Smart Meters: Pros and Cons for Letting Agents and What You Need to Know
A company that promotes smart meters says that letting agents are confusing tenants over changing to smart meters. SmartEnergyGB found that less than half of agents included a clause in tenancy agreements that explicitly stated renters could install a smart meter, and a fifth of tenants assumed their landlord would not allow them permission. But what are the rules and have you considered the smart meters pros and cons? This article will tell you all you need to know.
What Are Smart Meters?
Starting with the basics, a smart meter is a device that automatically measures the amount of gas and electricity your property uses, sending the details directly to your energy company. This means you don’t have to read and submit them yourself. It also means the supplier won’t rely on estimated readings to guess the amount of energy used in your property.
In addition, the meter contains a digital display that shows the real-time usage and the cost of that energy use. This allows occupiers to cut back on those appliances that eat through energy, reducing their bills at the end of the month.
By 2025, all households in the UK will be offered the chance to have a smart meter. It doesn’t cost any extra, the bill for the national rollout is picked up through everybody’s energy payments.
Can Tenants Have Smart Meters Installed?
Whether tenants can have smart meters installed depends on who pays the energy bills. If they are the account holder, it is their choice as to whether or not they accept the new technology. If the landlord pays the bills, it is up to them. The energy company will often encourage the tenant to inform their letting agent or landlord if they plan on having a smart meter installed.
Smart Meters: Pros and Cons
There are a number of smart meters pros and cons to consider for letting agents and landlords. The positives are:
An end to estimated bills. This means that the bill payer is constantly on top of their usage. With non-smart meters, a tenant could continually pay estimated bills when their actual usage was much higher, leaving them with a gigantic bill at the end of the tenancy to balance the account. If they cannot afford this, you might have to withhold their deposit or even lose out on money-making the account right before the next tenant.
Less work involved for tenants. No longer do tenants have to root around in the dark to read their meters, the smart meter does it for them and sends the data to the energy company.
Green credentials. Environmentally minded prospective tenants will welcome the presence of a smart meter in your property as it allows them to track their energy usage and ensure they are not wasting it on inefficient appliances.
Alert to problems. If an appliance is consuming an unusually large amount of energy, the occupier will be able to spot it sooner rather than later. Without a smart meter, you would have to wait until the next bill came through to spot any unusual patterns.
Here are the cons of installing a smart meter in a rental property:
No uniformity. Currently, many of the energy companies require a different type of smart meter from each other. This means you might have to change the meter any time you change the supplier. Occasionally you can keep using the smart meter with a new supplier, but it loses its smart capabilities.
Technology not working. Some households have discovered that their smart meters do not work on their property. This is something that suppliers are working on, but could be a real frustration for anyone installing the device.
Want to Add a Smart Meter Clause in a Tenancy Agreement?
Although by law it is up to the bill payer whether or not they install a smart meter, even if they do not own the property, some tenants are still unclear about their rights. Adding a smart meter clause in a tenancy agreement is not strictly necessary, but it could help renters make a decision in full knowledge of the facts. And, after reading the smart meters pros and cons, you will see there are many advantages to them installing one in a rental property.
Drawing up tenancy agreements is just one element of our property management services. Our outsourcing option is designed to save you time and effort whilst ensuring your landlords and tenants are happy. Contact us today to find out more.