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Modify a coin meter for new £1 coin and risk a £5000 fine

Friday 28 April 2017

Do any of your properties still use coin sub-meters to charge tenants for gas and electricity? These will not work after 15 October 2017 when old pound coins cease to be legal tender, and many landlords and agents might be tempted to remove the old meters to modify them.

However, the legislation changed in October 2016 and it is now illegal to “put in use” a non-MID approved meter to measure electricity or gas consumption.  

Non-MID sub-meters which are already in operation are legal so long as they are accurate, but reinstalling them after a modification or a repair is illegal.  The fine is up to £5,000 and it would be difficult to conceal this illegal act from a disgruntled tenant, and the fine can be lodged against an agent as well as the landlord.

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MID approved gas and electricity meters can be identified by their specific markings, as required under the directive. These consist of the CE marking, the MID marking which is made up of the letter ‘M’ and then the year of manufacture (for example a meter manufactured in 2011 would have the following MID marking M11) and a four-digit code representing the notified body that approved and verified the meter. If the meter does not display these markings, it is not MID approved. Full information is available on the Government website, www.gov.uk/guidance/mid-approved-gas-and-electricity-meters.

In practice, only meters less than a few years old are going to be MID approved.  The same will apply to old DigiCard meters.

Coin meters are not ideal.  Tenants need a stash of coins which then have to be collected.  They are mechanical and unreliable and notoriously easy to fiddle.  And in all probability, as they age they will run slow costing the landlord money. 

Fortunately, there are now variety of better solutions on the market. For instance, Gary Wernick from Landlord Metering said: “We offer a unique solution to landlords – providing them with ‘better than free’ smart sub-meters which are topped up via the phone or the internet using a debit or credit card.  Our tariffs for tenants undercut all of the major suppliers’ prepayment tariffs”.  Further information on the Landlord Metering can be found by visiting their website www.landlordmetering.com.