Every home in the UK will be offered a smart meter by 2020. If you're a renter or a landlord, you are probably wondering how this affects you. We explain all in this guide so keep reading below to learn more about smart meters and what the potential pros and cons are.
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Can I have a smart meter if I’m a renter?
Yes. As long as you are the account holder for the energy bills, you are entitled to ask for a smart meter from your supplier without your landlord's permission.
However, Ofgem recommends telling your landlord before getting one and, if your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to structurally alter your property, "your landlord or letting agency should not unreasonably prevent it."
Read more from Ofgem on tenancy rights in regard to smart meters.
Please note if your landlord is the account holder and pays the energy bills directly, the decision remains with him or her as the account holder.
Smart meters for landlords
As a landlord, if you pay the energy bills directly for your tenants (e.g., you are the account holder), then you will be the one to confirm your supplier's request to install a new smart meter to your property. You are also entitled to request a smart meter for your property from your supplier.
If your tenant pays the bills directly (e.g. he or she is the account holder), then the tenant is entitled to accept and authorise a smart meter installation in your property. The tenant will be advised to give you a head’s up so that you’re aware of the works taking place.
Find out more about what to expect when your smart meter is fitted in our guide. Smart meter installation process.
Benefits of smart meters for renters and tenants
Unsure whether a smart meter makes sense for your household? Read more about it in our guide to smart meters or continue reading below:
- No more estimated bills Say "so long" to estimated bills, and only pay what you actually owe each month.
- No more climbing around in dark cupboards Your smart meter automatically sends your consumption to your supplier so you don’t have to crawl into dark cupboards or tip toe on tall ladders to glimpse your meter anymore.
- Fewer arguments with flatmates No more nasty surprises from a sky-high energy bill. With a smart meter in-home display, you can see exactly what your spend is hour by hour, and see your energy use in near-real time.
- Better understanding of your energy consumption Switching energy supplier is much easier the better you understand your bills and usage. Smart meters can help unlock some of the confusion by ensuring your bills are no longer estimated and providing you with a way to see how your day-to-day life impacts your bills.
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Disadvantages of smart meters for renters and landlords
There are also a few drawbacks to installing a smart meter in your home, whether you're a landlord or a renter:
- Technical issues not ironed out In some cases, households with smart meters have reported that the technology has not worked in the way it should, with devices not always linking up and offering the 'smart' benefits they were expecting.
- Data and privacy concerns There are fears about the way energy suppliers might use customers' data in future. However, Ofgem has put in place rules to ensure energy customers can control how their data is used. Unless you opt otherwise, supplier can only access your smart meter data to ensure accurate billing (e.g. access your usage). You will have to provide permission to your supplier before they can use the data to market products or services to you (e.g. to offer you a tariff more suitable to your needs).
- Different smart meters for different suppliers The lack of uniformity among energy suppliers’ smart meters means that when you switch you might have to get a different smart meter installed, which might come at an extra cost. You might be able to continue with the same smart meter, but in some cases your smart meter will lose its ‘smart’ functionality once it starts operating with a different supplier.
Ultimately, choosing whether or not to get a smart meter installed is up to you. Weigh up the pros and cons and see if it helps you manage your bills better or simply opt to stick with the standard meter.
If you're concerned about your bills being too high, then run an energy comparison today to see if you can find a better deal in your area.