Can we switch off the electricity

by Readers Question

14:12 PM, 15th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Can we switch off the electricity

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Can we switch off the electricity

Our landlord has rented out the garage at the back of the property, adjacent to the house, 4.5 metres away to be precise.candle

However we also rent the front shop off him and via a sub meter we feed the garage, which we don’t want to do, we have to do a separate bill and charge them. We really don’t like the situation, which is not great on our behalf as we live at the property and look at the garage and the guys don’t leave until 7/8pm.

Then the council have stepped in and he has no planning permission to let out the garage, so is now in breach, which he will contest.

What I want to know if anyone can HELP is, if they are operating out of a garage and we are supplying electricity from our shop to the garage, through no fault or wish of our own, are we within our rights to turn off the electricity, are we breaking the law by supplying the garage or who is breaking the law if any.

Many thanks

Andy



Comments

David Price

10:28 AM, 16th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Why not replace the sub meter with a prepayment meter? If it is a garage then I believe that the rules about not making a profit on the electricity do not apply, charge what you like.

Mandy Thomson

14:51 PM, 16th September 2016
About 2 years ago

While I don't like the sound of this landlord, or his expecting his tenant to pay for his electricity (though is the practice different with commercial tenancies?), I would caution you to tread carefully here as you're dependent on this person for both your home and your business premises (and possibly your livelihood) unless you're confident that you can find alternate accommodation for both purposes.

It's my understanding that living accommodation rented together with business premises (e.g. a flat over a shop) is normally let on the same business lease, which offers much less protection from eviction than an assured shorthold tenancy (the type of agreement most English and Welsh residential tenancies are let under).

Rob Crawford

15:41 PM, 16th September 2016
About 2 years ago

I would suggest that you write a formal letter to the landlord, short and to the point. Make sure he is aware that the garage electrical supply is sourced via the metre in the property that you occupy and that you want a contribution to costs already incurred. Also that you want a solution to ensure electricity used by the garage is sourced via a different metre. If that doesn't work seek the help of a solicitor. You could always turn the electricity off at the consumer unit or circuit breaker assigned to the garage. The user of the garage would then have to come to you to switch it on, this will give you the opportunity to negotiate or at least explain the problem to them. If both parties put pressure on the landlord you would have a greater chance of success.
Rob Crawford recently posted...Bath and Bristol Councils’ plan blanket HMO Licensing across the cities

Kate Mellor

16:12 PM, 16th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "16/09/2016 - 14:51":

Actually, I believe the protection for commercial tenancies has been improved markedly in recent years and unless their tenancy specifically contracts out of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (security of tenure), and does so in the correct way, then the assumption is that the tenancy WILL be renewed except under very specific circumstances. If it isn't renewed and the reason doesn't fall into an allowable category then the tenant can apply to the court to force the landlord to renew the tenancy.

With regards the electricity issue, I know from experience where we had a flat and shop on a single supply with a sub meter fitted that it was an extremely 'dear do' to get the supply properly split. I'm talking thousands and it's not like you can shop around... We put a coin meter on the flat and kept the supply in our own name and billed the shop tenant for her part of the supply and emptied the coin meter monthly. I don't think this landlord is expecting the shop tenant to cover the garages bills, but they just have the bother of administering the process themselves which really the landlord should agree to do if he really wants to save himself the cost of splitting the supply.

Kate Mellor

16:44 PM, 16th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Andy, why do you want to turn off the electricity to the garage? Is it a form of protest because you aren't happy that it's being let out (for the reasons you mention in your question)? Or because you are concerned YOU may be breaking the law by supplying the electricity, which appears to be part of your question...

You clearly are NOT breaking the law and neither is the landlord in regard to the supply of electricity to the property, that is an irrelevance to the issue of whether the landlord has the correct approval to let out the garage or not. In your position I would NOT turn off the electricity because it will not be helpful in any way to your cause.

I don't know where you would stand legally if you were to turn it off, but it is not this businesses fault that your landlord did not have proper approval to let out the garage to them. How would you feel in their shoes if your business wasn't able to function because they controlled your supply and they decided to turn it off? It could cause things to become very heated and could lead to both verbal and physical aggression. Additionally, your landlord could look to evict you for breach of your lease if he can find a term (such as neighbour nuisance) he can accuse you of.

The best way forward for you in my opinion is to raise the issue of the meter direct with your landlord - in writing - and request that the landlord either splits the supply; installs a coin meter in the garage to which you are given the key so that you are not having to bill the other tenant; or, that he takes the supply back into his own name and that he administers the individual billing process. I think it is unlikely he will agree to split the supply because it is so expensive to do, but the other two options are more than reasonable in my opinion.

Out of interest, Eon is now offering to install Smart Meters for free which are read remotely. So if your landlord takes back the supply the bill for the property will be accurate every time and you could simply put a reminder on your phone to read the sub-meter on the same day each month and text the read to your landlord thereby eliminating the need for you to be disturbed by people coming into the property to take the readings.

Additionally you should speak to the planning officer at the Council for advice and ask what the relevant grounds for objecting to the grant of this planning permission are and write a carefully worded letter objecting to the granting of the planning approval and using all the relevant grounds you can find. I'm assuming he's now submitted a retrospective application which you will be able to access online.


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