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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tenants & water meters

Many tenants who are responsible for paying their water bills will look at reducing their bill by getting a water meter. Can they do that? Well not unless there fixed term tenancy is for more than 6 months under the provisions of the Water Industry Act 1999. Then they may be able to install a water meter unless the tenancy agreement states otherwise. It is normal that the tenancy agreement requires that the tenant should obtain consent from the landlord first before approaching the water company to obtain a water meter.

The difficulty for a landlord is that once a water meter has been installed it can only be removed by paying the water company to do this (not cheap). I generally would advise that landlords should refuse consent unless the tenant is bound to procure (and pay for) meter removal when the tenancy ends.

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Anonymous said...

Recently advised that once a water meter has been installed it cannot be removed. Apparently it can only be converted to a "sleeping meter" by the tenant who requested it then once the tenant moves the new tenant(s) would be automatically charged on a meter.

Anonymous said...

Because once it is done it can't be reversed - shouldn't the landlord really be weighing the following pros / cons :

1) Impact on getting NEXT tenants in with a water meter (versus without a water meter)...

For some tenants it may matter, some it won't big house big family may be better having fixed rate small house, low number of occupants may be better having it metered ?

Also fixed rate charge is based on poll tax bands (I think) so if you rent out a quaint cottage in a posh area you may be paying more with a fixed water bill than if you had a meter ...

2) Wanting to keep your current (hopefully) long term tenants "happy" renting from you...

3)At a later date impact on resale value for the property if the property was put up for sale.

*** Can someone else weigh-in on this please ***


Graeme Finlayson said...

I realise this is an old discussion, however as a tenant I have recently come across this issue.

I also work for a large water company...

Your advice to landlords to refuse consent to a tenant to move to a metered supply is incorrect.

Provided a tenancy agreement is for more than 6 months, the Landlord may not prevent the tenant from having a water meter installed.

You also cannot use clauses in the tenancy agreement to prevent a tenant from having a water meter installed. Any clauses in the agreement which seek to place restrictions regarding water metering are overruled by legislation.

Section 11 of the Water Industry Act 1999 conferred additional rights to tenants by inserting an additional Section 209A into the original 1991 Water Industry Act.

Hope this clarifies things.

11 Rights of tenants in relation to metering.

After section 209 of the Water Industry Act 1991, there is inserted—
“209A Rights of tenants in relation to metering.

(1)Subject to subsection (3) below, no express or implied term of any tenancy is to be regarded—

(a)as excluding or restricting the exercise by the tenant of any right to give—

(i)a measured charges notice under section 144A above, or

(ii)any consent for the purposes of section 144B(2)(a)(ii) above,

(b)as preventing the installation or connection, in pursuance of such a notice or consent given by the tenant, of a meter for use in determining the charges which may be fixed in relation to water supplied to the premises comprised in the tenancy, or

(c)as requiring any consent to be obtained in relation to such installation or connection.

(2)In subsection (1) above “tenancy” includes a licence which is treated as a tenancy by virtue of section 79(3) of the Housing Act 1985; and references to a “tenant” are to be construed accordingly.

(3)Subsection (1) above does not apply where the tenancy is a fixed term tenancy for a term of less than six months; and for this purpose “fixed term tenancy” means any tenancy other than a periodic tenancy.”

Unknown said...

Sorry this is a very old thread but our tenant, who was only in our property for the 6 month fixed term agreement and then moved out put in a water meter despite us telling her we did not want one only a week earlier (the week she moved in). It is a 3 bedroom family house. Why she moved to a property where she could not afford the bills or manage the stairs is beyond me! 3 days before our next tenants moved in (a family with young children) I discovered the water meter had been installed at the beginning of her tenancy without our knowledge. I was shocked. We saw her several times through her tenancy and she never told us the meter had been installed. Northumbria Water have refused to remove it stating that only the tenant who put it in can request its removal and in any case they have the right to change it back again to a meter when the tenant moves out! (It's my house !). I have been put in an awkward and worrying position because I told the new tenant there was no meter when showing him round and then 2 days before he moved in I had to tell him there was a meter. I was so worried this would make him pull out and totally undermines trust. This previous tenant has put us in the terrible position of now having a much less rentable and sellable property to families. I am so angry she put just 6 months of slightly cheaper bills as more important than the long term problems we will now have with this. I also  feel the wording is confusing. People say that if a tenant has a tenancy agreement of longer than 6 months, they have a right to put in a meter without consent. This should read '6 months or more' because our fixed agreement was only for 6 months and she moved out shortly after (2 weeks later) when we were then on a month by month agreement. Northumbrian water said the a 6 month agreement was a long term tenancy!

Graeme Finlayson said...

It's a bit naughty of a tenant to install a meter if the tenancy was only for 6 months without notifying you, however she acted within her legal rights as did the water undertaker. There's no confusion in the wording -
(3)Subsection (1) above does not apply where the tenancy is a fixed term tenancy for a term of less than six months; and for this purpose “fixed term tenancy” means any tenancy other than a periodic tenancy.”
A fixed-term tenancy of 6 months allows the tenant to install a meter, a fixed-term tenancy of less than 6 months or a periodic tenancy does not.

As a landlord, if you want to prevent a meter from being installed, the only way to do that is to offer only a periodic tenancy or restrict the duration of a fixed-term tenancy to less than 6 months.