smart meters everything landlords should know

Smart Meters: Everything Landlords Should Know

Get the facts and find answers to the most frequently asked questions about smart meters, so you can make an informed decision for your energy needs.

Energy providers claim they have successfully installed smart meters in the majority of interested households, but they are encountering resistance from some others.

Smart meters are designed to transform the way we monitor and pay for energy usage. However, with delays in their rollout plan, you might not have had a chance to get one installed on your property or may be feeling unsure about it.

To keep you well-informed, we’ve compiled a list of 10 frequently asked questions about smart meters that every landlord should have the answers to.

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1. What is a smart meter?

Smart meters replace traditional meters, monitoring your energy usage and sending the data straight to your energy provider. Once it’s set up, there’s no more need for you or your tenants to manually record the property’s energy usage.

You’ll have separate smart meters for gas and electricity, plus an in-home display, allowing your tenants to track how much energy they’re using in real-time and what it’s costing them.

Energy suppliers are legally obligated to offer a free smart meter installation to every customer. This rule isn’t just a suggestion; it’s the law. 

The goal is to encourage the widespread adoption of smart meters across England, Scotland and Wales, giving consumers access to this technology.

As a landlord, you can also leverage smart meters to further boost the energy efficiency of your rental properties.

2. Can my tenants get a smart meter without my permission?

When it comes to smart meters, the right to have one installed belongs to the person paying the energy bills at your property.

It’s important to know that if your tenants handle the bills they can request and receive a smart meter installation, without your permission.

However, it’s always best for both parties to maintain an open line of communication when it comes to such decisions.

what does a smart meter look like?
This is what a smart meter looks like once it’s installed.

If you’re the bill-payer, you do have the option to decline a smart meter. However, if your energy supplier deems it necessary to replace your outdated meter due to safety concerns, you might not be able to refuse.

You can also request your supplier to install an energy meter with the additional functions turned off, also known as ‘dumb mode’.

This setup enables the smart meter to operate similarly to a traditional meter without transmitting any information to your supplier.

3. Do I have to pay for a smart meter?

No, the installation of a smart meter is free. An engineer will come to your home, remove your traditional meters, and replace them with new smart meters, all at no cost to you.

4. Do I need an internet connection to get a smart meter?

No, you don’t need Wi-Fi or an internet connection for a smart meter. Smart meters transmit readings to suppliers through a dedicated smart network.

5. Do smart meters offer a pay as you go service?

Like traditional meters, smart meters offer tenants the freedom to pick their preferred payment method for their energy bills.

Once a smart meter is installed, bill-payers can effortlessly switch between Pay As You Go (PAYG) and credit payment modes, provided they pass the necessary credit checks.

This level of flexibility lets your tenants manage their energy costs in a way that aligns with their financial situation.

Your tenants can also enjoy the convenience of topping up their energy credit using the supplier’s mobile app and other user-friendly methods.

Not only does this simplify the process, but it also minimises the risk of households running out of energy unexpectedly.

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6. Do smart meters make switching energy suppliers harder?

One of the perks of smart meters is how they’ve simplified the process of switching energy suppliers.

Thanks to advancements in technology and network infrastructure, your tenants can now switch providers more easily, without any interruption to energy readings or bill payments.

This newfound flexibility can make your rental more appealing to potential tenants, as it empowers them to make choices that suit their needs and preferences.

7. What data are smart meters collecting about my property?

The data collected by smart meters is protected by law. They solely gather information concerning your property’s gas and electricity usage and the specific energy tariff in effect.

Moreover, they don’t collect any personally identifiable information, such as the names or addresses of you or your tenants, nor do they save any financial details like bank account information.

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8. Do smart meters spy on my tenants?

No, a smart meter is incapable of intruding on your tenants’ privacy any more than a traditional meter could.

It lacks the ability to ‘see’ or ‘hear’, functioning solely to measure the energy consumption of your property.

9. Can energy suppliers cut off power whenever they want?

No. The functionality of smart meters in receiving and transmitting information to suppliers doesn’t grant them the authority to disconnect your property’s energy supply more easily.

The same strict rules that apply to traditional meters also protect you and your tenants.

10. Are smart meters a health risk?

Smart meters use radio waves or a mobile signal to send meter readings to your energy supplier, similar to how baby monitors and mobile devices work.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) states that this falls well within the accepted guidelines for wireless transmission devices and is much lower than the levels from other everyday devices, like mobile phones and Wi-Fi equipment.

This article is not intended to form legal or investment advice. Investments in property are not guaranteed and can decrease in value as well as increase.

Law & Regulation
21 January 2022

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