The technicalities of communal lighting on a key meter

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    The technicalities of communal lighting on a key meter


    I am a tenant who moved into a flat whereby I was not informed that all of the communal lighting in a 3 story building was paid for by me on my key meter - I found out when the electric went out and none of the communal lighting worked until I topped up.

    I am in the position of having new leaseholders move into the flat above me who keep leaving the communal lights on and have increased doing this ever since they found out I was paying the bill - ie they walk up the stairs and leave the two hall lights on and sometimes leave their landing light on too - if they feel like it.

    Am I within my right to flick the switch on my consumer unit/fusebox to turn off the lighting? Bearing in mind that I have a key meter - therefore, the supply of electric is not guaranteed if I don't top-up my meter or it runs out. If I did take that option, then I would acutually declare it for health and safety reasons in advance.

    The top two flats in the buidling are all owner occupied and the bottom two flats (of which I am one) are rented. I have the communal lighting into my flat and the other tenant has the fire alarm system wired into their flat.

    I woudn't be surprised if the freeholder charges the upper flats a service charge for the lighting, etc when I am the one paying for it and especially as a new leasholder is now keeping the lights on knowing I am paying for it.

    Any thoughts on this - am I out of luck?

    The freeholder needs to sort that out.
    The lights are a safety issue, so you can't really turn them off and you're paying for a communal facility.
    However, the landlord has the real safety issue, because you could, as you say, run out of power and the communal lighting wouldn't work.
    Unless the landlord/agent made you aware of this before you committed to the tenancy, your first point of contact is your landlord/agent.

    I'd also mention the other flat, if the tenant could disable the alarm, that would be a very serious safety issue.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


      I have emailed my landlord, who is also the freeholder of the building.

      I did mention that I might have to resort to disconnecting the lights at night if other occupants are not going to turn out the communal lights when they are not in use.

      I've raised the point that the leasholder who wants the lights on can have the communal lighting wired to their flat and then everone will be happy.

      I did point out that as the lights are on a key meter they are not on a guranteed electric supply. Surely, there is nothing in law that says I have to pay my electric. I don't see how I can be stopped from flicking the lights off on my consumer unit that is inside my flat - especially if I declare this before doing it.


        a) I agree this is a totally inappropriate arrangement (that you have to pay for it, and that you can switch it off).
        b) It may not always be totally inappropriate for communal lighting to be wired into one flat - overall that is a whole lot cheaper than having a separate supply for a couple of light bulbs.
        c) The amount of money will be small - 3 5W Led bulbs left on 24/7 365 days a year will cost around £15 per year or £1 a month give or take.

        I'd suggest explaining to your landlord that if you are to keep your supply live you want £5 per month to do so
        (Versus £15/month for standing charge for a separate meter and £3000 to organise a separate supply)


          Not ideal at all and a waste. Ask landlord to fit timer lights and PIRs with LED bulbs.
          There should also be emergency lighting for if your power went off.


            This is one of those situations where the Local Authority need to become involved.

            Its a health and safety nightmare - if possible - made even worse by having the fire system and communal lighting going into 2 different pre-pay meters.
            My views are my own - you may not agree with them. I tend say things as I see them and I don't do "political correctness". Just because we may not agree you can still buy me a pint lol


              The lights should be on a sensor so they automatically turn off after a set time, also there should be emergency lighting which is separate as well a fire alarm system with heat/smoke sensors.


                Thanks for the replies everone. I'll try contacting my local council just to push the question about whether I have any viable options to disconnect the lights or if they have the power to do something about it. It's worth raising it in case they can help.

                I'll mention the obvious, ie if I was to leave and run the electric out (and the emergency credit) and return the pre-pay key to the suppllier (which is what the supplier has said they want to happen), then nobody can top-up the electric for the communal lighting - everyone would be waiting for a new tenant to show up (which could be months - espcially if there is no lighting at all) - ie, nobody associated to the building has guaranteed lighting. In that scenario, it makes me hope I can have a route to have the lights disconnected or at least get some kind of reduction on my rent.

                Technically there are 5 lights that the can be left on that I pay for.

                Thank you.


                  Bearing in mind that for normal electricity rates you are talking about literally the price of a couple of sandwiches per year.

                  But I agree that principles are important. Have you done the simple thing and just asked for £5 ?????


                    Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                    Bearing in mind that for normal electricity rates you are talking about literally the price of a couple of sandwiches per year.

                    But I agree that principles are important. Have you done the simple thing and just asked for £5 ?????
                    My intitial contact to the freeholder was to ask if they could contact the flat in question to ask if they could turn out the lights when not in use or could they contact the landlord of that flat to do so (I don't know if the occupants are tenants or not - but it is leashold flat.) I did mention my desire to disconnect the lights from my supply. I didn't ask for any form of compensation.

                    My follow-up to any response from them was to mention they get the flat who want the lighting left on to pay the freeholder some kind of nominal service charge for the lighting (ie £5 per month) and then the freeholder (also my landlord) adjust my rent and then we are kind of even - assuming the flat in particular actually agreed to pay this - which they may not. Their currert attitude is total disregard for me - ie they have been turning lights back on when I turn them out at night.


                      You have 2 valid complaints and both should be addressed to the freeholder. You should not be asked to pay for the communal lighting and AndrewDod has made a good suggestion that you seek £5 a month as compensation. The alarm should not be dependent on the electric supply of another flat as explained by jpkeates.


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