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FAQs

Below is a list of some of the most Frequently Asked Questions from non-household customers. If you are looking for information on complaints please see here

I hear that the Scottish Government have removed the exemption for vacant non-household premises from 1st April 2017?

The exemption for vacant non-household properties has been removed. These properties are liable for charges in the same way as those that are occupied. Owners of vacant properties have been liable for water, sewerage and drainage charges from 1 April 2017. Further details are available at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Business-Industry/waterindustryscot/SWI-1/charges/chargebusiness

I have received a letter from Scottish Water saying that I need to appoint a licensed provider – what’s going on?

If your non-household property is receiving services from Scottish Water, you need to pay for those services through a supplier. Sometimes a property that is receiving services has not been registered correctly, and is consequently not being charged – this is called a ‘gap site’. When Scottish Water identify a gap site, they send out a letter like the one you have received.

When you receive this letter, you will have 15 business days to choose a supplier – or ‘licensed provider’ – and make arrangements to become their customer. If you don’t, a supplier will be randomly chosen for you. Visit the Supplier Hub for details of the suppliers in Scotland.

If you already have a supplier, you should get in touch with them and quote the reference number on the letter. It’s possible that the letter is about another service or part of your property that you’re not currently paying for – your supplier can help clarify this.

But my property doesn’t even have a water connection, or I already pay for water through my landlord – why do I have to pay a supplier?

Even if you don’t have a water or wastewater connection, you might still need to pay charges for drainage, if any part of your property or any communal areas you have access to drain to the public sewerage system.

Even if your landlord already pays for your water, for example if you rent a unit in a shopping centre or an office building, you may need to pay drainage charges based on the Rateable Value of your property.

I don’t pay for water under the charity exemption scheme – do I still need to choose a water supplier?

Yes, all non-household customers in Scotland who use water or wastewater services need to have a supplier. If your organisation does not have one, you will need to appoint one or otherwise one will be randomly chosen for you. You will also need to apply for the exemption scheme through this supplier.

Can you tell me who my supplier is?

We do not hold information about which customer is registered with which supplier. However, you can find this information out in two ways. The first is to look at one of your business/organisation’s water bills. This will clearly state who supplies your water. The other is to find out if your business/organisation has switched supplier since the market opened on 1 April 2008. If there has been no switch then, by default, you will be a customer of the incumbent supplier, Business Stream. If neither of these approaches is possible, you may have to contact each of the licensed providers to ask if you are a customer with them. All of their contact details can be found in the Supplier Hub.

Can you provide me with a quote for how much my water and wastewater would cost if I sign up with a new supplier?

Unfortunately we are not in a position to arrange or supply quotes for water and sewerage services. Instead, you need to contact the suppliers you are interested in directly. You can use our Customer Enquiry Form  to ask one or more suppliers to get in touch with you.

I thought water charges are included in my business rates?

Unfortunately, no. Non-household customers in Scotland are billed seperately for their water and sewerage supplies (household customers continue to pay through their Council Tax bill). It is the responsibility of every occupier of a non-household premises to contact a supplier and pay for the water and sewerage services he or she is receiving. Visit the Supplier Hub for details of the suppliers in Scotland.

Is it true that I can be disconnected if I don’t pay?

Yes, a non-household premises can be disconnected for non-payment. However, there are safeguards in place to ensure that customers are given as much opportunity as possible to pay. There are also restrictions on who can be disconnected and when. Look here for more information.

I have been in my premises for quite a while without receiving a bill – I’m now being chased for back- dated charges!

As set out above, every occupier of a non-household premises must contact a supplier and pay for the water and sewerage services he or she is receiving. It is important that everyone pays their share towards maintaining the water network in Scotland as that helps to keep bills down for all customers. Water suppliers are therefore entitled to charge for all of the services used at a premises from the date of occupation.

If you have received a bill for backdated charges you should check that the period you are being charged for is correct. You should then speak with your supplier about any back-dated charges, including any disputed amounts, and the repayment terms that are available. It is a requirement that all suppliers offer their customers the opportunity of a payment plan before pursuing a disconnection. Look here for more information on payment plans.

I am being charged for Roads and Property Drainage – what’s this?

Property drainage is a charge to recover the cost of the sewer network transporting surface water away from your property and treating it before it is discharged back into the environment. Roads drainage is your share of the cost of draining all of Scotland's roads (not just the particular roads near your premises). It is Scottish Government policy that the cost of roads drainage is recovered from all customers connected to the Public Sewer System.

