I have received a County Court Summons from United Utilities Water for claim for unpaid bills for water used etc.
I live in a rented apartment and water is supplied through a meter. I first became concerned in 2012 when I received a bill for water use that seemed particularly high (for one person living alone). After some investigation and telephone call with United Utilities, I discovered that the water meters at this building are connected incorrectly and the meter registered to my apartment is NOT connected to my apartment. I have established this by turning the mains water tap off (that is connected to this meter) and the water maintains full pressure in my apartment. Furthermore, I have taken a reading of the numbers (showing water consumption) on the meter registered to my apartment and then released a considerable amount of water from the taps in my apartment. I then re-checked the numbers showing consumption on the meter and they had not changed. From this, I concluded that the meter that is registered to my apartment is not the actual one connected it.
I first became aware of this problem and reported it to United Utilities on 1st November 2012 where I was informed that someone would come and visit my apartment and look at the problem. I have since made several telephone calls (for which I have contemporaneous notes and a record of the date and time the calls were made) to report this and continue to make United Utilities aware of the problem. In addition, I have sent letters and have recorded delivery receipts. I have not received any response to my letters and during some of the telephone conversations I have been asked to prove (in writing) that the meter is incorrectly connected.
It is impossible for me to prove in a letter how a plumbing system is connected and it would be necessary for a plumber to visit my apartment to establish this. When I mentioned this during a telephone conversation, I was threatened with a visit from a debt collector and was assured that they would not be interested in looking at the water connection but would be guaranteed to leave with payment of the money United Utilities allege that I owe.
It is my intention to defend their entire claim but I wish to make a counterclaim. I suffer from depression and have (in 2013) attempted suicide due to the pressure from various debt collectors and United Utilities unwillingness to address the problem.
Since this problem was first brought to the attention of United Utilities in November 2012, I have been in a position where I felt unable to use water in my apartment due to the knowledge that my water system was connected to another meter and someone else would be getting charged for my water consumption. I subsequently suffered increasingly poor standards of hygiene, have been unable to wash or flush the toilet correctly and in extremis have boiled rain water in order to make a cup of tea. I have had to make regular visits to my mother’s home in order to properly use the toilet and take showers etc which has involved considerable travelling expenses.
My general health has suffered considerably and my mental health deteriorated significantly due to the threats issued by United Utilities and debt collectors pursuing me for alleged debt despite being informed of the problem.
What would be the accepted or usual amount of compensation for my distress etc that I should enter in my counterclaim. The other main difficulty I have is that the court charge a fee for a counterclaim. My career sadly ended due to ill health and I do not have the funds to pay the court fees. It would distress me greatly to think that United Utilities were able to get away without even an apology for what they have done to me.
In relation to this, the wider issue remains that United Utilities have continued to receive payments fraudulently from at least one other tenant in this building who is actually connected to the meter that is wrongly registered to apartment 5. I do not know and have no way of knowing who this person is or which apartment is actually connected to this meter. I do know that there have been a number of changes in tenants in several apartments and this issue could potentially affect a large number of people going back to the time when the water meters were first installed.
It is my concern that due to the seriousness of this matter, United Utilities will try to rectify the problem in order to avoid admitting liability.
Any general advice or comments would be greatly appreciated. Many Thanks.