Sub-metering: is it lawful? What are my rights?

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  • Sub-metering: is it lawful? What are my rights?

    Hi. A few days ago I was asked to supply my landlord with the reading from the electricity meter in my flat (first time I've been asked - I moved in three months ago).

    I did this and a couple of days later received a hand-written bill from the landlord for a whopping £272.16.

    The bill read as follows:

    Reading on 20/08/05 - 38570 units (date I moved in)
    Reading on 26/11/05 - 40962 units

    = 2392 units @ 10p per unit = £239.20
    Metre = £20
    VAT 5% = £12.96

    Grand total for 3 months to 26/11/05 = £272.16

    I have two questions.

    1) Is it legal to sub-meter to tenants in this way? I was not informed of this arrrangement before I moved in and expected simply to receive a standard bill from my local electricity supplier, same as in every rental property I've lived in. I have had no proof of unit cost from the landlord or anything.

    2) In your experience, is it physically possible to run up a bill this size with one person living in a one bedroom flat? Appliances-wise, there are two night storage heaters in the lounge (one of which was broken for a month), an electric shower and a towel drier type radiator in the bathroom, a one-bar radiator in the toilet, and a water heater over the sink in the kitchen (which is turned off most of the time), a washing machine and a microwave - none of which are used excessively. I don't leave lights on during the day. I never use the cooker (sad, I know). I didn't even turn the heating on for the first month I was there!

    My experience has always been bills around the £50-60 mark. Never this much. Needless to say, I haven't paid the bill yet.

    Many thanks in advance for your help.

    Phil.

  • #2
    Regardless of legality, he must show you proof(ie his bill from the utility company) of the actual expense he has paid. So you are fully entitled t osee his bill prior to paying him anything.

    *EDIT* it almost definitely is illegal, as apart from anything else it could deny you your right of changing utility suppliers.

    And yes that is quite a high bill, in fact very high. Did you read the meter yourself upon moving in?

    What does Metre = £20 mean???

    And I virtually guarantee you that the utility will not be charging 10p per unit....apart from anything else no utility company charges a nice round figure per unit.
    Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

    Comment


    • #3
      you need to try and find out who your current supplier is. Try contacting Meterline on 0870 608 1524, they may be able to help.
      Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

      Comment


      • #4
        It appears I may be wrong about it being illegal. Here is some info from the energywatch website which may be useful.

        The Maximum Resale Price is the most a landlord can charge you for mains gas or mains electricity.

        Your landlord cannot charge more for gas or electricity than the amount they have paid for it, plus VAT at the appropriate rate. Your landlord can also recover the supplier’s standing charge, by dividing on a pro-rata basis amongst tenants according to their varying levels of consumption.

        This only applies to energy used in the home and the current rules, which were set by the Regulator, Ofgem, came into effect on 1 January 2003.

        Maximum Resale Price will apply to you if you:

        *
        rent your home and pay your landlord for the gas or electricity you use
        *
        are a leaseholder and you buy your gas or electricity from the lessor
        *
        are a student and you buy your gas or electricity from your landlord
        *
        own or rent a caravan and buy your gas or electricity from the caravan site or park owner
        *
        rent a holiday home or chalet and buy your gas or electricity from the owner
        *
        own a houseboat or marine craft and buy your gas or electricity from the moorings operator.

        The Maximum Resale Price does not apply:

        if you rent your accommodation and the rent you pay is inclusive, for example there is no specified charge for gas or electricity

        *
        to gas or electricity that is used at industrial or commercial premises
        *
        to the sale of liquefied petroleum gas.

        How will you know how much your landlord pays?

        At your request, your landlord must produce copies of any bills from the supplier showing how much gas or electricity has been used. If more than one tenant is supplied at the property the landlord should also explain how your contribution has been calculated.

        Other Costs:-

        Your landlord is entitled to recover charges for other costs such as the maintenance and upkeep of his own supply system, gas or electricity used in communal areas or administrative charges for reading individual sub-meters.

