Landlords may be required to install heat meters before the end of this year.
In a previous tip we highlighted the requirement for landlords of existing buildings supplying heating to more than one occupier through a communal system to register certain information required by the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 by 31 December 2015 (see "A Last Minute Reprieve"). In the case of new buildings, this information must be provided to the National Measurement Office by the time the heating system is first operated.
The next key date under the Regulations is 31 December 2016 by when heat meters must be fitted to all existing and new communal heating systems (provided it is cost effective and technically feasible to do so). When entering into a new lease with an occupier, you should therefore ensure sufficient rights are reserved by the lease to allow access to the premises for this purpose and if possible include provisions permitting the recovery of the cost of such works through the service charge.
The Regulations also require that heat costs billed to the end user must be accurate and based on actual consumption and the bill should include certain information such as current energy prices, comparisons with previous energy use and contact information for the heat supplier. New leases should therefore also include the ability to recover the costs incurred in obtaining and providing this information.
Non-compliance with the Regulations can result in a fine of up to £5,000 per offence.