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HMO Landlords Guidance

Smart Meters: Information for HMO landlords

If you’re an HMO landlord you might have been offered a smart meter by your electricity or gas supplier. Alternatively, your tenants, if they pay their own energy bills, may have told you they want to get smart meters fitted.

Below you’ll find some basic information about smart meters. We’ve then produced impartial guidance for landlords and tenants in different types of HMO. Print out and share the tenants’ guidance with the residents of your HMOs.


1. What is a smart meter?

A smart meter is a modern electricity or gas meter that sends automatic readings to the energy supplier – removing the need for estimated bills or for meter readers to visit the house regularly. Every home in the country will be offered a smart meter to replace their existing gas and electricity meters, between now and 2020.

2. What is the in-home display?

Every smart meter is issued with an in-home display device (one device per home for both electricity and gas use) which enables the household to track energy use and energy expenditure in their home.

3. What are the advantages of a smart meter?

The main advantage of the smart meter is more accurate bills. The in-home display makes it easier to manage and control costs of energy in the home. In time, it will be possible to connect smart meters to different advanced (“smart”) energy services that can help reduce bills further (for example by offering discounts depending on the time of day that you use energy). For pre-payment customers, smart meters can offer a wider range of pre-payment methods. When customers switch from paying their energy bills on a contract to pre-payment, there will also be no need to change the meter, as there is currently.

4. How much does a smart meter cost?

There is no charge for having a smart meter fitted (though the costs of the overall roll-out will be borne by all energy customers).

5. When will I get a smart meter?

The installation of smart meters is undertaken by energy suppliers with their own customers. Different households in the same neighbourhood will therefore be offered smart meters at different times between now and 2020.

6. Who decides whether to get a smart meter installed in rented properties?

Gas and electricity meters in your properties belong to the energy supplier. It is the bill-payer’s decision whether or not to replace the existing gas and electricity meters with smart meters. The bill payer can contact the energy supplier to ask for the smart meters to be fitted, or the supplier may contact the bill payer.
Therefore, if your tenants are the energy bill payers, it is their decision whether or not to have smart meters installed. However, tenants may be in breach of tenancy agreements if this happens without the landlord’s consent – it is important in all PRS situations therefore that both tenants and landlords are happy to have the meter installed. The energy company will need access to your property to install the meter.

7. Can the landlord use the In-home display to monitor energy use in their rented properties?

As part of the installation process, the bill payer will be given an in-home display device to help them monitor energy use. This is wirelessly linked to – and locked to – the meters in that property. It only has a range to cover the house and its immediate vicinity. Accordingly, it is only useful for tenants to track their own energy use (it’s range is not sufficient for it to be used by landlords to monitor energy use remotely).

8. Can a meter be moved at the time of the smart meter installation?

Yes, you can ask for the meter to be moved. If the landlord and/or the tenants requests for the meter to be moved, then the landlord will need to pay for any additional costs for this. If on the other hand the installer says they need to move the meter then the supplier may consider bearing the cost (suppliers are obliged by their regulator to make reasonable efforts to install smart meters).

9. What about if tenants lose the in-home display (IHD)? Can it be replaced? How much will this cost?

If you are a landlord paying the energy bills the IHD is your responsibility and we recommend adding it to the property inventory. Where tenants pay the bills it is their responsibility to pass the IHD to future tenants when they move out. Different suppliers will make different arrangements (cost etc) for the replacement of lost IHDs.

10. What about landlords with their own submetering arrangements in HMOs?

As part of the smart metering roll-out the energy company will only be able to replace the meter that belongs to them and which measures the supply of energy from the national grid into the property. The smart meter installer will not replace any sub-meters, and it will be landlords’ responsibility to ensure that sub-meters continue to work effectively with the new smart meters. Most landlords have now moved away from sub-meters in individual bedsits/studio flats, preferring individual pre-payment meters supplied by the energy companies.

11. What about larger HMOs and hostels where all energy bills are managed and paid for by the landlord?

Energy use in this situation is likely to be classed as non-domestic. Smart meters are only available for free as part of the national smart meter roll out for domestic customers. Contact your energy supplier to discuss how you can benefit from the latest non-domestic metering technologies.


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