Under the water industry act 1991 water providers must have a plan to manage the demand for water in certain areas. If they choose to install compulsory water meters but aren’t allowed to because a resident fails to contact them, what is the consequence for the resident?
If the residence falls within one of the categories for which a water company can insist on a water meter, then the resident cannot refuse. See House of Commons, "Water meters: the rights of customers and water companies".
That brief says that a water company can insist on installing a meter if the customer:
- uses an automatic watering device (such as a garden sprinkler);
- automatically fills a swimming pool or pond;
- has a large bath;
- uses a reverse osmosis softening unit;
- has a power shower;
- is the new occupier of a property (provided an unmetered bill has not already been sent to that occupier); or
- lives in an area which has been determined by the Secretary of State to be an area of serious water stress and subject to a metering programme as part of a plan to maintain secure water supplies.
See also Tom Haynes and Ruth Emery, "What a water meter could do to your bills – and why you may be forced to have one", The Telegraph (1 June 2023):
If your water supplier has been granted legal powers to fit compulsory water meters, you don't have any right to refuse one. As Andy White, of the Consumer Council for Water, puts it: “It's not possible for a customer to refuse where a water company has approval for compulsory metering from Defra.”
If a water company has the statutory right to install a meter, and the customer has no right to refuse, this could be enforced by injunction.