I was sent a £2,000 water bill after my housing association failed to fix a leak…I reported it but no-one’s helping

I was sent a £2,000 water bill after my housing association failed to fix a leak…I reported it but no-one’s helping

A MUM who was sent a hefty water bill of almost £2000 says she reported a leak to her housing association but they failed to fix it.

Melanie Scott de Mendez, 51, from Newquay in Cornwall, received a bill of £1,763.29 for six months usage after South West Water warned her about a leak.

The mum-of-two faced paying a £2k water bill after her housing association failed to fix a leak
The mum-of-two faced paying a £2k water bill after her housing association failed to fix a leakCredit: Supplied

Melanie, who normally pays around £77-a-month normally, made multiple attempts to flag concerns to her housing provider, Sanctuary Housing, and the water company as the hefty bill climbed.

But she says her complaints went ignored as the costs continued to rise.

Melanie believes the leak began around June 20 when she contacted by South West Water who warned her usage was “unusually high”.

They asked her to do a number of checks around her property to try and find out where it was coming from.

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Once it was discovered the leak was outside the property, she claims she was told it was the responsibility of the housing provider to fix.

She said: “They did offer to put a hold on my bill until 20 July, but then when I contacted my property managers Sanctuary Housing they sent a guy who couldn’t fix the issue.

“Then nothing happened for weeks, so I put in several official complaints to Sanctuary Housing and South West Water because I was now being charged for the leak.

“I only ever got back automated responses saying someone would get in touch within 48 hours – but nobody ever got back to me until I spoke to the press.

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“I eventually rang South West Water in August to ask for some kind of support because nothing was happening, and they basically just said it was a third party dispute.”

Despite being provided her home by Sanctuary Housing, the water bill is in her name.

She says even if she doesn’t have to pay the bill, it’s still affected her credit rating.

Melanie said: “You just don’t know if you’re going to ever get it sorted or if you’ll have to pay something because you didn’t raise the issue earlier – but how could I have known.

“It’s obviously really stressful and worrying, and the matter is still technically not resolved.”

Her biggest frustration about the incident is that the water is just being “wasted needlessly”, particularly during a national hosepipe ban.

The responsibility of fixing a water leak

The responsibility for repairing the leak depends on where the leak is.

In most cases, if there’s a leak on your side of the meter, on the public footpath or external stop valve, it’s the homeowners responsibility to fix the leak.

If there’s a problem with the water meter, this is the water company’s responsibility.

Melanie has now heard from both South West Water and Sanctuary Housing, who claim they have made the repair a priority.

A spokesperson for Sanctuary Housing said the company has committed itself to completing the repairs as soon as possible, and has employed a contractor to investigate the leak.

Their statement added: “We will be speaking to our tenant to discuss the increase in her water bills and are sorry this issue is taking longer than expected to resolve.”

A South West Water spokesperson said: “We will be contacting the customer and the housing association urgently to ensure the leak is investigated and a repair is carried out as quickly as possible.

“We are fixing up to 2,500 leaks a month and using the latest technology such as AI and satellites to find and fix leaks even faster.

“If customers do spot a leak we ask them to report it via our website or by calling us on our 24-hour leak helpline so we can investigate.”

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The company said that whilst it is the housing association’s responsibility to repair the leak as owner of the property, South West Water could carry out a repair if necessary.

It said it will look to offer a leak allowance to remove the excess charges once the leak is repaired.

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Fiona Connor

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