Water meter- can T insist on it or install without L's consent?

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    Water meter- can T insist on it or install without L's consent?

    Hello, we are 2 weeks into our 12 month let of our property (3 bed house).

    Today we recieved an email from our Letting Agent telling us that the tenant (1 person) wants to install a water meter because water bills are "astronomic".

    We don't want him to install one as it could work out expensive for us (4 people) when we return in 12 months, but from what i understand the tenant is within his rights to have one installed if he is living there longer than 6 months.
    Our tenancy agreements does state that the tenant agrees..."Not to tamper, interfere with, alter or add to the gas, water or electrical installations or meters, either in or serving the Property".


    My question is, does this obligation in the tenancy agreemment stop the tenant exercising his right to have the meter installed?.

    Thank you for your time

    regards
    Jim

    #2
    The installation of a water meter is within the tenant's rights; he is not tampering with it but merely cutting his costs. It's the same if he wants to change utility supplier or telephone company and he can! Why? Because the contract is between the supplier and consumer so your clause is likely to be considered unfair as it's something beyond your control. Your agent should have told you this beforehand - if they didn't they're probably not too knowledgeable and it makes me wonder what other pitfalls await you where you haven't been given sufficient information!
    The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

    Comment


      #3
      Water meter is different from simple change of utility supplier, because it may be irreversible. L should refuse consent unless T is bound to procure (and pay for) meter removal when tenancy ends- and L should also verify from Water Co. whether that's allowed at all.
      JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
      1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
      2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
      3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
      4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

      Comment


        #4
        I was under the impression that once a water meter was installed removal was not possible as water companies would like 100% metered properties under a government directive.
        The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Paul_f View Post
          The installation of a water meter is within the tenant's rights; he is not tampering with it but merely cutting his costs. It's the same if he wants to change utility supplier or telephone company and he can! Why? Because the contract is between the supplier and consumer so your clause is likely to be considered unfair as it's something beyond your control. Your agent should have told you this beforehand - if they didn't they're probably not too knowledgeable and it makes me wonder what other pitfalls await you where you haven't been given sufficient information!
          Hello thank you for all your replies they have been very helpful.

          Paul f, i would like to pick up on a point you made, i agree that if the tenant has a meter installed he is not really tampering with the water supply, but the clause does state that he must not ADD or ALTER the supplier of water to the property.
          Surely if he has signed the agreement stating that he will not alter the supply or add a meter, then he is clearly in breach of the agreement.


          Id be interested in any opinions.

          Thanks again for your opinions and input.

          jim
          Last edited by jimdunn; 07-08-2008, 18:31 PM. Reason: never added all information

          Comment


            #6
            Have you looked at your water companies' website? Here's United Utilities' factsheet on water meters, which explains that you have 13 months to change your mind after one's been fitted, but that any new occupier (which you can be sure includes you as a returning owner) isn't allowed to remove the meter, even within that 13 months.

            http://www.unitedutilities.com/resou...eb%20FEB08.pdf

            Elsewhere (at http://www.unitedutilities.com/?OBH=3818) it states that tenants can apply to have a meter fitted "in most cases, but it will depend on your tenancy agreement. Any tenant with a fixed term tenancy agreement of less than six months is not eligible to apply for a meter as specified in the Water Act 1991. Please make sure you tell your landlord that you intend applying for a meter to be fitted at the property".

            Not sure what the significance of that is!

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks Ericthelobster.

              I can accept that by law the tenant is entitiled to have a water meter installed but the tenant has signed the agreement clearly stating that he must not install a meter.

              Im guess im trying to understand what has more power, the law or our tenacy agreement?


              regards
              jim

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by jimdunn View Post
                Im guess im trying to understand what has more power, the law or our tenacy agreement?
                jim
                Look at it another way. You can tell the next tenant that your property is a better rent, as the monthy water rates should be about 30 to 40% cheaper than properties without one. ( assuming fair useage for one or two persons ), so it's in your favour to have a water meter.

                Another way - It is not your tenant that changed the water meter. He asked the water company how he could reduce his payments, and the water company said they could modify THEIR equipment, belonging to them, free of charge, to meter the water.

                I have - 2 weeks ago, had a water meter fitted, and got 40% reduction, and i didn't tell the landlord ( Landlord does not care about premises )

                Yes, i do run a residents management company, but i also rent a flat ( away from Rmc ) so i see both sides of the argument.

                The Law takes preference over lease, but tenant has to observe the lease, so if you say "Do not have a water meter fitted" then tenant is in breach, but so what, - This time it's a bonus for you next time you look for tenants, so thank you tenant for this ???

                Some times a breach of the lease, if not serious, and to your future advantage, is sometimes best left alone, although ( and make sure your lease says you must not let the water supplier add a water meter ) write to your tenant and say that he / she should have asked your permission, and say that now you know, that permision is granted; keeps your tenant on his toes, and he'll likely ask next time.

                Yes, you must observe the lease, but do you want to force your tenant to pay up to 40% more for his water by reverting back ? and risk resentment, possibly backlash from your tenant ?

