Taking a meter reading is about as fun as watching paint dry, but it's conducive to a smooth renting process. Accurate meter readings are important for both yourself and the landlord because they ensure that no one gets an unexpected bill after moving in or out of the home.
If you're starting – or ending – your tenancy, taking the meter reading for the gas and electric might not be high on your list of priorities. For starters, they're usually a pain to locate and are either hidden somewhere outdoors or in a really inconvenient place under the sink or right at the back of an unused cupboard.
But they are necessary to make sure everyone pays the right amount, which is why we've put this guide together detailing everything you need to know about when to take a meter reading in your home. So read on, and become an electricity and gas meter pro with our top tips for taking a reading.
Why you need to take a meter reading
Before moving into a home, previous renters likely lived in the property. And, when you move out, new renters will probably move in. Taking an accurate meter reading stops any confusion over who owes what when it comes to the gas and electric bill.
You don't want to move into your new home, only to find that no one took a meter reading and now you have a bill worth hundreds of pounds for electricity and gas you didn't even use. You'll need to contact the supplier and probably spend a significant amount of time sorting everything out. Likewise, when you move out, you don't want to leave a trail of unpaid utility bills because you didn't provide an accurate reading.
The government has set up an initiative to get all homes using smart meters in the near future, which will eliminate the need to read a meter manually. In the meantime, however, homes without smart meters require manual readings, and here's all the info you need on when to take them…
Before you move in
It's necessary to take an accurate meter reading at the start of a tenancy. Doing so means you will only pay for the gas and electric that you use after the tenancy has started. Typically, landlords or property managers take the meter reading when a tenancy commences, but it's worth doing it yourself just to double-check.
Meter readings usually occur during the check-in process, as this is when everyone is present. It might be worth taking a picture to record the meter readings, which should then go into the inventory. This way, there's no room for dispute over the numbers should any issues arise.
During the tenancy
While meter readings are a requirement at the beginning and end of each tenancy, they're also important during your stay at the property. You may find yourself receiving unexpected bills because the reading isn't accurate if you don't take them.
Suppliers need correct meter readings in order to bill you the right amount for the energy you use. It could be that you're over or underpaying, and by providing a meter reading every three-or-so months, suppliers can ensure that you only pay for what you use.
At the end of the tenancy
Failing to take a meter reading at the end of your tenancy could mean further headaches down the line. Your supplier may continue to bill you for consumption, even though you no longer live in the property.
Therefore, you should take a final meter reading when you leave the property. Again, take note of the reading with a picture like you did during the check-in and notify the supplier as soon as you've left the home. Lastly, provide them with your new address to send outstanding bills if there is still any money owed.
Know your meters
Taking an accurate meter reading means everyone pays what they use, and there shouldn't be any issues regarding payments. You can move in or out of the home without worrying about disputing unfair payments over your energy bills.