If your premises falls into any of the categories below then you will be charged for Roads and Property Drainage. To be charged your premises must either:

Roads and Property Drainage is based on the Rateable Value of your premises – please note that your charges are based on the Rateable Value assigned to your premises in 2000 unless you have altered your premises such that a new Rateable Value was assigned by the Scottish Assessors Association. If you think that the level of your charges is wrong you should speak to your water and sewage supplier.

I think I am being charged the wrong amount – what should I do?

You should always speak with supplier as soon as you believe there is a problem with your bill. If you are on metered charges then you should try and take a meter reading first before contacting your supplier. Contact your supplier immediately if you believe your meter is no longer working correctly or at all.

If you are on unmetered charges then your bill will be based on the Rateable Value of your premises – please note that your charges are based on the Rateable Value assigned to your premises in 2000 unless you have altered your premises such that a new Rateable Value was assigned by the Scottish Assessors Association.

If you pay your water and sewerage charges based on your RV you can apply to have your charges reassessed. The reassessment process firstly checks to see whether a meter can be fitted at your premises. It then allows your charges to be reassessed based on an estimate of your consumption rather than your Rateable Value. Full details on reassessment process can be found here.

I don’t have a meter – can I get one?

Most non-household premises should now have had a meter installed, as a result of the Scottish Government’s aim to introduce metered charging to as many non-household customers as possible. For a limited number of premises, however, the way in which pipes are arranged made it uneconomical for Scottish Water to install a meter.
If this applies to you, you may be able to apply for a reassessment, as a result of which Scottish Water may offer you a contribution to the cost of installing a meter. If this is still not possible, you may get your charges recalculated based on an estimate of your consumption. This could benefit you, particularly if your water usage is low. Full details on reassessment process can be found here.

If you wish to do this, you need to contact your supplier and ask them to submit a reassessment application on your behalf. Contact details for all suppliers can be found in the Supplier Hub.

Scottish Water has told me that I need to appoint a contractor to carry out the work required before it can connect my business to the water supply. Can you provide me with a list of contractors?

Scotland on Tap is unable to provide contact details of licensed contractors (i.e. plumbers/builders) who would be able to assist you. However, you may find it helpful to speak to your supplier.

I have a problem with a private supply – can you help?

Unfortunately, no. Neither Scotland on Tap nor the Water Industry Commission for Scotland are part of the regulation of private supplies. Any problems with a private supply must be dealt with by negotiation with the owner of the supply – you may wish to consider engaging a lawyer to assist you.

If you are concerned about the quality of the water from your private supply, you may find this page from the Drinking Water Quality Regulator helpful.

There are some protections in terms of prices only where the owner of the supply is reselling to households supplies he or she originally purchased from Scottish Water i.e. there is a re-sale of Scottish Water’s supplies. Details of the cap on prices for the re-sale of Scottish Water’s supplies can be found on page 27 of this leaflet.

I heard that competition is being introduced in the English water industry as well – how will that affect me as a Scottish customer?

The UK Government has passed a bill (the Water Act 2014) that allows for a competitive market in water and sewerage services in England similar to the one we already have in Scotland. The plan is that English customers will be able to choose their supplier from April 2017. The new arrangements are currently being developed by the Open Water Programme.
If your business is based entirely in Scotland, this will only affect you indirectly. Suppliers on the new market might decide to compete in Scotland as well, giving you more suppliers to choose from, and this extra competition could lead to lower prices and improved services.
If your business operates in both Scotland and England, the new market will have more direct benefits. You will, of course, be able to switch suppliers in England, just like you currently are in Scotland. In addition, some suppliers might decide to operate in both countries, in which case you could choose to have a single supplier for all your sites across Great Britain, instead of having to deal with a number of separate suppliers.

I heard that the Scottish Government has introduced a new exemption scheme to assist charities and sport clubs with the payment of water and sewerage charges – am I eligible?

Under the new scheme, support will be available to charities registered with the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and to community amateur sport clubs (CASCs) that have gross annual income below £300,000 and do not meet any of the following conditions:
• a permanent alcohol licence is held, other than an occasional permission under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 or its predecessors;
• the premises is a charity shop or other premises used for purpose of retailing new or second hand merchandise;
• the premises operates as a café which is open to the public and operated on a regular basis to generate income;
• the organisation is a Local Authority or an Arms-Length External Organisation (ALEO).

Further details on the scheme are available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/waterindustryscot/watercharges/exemptionscheme.