                R-a-M

                Comment


                  #9
                  Correction

                  Having said above, if your express instructions are that you will be returning to the property in 12 months, you can try to insist that as it's your property, and you will be returning to that property, you don't want a water meter fitted, as then --your-- bills wil be astronomical, and it is usualy a none reversable action, that you do not give permission, but if tenant goes ahead, then you will charge the tenant the full cost of reversal, which could be in the thousands. ( To return the house in the condition that he found it )

                  You have - in effect - the owners taking up residency in 12 months time, and their implicit requirements are - not to have a water meter fitted.

                  The tenant should have been made aware ( or at least asked before signing ) of the current approx costs of gas / electric / water chatges where he could have made a decision if those costs were acceptable, bearing in mind change from 4 to one person.

                  I misread your post, hence this further reply.

                  R-a-M

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by ram View Post
                    Look at it another way. You can tell the next tenant that your property is a better rent, as the monthy water rates should be about 30 to 40% cheaper than properties without one. ( assuming fair useage for one or two persons ), so it's in your favour to have a water meter.

                    Another way - It is not your tenant that changed the water meter. He asked the water company how he could reduce his payments, and the water company said they could modify THEIR equipment, belonging to them, free of charge, to meter the water.

                    I have - 2 weeks ago, had a water meter fitted, and got 40% reduction, and i didn't tell the landlord ( Landlord does not care about premises )

                    Yes, i do run a residents management company, but i also rent a flat ( away from Rmc ) so i see both sides of the argument.

                    The Law takes preference over lease, but tenant has to observe the lease, so if you say "Do not have a water meter fitted" then tenant is in breach, but so what, - This time it's a bonus for you next time you look for tenants, so thank you tenant for this ???

                    Some times a breach of the lease, if not serious, and to your future advantage, is sometimes best left alone, although ( and make sure your lease says you must not let the water supplier add a water meter ) write to your tenant and say that he / she should have asked your permission, and say that now you know, that permision is granted; keeps your tenant on his toes, and he'll likely ask next time.

                    Yes, you must observe the lease, but do you want to force your tenant to pay up to 40% more for his water by reverting back ? and risk resentment, possibly backlash from your tenant ?
                    R-a-M

                    Hello RAM, do you think the tenant would have breached the tenancy agreement if he installs a water meter?, the agreement states.

                    The tenant must "Not tamper, interfere with, alter or add to the gas, water or electrical installations or meters, either in or serving the Property".

                    regards
                    jim
                    Last edited by jimdunn; 08-08-2008, 13:15 PM. Reason: CANT SPELL

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jimdunn View Post
                      Hello RAM, do you think the tenant would have breached the tenancy agreement is he installs a water meter?, the agreement states.

                      The tenant must "Not tamper, interfere with, alter or add to the gas, water or electrical installations or meters, either in or serving the Property".

                      regards
                      jim
                      So, yes- T interfering with installation IS a breach. L could even serve a s.8 Notice, using ground 12.
                      JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                      1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                      2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                      3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                      4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                        So, yes- T interfering with installation IS a breach. L could even serve a s.8 Notice, using ground 12.
                        Thanks for your quick reply jeffrey.

                        I spoke to the water board today, they say he has every right in law but say we can call them anytime to ask if a meter is installed. If a meter is installed we will serve notice as you advise.

                        We dont mind the tenant saving money on water bills, we dont want to pay more for water usage in the long term.

                        Also, I believe this could deter future families from renting our house if they find out the house water is metered.

                        thanks again for all you replies

                        jim

                        Comment


                          #13
                          To avoid problem:
                          1. Write to Water Company, expressly prohiibiting T from authorising meter.
                          2. Provide T with copy of letter 1.
                          3. Write to T and tell him/her that requesting meter will trigger L's Notice under ground 12 and/or Injunction proceedings.
                          4. Provide Water Company with copy of letter 3.
                          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by jimdunn View Post
                            Hello RAM, do you think the tenant would have breached the tenancy agreement if he installs a water meter?,
                            Ref my post "Correction" 08-08-2008, 08:27 AM

                            You have the answer in your lease, and jeffrey has been kind enough enlighten you " T interfering with installation IS a breach".

                            However, rather than being heavy handed, reply to the letting agent / tenant that as you are retuning in 12 months, you do not want a water meter fitted, because once fitted, it is irreversable, which is why it was in the lease, for that very purpose.

                            Console him by saying apologies for not supplying costs, but costs were not asked for.
                            Then add all the legal stuff Jeffrey suggests, but repeat as a very last sentence, that you are the next resident ( and owner ) and don't want a water meter and unfortunately, he signed a lease and has to abide by it, so that your house is free from a water meter when you return, but your costs are the same as every one else in your road at present.

                            R-a-M
                            Last edited by ram; 08-08-2008, 14:25 PM. Reason: spelling corrections

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Just be aware that Ground 12 is a DISCRETIONARY ground for a possession order - so you could issue a notice and subsequently take the tenant to court and find that the judge will not give you a possession order on the simple basis of the tenant changing the water charge basis.

                              As suggested, nipping the idea in the bud from the start is the right way to go - i.e. letters as per Jeffrey's post.

                              Comment

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