Do I have to accept a smart meter?

A poll of 1,000 people who rent found 62 per cent didn’t know they can make a choice as the main bill payer when it comes to having an energy reading device or not.

Lucy Brimble
Sunday 01 October 2023 08:01 BST
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More than six in 10 tenants are unaware they have the right to accept or decline a smart meter.

A poll of 1,000 people who rent found 62 per cent didn’t know they can make a choice as the main bill payer when it comes to having an energy reading device - or not.

And 76 per cent have never asked their landlord if they can have one installed, with 16 per cent not wanting to bother them with the request.

More than one in 10 (11 per cent) think it would be too much hassle to ask their landlord but, if offered one, 59 per cent would be happy to accept it.

It also emerged 51 per cent don’t have a working smart meter in their rental property – meaning residents may be self-rationing or not using any energy, and their supplier will be unable to intervene.

The study was commissioned by Utilita, which has launched the ‘Smart Landlords, Smart Tenants’ campaign to turbo-boost the national smart meter rollout across the private rental sector - ready for what is going to be the hardest winter for millions of tenants.

Campaign ambassador, industry expert and founder of Landlord Action, Paul Shamplina, has shared his advice on the subject giving landlords the need to know facts.

Paul said: “The latest smart meters are a welcome addition to every property, whether it is rented or owned.

“I have to admit, I didn’t know much about smart meters - and I was completely unaware of the role smart meters have as a safety net for households, especially those struggling to make ends meet, making this campaign extremely timely.”

Of those who don’t have a working smart meter, 23 per cent are still waiting for one to be fitted by their supplier.

And 14 per cent haven’t yet been offered the option to have one - despite suppliers being mandated to do so.

Of those who are aware of the smart meter benefits, only 21 per cent knew about the access to money-saving schemes while only 27 per cent realise they support the country’s energy security efforts.

Utilita’s founder and CEO, Bill Bullen, said: “With the affordability crisis continuing to bite and financial resilience at an all-time low, millions more households will need financial assistance from their energy supplier this winter, and without a smart meter, that’s very hard to do.

“Since 2021, we have helped our Smart PAYG+ households access £10 million of energy they couldn’t afford at the time – without a smart meter, these households would have gone without.

“Landlords and tenants, alike, must consider the safety net that smart meters provide, not to mention all the other benefits.

“The ‘Smart Landlords, Smart Tenants’ campaign is calling for landlords and letting agents to be proactive in letting tenants know they are happy for a smart meter to be installed - this can be a simple text message which takes a few seconds but could make all the difference.”

Five things landlords know:

1. SUPPLIERS ARE MANDATED TO OFFER A SMART METER - Energy suppliers are required to offer a free smart meter installation to every customer.

2. BILL PAYER’S RIGHT - Whoever pays the energy supplier is entitled to have a smart meter installed.

3. FASTER SWITCHING - Smart meter technology and their networks have evolved so switching suppliers is quicker and easier than it was previously.

4. CHOOSE HOW TO PAY - Once a smart meter is installed, the bill payer can switch between PAYG and credit payment modes where credit checks allow.

5. PAYG ENERGY MODERNISED - Old-style prepay meters can leave households at risk of going without the energy they need but top-ups and much more can be done via the supplier’s app.

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