Tenant installed smartcard gas meter without consent

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    Tenant installed smartcard gas meter without consent

    Hi,

    Our tenants (4 months into a standard 6 month ast) have had a smartcard gas meter installed without our consent and without even informing us. We noticed a different meter installed while visiting on an unrelated issue, but chose not to confront them at the time. I believe this to be in breach of the tenancy agreement ("no changes to fixtures/fittings without consent"), but I'm not entirely sure (perhaps they changed utility suppliers and the company insisted on a smartcard meter, or something like that ?). We probably would have had no objections anyway, but are left seething at the lack of courtesy.

    I was wondering if others have had a similar issue and what, if anything, to do ? I'm thinking of just a polite chat/letter to remind them of the AST clause and that we would reserve the right, on completion of the tenancy, to change the meter back and deduct the reasonable cost of doing so from the deposit.

    I've searched the forums high and low and can't see any other related posts, except for some which mention that changing utility supplier (but not necessarily meter) is the right of the tenant, while changing to a water meter is also the right of the tenant if on an agreement longer than 6 months - but nothing about gas/electric meters.

    Thanks in advance
    Mick

    #2
    I agree that it would have been courteous to let you know they wanted to do this, but to be honest, they are the gas account holders and if that is the only thing they have done which upsets you, I would count my blessings!

    It may even be the case that if your next tenant does not want the smartmeter, the utility co. will change it back free of charge anyway. Just ring the provider up and ask. If they do make a charge it would seem reasonable to deduct it from T's deposit.
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

    Comment


      #3
      Sometimes tenants find it easier to manage their finances by having card meters installed. As we all know, this means that they have to pay more for their gas/electricity, but that is their problem. Sometimes, utility suppliers refuse to continue gas/electricity supply until a card meter is installed due to tenant's credit problems thus they have no alternative. I have one tenant who has been in these situations for a number of years. There is no need to worry about it - when the tenant deprts, the company should install an ordinary meter free of charge (I hope!)

      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


        #4
        Utility providers often install those meters as a last resort if the account is consistently in arrears. We had a similar problem where British Gas were going to come round to install a pre-pay meter because the previous tenants never paid their bills. Luckily we managed to set up our new account in time before they did.

        Comment


          #5
          OFT have ruled (please challenge them in't court & we'll all watch like we did with the Foxtons/OFT case..) a couple of things....see..

          http://www.oft.gov.uk/advice_and_res...onsumer/oft356

          Potentially unreasonable restriction

          [The tenant must not] change the utility supplier without the landlord's consent in writing



          Unfair term

          Term deleted.
          (Page 109)
          &
          Against changing the phone or utility

          The tenant should have the choice of supplier although he may be required to keep the landlord informed of any change and to return the account to the original supplier at the end of the tenancy.
          (Page 64, table 4.2)

          So in your shoes I'd write T a calm polite letter advising him he must put things back as-was but he can probably tell you to go-forth-and-multiply.

          I rent a couple of houses on what the English would call a council estate but in bonnie Scotland is known as a "Scheme" and, notwithstanding 4 Munros visible out of the front windows plus 2 sea-lochs and the occasional Eagle flying overhead it is a deprived area (well, I live there..) and I've concluded you just have to let the tenant change to pre-pay if they really want to.. but take it as a sign they've money problems... (However t'law is different up there anyway..)

          Cheers!

          Lodger
          I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
            So in your shoes I'd write T a calm polite letter advising him he must put things back as-was
            I'm not even sure I'd do that... it's really a non-issue and the OP would be better saving his battles for serious matters!

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
              but take it as a sign they've money problems...
              Which they are obviously doing their best to deal with!!! Would you rather they just didn't pay the bills? I think you need to get things into perspective.
              Mrs Jones
              I am not an expert - my posts are my opinion and should not be taken as fact!!

              Comment


                #8
                Which they are obviously doing their best to deal with!!! Would you rather they just didn't pay the bills?
                Agreed: Like I did when the electricity company 'phoned me & asked why the tenant was over £1k in arrears (naughty electricity company...!!) and when the same tenant told me she had filed for Bankruptcy... I'm sure we've all had similar experiences..