        However, these charges are not covered by the Maximum Resale Price regulations and should be billed separately, for example within the rent or as part of other service charges
        Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

        Comment


        • #5
          The "meter £20" will be the charge of providing the metre and supply - this is normal in commercial tenancies but dont know about domestic. I do know that in the case of domestic rentals there is a maximum which can be added on to the price the landlord is charged (as above). I would take my usage (if units accurate), find out the real charge, add on what the landlord is legally entitled to add on and pay him that.
          Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

          Comment


          • #6
            As stated above, the landlord cannot add anything on, as the maximum selling price is the price paid by the landlord.

            Quick question....is this mainland britain? Or northern ireland or EIRE? The rules are different there.
            Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

            Comment


            • #7
              Mainland Britain. Reading, to be precise!

              Thanks for your advice, MrShed - much appreciated.

              However, I'm still baffled how I'm supposed to have used that many units of electricity in the first place...

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes it does seem quite high....I'm guessing that you didnt take a reading yourself!

                Good luck, let us know how it turns out, quite interested in this one. Needless to say the most important advice from the above is do NOT give any money until you have seen his bill.
                Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Philo - this definately seems a ripoff. We at the moment charge each of our individual flats £46 per calendar month to cover gas, electric and water rates. We do not make any profit but neither do we lose out. That includes gas central heating. One thing I noticed you mentioned was night storage heaters. Does he have a separate white meter for these (or are those not being used now does anyone know?) You used to have to have them or the electric price was excessive using only the day meter price. You certainly have the right to ask for details of the bills before paying. You could also I think ask him to have the meter checked by his supplier.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Susan. No, there's only the one meter with the one dial. I remember in an old flat the meter had two dials - one for the standard rate and one for Economy 7. I presume this is what you're referring to...

                    £46 - that's round-about what I would expect to be paying.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Quick addendum to my last note. I've just had another look at my meter and the reading is now 41412. Four days ago when I gave the landlord the original reading it was 40962, so that's 450 units in four days.

                      At the landlord's rate -10p a unit (which I'm still going to query) - that's £45! In four days!!

                      Am just about to hand deliver a note to the landlord's house asking for the meter to be checked asap.

                      So... if it's malfunctioning, is that their fault? I will post again when I hear back from them...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To do a rough check on your meter, switch off everything in your premises and check that the meter reading does not change. If it is an old type mechanical meter this is easy as there a vertically mounted wheel in it which must remain stationary. If this is the case then switch on an electric heather rated at 1 kilowatt for one hour. The meter reading must increase by precicely 1 unit provided a thermostat does not cut in to control the unit.

                        The name of the electricity supplier to your property is available from Mpan on 0845 6030618. On finding out who this is you can always ring them up and offer to take over the bill payment directly thus cutting your landlord out of the loop!

                        P.P.
                        Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          many many years ago I was looking for a flatshare in London. One place I looked at was above two shops which the landlord owned. The tenants had their own electricity meter for the flat, the bills for which were divided amongst the tenants. However, they had discovered that the supply in one of the rooms went through the meter of the shop below, so most electrical devices in the flat were run off extension cables from this one room! There were about 15 cables running down the hallway, and I hate to think of the demand out of a few sockets.

                          So to the OP, do experiment with your supply. At various times of the day, switch off all the supplies in your flat, and then look at the dial of the meter. If its going round, you're paying for someone else's electricity!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Average monthly consumption in a UK Household per month is 392 kilowatts.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              curmudgeon is right to say that you should turn absolutely everything off, and see if the meters going round. If you have a loft ( sorry, haven't read all the story) see if someone's left a heater up there to stop the water tank, if any, freezing. I do know of someone who did this to themselves....!

                              If nobody's hooked into your supply, then you need to ascertain if the meters faulty - I believe it does happen

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