the landlord has agreed to pay the charges on behalf of the tenant. If the landlord chooses not to do this then we will send water bills direct to the tenant who will pay United Utilities for their water and wastewater services based on their meter reading.
Our charges for non-household premises will be billed to the relevant retailer, who, in turn, will be responsible for billing the occupants of the non-household premises. The water retailer for the non-household premises may also be happy to bill the landlord rather than billing the non-household premises direct if this is the preference of the landlord. If you are a landlord and wish to take up this option, then you will need to discuss this with your water retailer. You can find their contact details on your water services bill.
We have been working with landlords to give them time to update tenancy agreements to reflect any new charging arrangements. Any new charging arrangements implemented after 1 July 2023 will apply from the date of implementation.
Sometimes it’s not possible to install a meter in a property. Reasons for this include the water pipe being shared with other properties or the existing pipework can’t accommodate a meter.
If this applies to you we will charge you a fixed annual charge based on your property type (which we call an assessed charge) or your property’s rateable value (which will be calculated using your business rate value if you are a non-household customer).
We’ll confirm this before you receive your first bill or, if you are a non-household customer, this will be confirmed by your retailer.
Once we install your meter we’ll confirm the location of the meter and serial number. Your bills will then be calculated based on the amount of water you use. Please watch our video to understand how we calculate your water bill using a meter reading. We'll send your first water bill when we read your meter, which may be up to 6 months after we fit the meter. Once your account is set up you’ll be able to register to manage your bill online at My Account. You’ll be able to check your balance, see your payments plus much more. You can also pay your water bill in just a few seconds using our app, download from Apple App Store or Google Play.
If you’re a non-household customer your charges will be calculated by your retailer, please speak to them direct to understand how they will calculate your charges based on a meter reading.
‘Mixed use’ properties contain both a household element and a non-household element (both rated individually for the purposes of council tax or business rates), the council tax record indicates a ‘mixed-use’ premises and both the household and non-household elements are occupied by the same person i.e. where a person uses a single premises for both business and personal use.
We must treat mixed use properties as a single premises for charging purposes. Where a mixed use premises is identified, an investigation in to the predominant use of the premises will be undertaken. A decision will then be made as to whether the premises is charged by United Utilities as a single household premises or by a water services retailer in the non-household market.
The accounts will be then updated to reflect the change and a new bill will be issued by either United Utilities or a business retailer.