Water bills amnesty finds 1,550 unbilled customers
A huge number of homes and businesses are getting water for free say a company who have launched an amnesty to crackdown on freeloaders.
Thames Water last week pledged to hunt down people who have not paid bills and would charge them for unpaid water.
However, the company also offered an amnesty to people who came forward before they were found, potentially writing off tens of thousands of pounds.
So far the deal has seen more than 350 people come forward in just seven days of the amnesty.
A search for people not paying bills has also found around 1,200 possibly unbilled customers, with Thames Water now checking the details.
Thames Water supplies water to more than three million properties across London and the Thames Valley.
But many older properties have been divided up over the years and in some cases no-one has informed the company of the change, meaning that separate bills have not been set up.
The same thing can happen if a developer builds a new property and connects it to the water network without fulfilling the legal obligation to tell the water supplier.
The firm's customer services director, Mike Tempest, said: "Anyone that turns out to be using water without paying bills will face up to six years of back-charges, unless they come forward during the amnesty.
"Of the 750 calls to our amnesty line in week one of our six-week amnesty, 357 have been from possibly unbilled customers who are set to avoid costly back-charges and start paying from now on for their water.
"However, after just one week of our customer base audit, 1,237 addresses are being carefully checked."