                As long as T recognises the priority of holding onto their home by paying the right rent on-time (as CaB & Shelter advise in debt situations) then it should be OK... but it's "interesting" at the very least to learn of tenant's money problems... makes me check the money is coming in correctly!

                Cheers!

                Lodger

                Cheers!
                I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

                Comment


                  #9
                  Did the installer re-issue a Gas Safety Certificate to the landlord. Very important and it is a legal requirement. Regards Peter

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I believe requiring the tenant NOT to change utility meter types is an unenforceable condition both legally and practically.

                    For legal reasons, it would be unacceptable to deny the tenant the right given to any person generally to have a prepayment meter installed when they get into difficulties, or for them to have one voluntarily installed because they have money management problems. BUT I would have to say that if I found out that any of my tenants who are on self-received LHA had done this without my consent, I would use that to show that the tenant was probably not capable of managing money properly and insist on payment to me direct.
                    Apart from this, the tenant is the payer, not the landlord.

                    As to practicalities, how can you stop it - usually by the time the landlord finds out its been done - the utilities do not report the matter of the tenants defalcations or choice to the landlord? So you insist its reverted - and deny the tenant any electricity/gas???

                    The worry is of course that the utility may not change the meter back to what it was before or may not without charge to the landlord - but the landlord is not the contracted party so may be safely ignored by the utility.

                    Then again the reverse situation - installing a credit meter as replacement for a prepay meter which again a landlord may desire.

                    I allow changes of meters with my consent being obtained first merely so that I know who the supplier is when the tenant vacates.

                    I had an interesting time about 15 years ago when British Gas installed a Quantum meter in one of my houses and the tenant fiddled with it by drilling a hole through the plastic front part. The meter was promptly removed on discovery and myself billed for £315 or so for a brand new complete meter as the landlord. BG did not report it to the police, so I did and the culprit was arrested and charged and convicted. I refused to pay the bill and held BG liable for loss of rent until they eventually realised they had no right to bill me for damage caused by a tenant and reinstalled a new meter. I asked without success why the meter could not simply be repaired - all it required was a replacement plastic window and I also asked where in the terms and conditions it made me liable for the criminal acts of another person. Fortunately this happened during the summer so I lost no rent.

                    Amazingly, same house, several years later - forced entry and credit gas meter nicked - only thing taken in whole house - someone clearly on a prepay meter after some free gas!!!!!

                    BTW, the Quantum meter shuts itself off if interfered with or removed - so landlords, a sure sign its been meddled with if you see "call help" on the screen!!!!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by TaxationPete View Post
                      Did the installer re-issue a Gas Safety Certificate to the landlord. Very important and it is a legal requirement. Regards Peter
                      For changing a Gas Meter? Is this definitly required as its never been done in about 4 meter changes iv had

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Neil75 View Post
                        For changing a Gas Meter? Is this definitly required as its never been done in about 4 meter changes iv had
                        That does not prove anything, does it?
                        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                        Comment


                          #13
                          The gas safety certificate covers appliances which are owned by the landlord only. So re-certification would not be required UNLESS an appliance was changed.

                          The landlord is under a separate duty to ensure that the pipes from the meter to the connection point are fit for a tenant to have an appliance connected. So say for example a cooker point - as landlord I am responsible for the pipework from the meter outlet pipe to the bayonet fix point where the tenant can "plug" his gas cooker in - under those premises a GSC is not required - I went through this very carefully with the HSC when the fire brigade advised one of my elderly tenants that the landlord should have a GSC for the property despite there being only the tenants appliances connected to my pipework.

                          Once however a Central Heating system was installed I have to have that checked every year after 1st year, but still under no duty to check the tenants appliances but as a matter of safety concern, I had the pipes checked at the same time.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            sometimes there is a hefty advance charge to have a prepaid meter removed. Depends on the company. I think that if this is the case then it is reasonable to deduct any costs involved in re-instating the property from the deposit. Depending on your target market many tenants may not want a pre-payment meter, I believe that they can increase the fuel bills.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by fthl View Post
                              sometimes there is a hefty advance charge to have a prepaid meter removed. Depends on the company.
                              Really? Which companies do that?

                              Comment

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