Accurate meter readings are incredibly important for both tenants and landlords; they ensure that tenants are provided with accurate billing and landlords are not chased for payment of energy that was used by their tenants.
There’s currently a Government backed incentive for all homes and small businesses to have smart meters by 2020, which will eliminate manual readings read more. In the meantime, taking readings manually is essential.
At the start of your tenancy
Taking accurate meter readings at the start of a tenancy are necessary as they ensure that the right person is paying for the energy consumed during occupancy.
For example, if you begin a tenancy without informing the energy company and you don’t provide an accurate meter reading, you can quickly become in debt, as the energy provider estimates your usage based on previous tenants. They may also send the bills directly to your landlord which isn't a great start to you tenant/landlord relationship.
As a result, it’s recommended that you take accurate meter readings at the check-in stage of your tenancy, if possible with your lettings agent present.
It’s also worth making a note of the readings on your signed inventory or take pictures of your meter readings with timestamps, so there’s no room for dispute.
During the tenancy
During your tenancy, ensure that you take meter readings regularly and update your energy provider with the new readings; otherwise you could be hit with an unexpected bill. If suppliers don’t have accurate readings then they’ll calculate estimates based on past consumption.
If you feel like you’re overpaying, take your own meter reading and compare this to the estimated reading on your next bill. If there’s a substantial difference in these figures, contact the energy company immediately.
This process should be done regularly because, if the estimated reading’s lower than your actual reading, you could face a bill for the difference when you leave the property.
Dealing with disputes
Any problems that you have with your billing, should first be directed to your energy provider. If you need further help or advice you may find the below links of interest:
Energy ombudsman as a last resort if your supplier is unable to resolve your complaint.
At the end of the tenancy
It’s very important to take meter readings at the end of your tenancy and notify your provider that you will be moving out. If you fail to do this, you may keep getting charged for energy that someone else is using. Don't forget to leave the provider with a forwarding address, so they can send you a final bill.
As with the start of your tenancy, make a note of or take a photograph of, the final readings and include them with your signed inventory when you hand the keys back to your landlord or lettings agent.
By following this advice you are likely to maintain a good relationship with your lettings agency and landlord and not have any unwanted 'surprise' bills to pay.