The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 (the ‘Regulations’)
Commercial and domestic property landlords of multi-let properties where heating, cooling or hot water is supplied to tenants through a district or communal heating network are now legally obliged to provide detailed information about those networks to a central body, and to install meters on all affected properties.
The Regulations apply to “Heat Suppliers” which’ is defined as ‘a person (or entity) who supplies and charges for the supply of heating, cooling or hot water to a final customer through communal heating or a district heat network’. This heat supplier could therefore be a developer, management company or a landlord and could include something as simple as a multi-let building with a central boiler providing hot water to taps or radiators for the building occupiers.
The Regulations impose the duties to bill on the basis of consumption, fit meters to measure that consumption and before 31st December 2015 to register as a ‘heat supplier’. In brief the obligations on the heat suppliers are as follows:
- To fit individual meters on multi-occupancy buildings (where more than one final customer is charged for the heat supplied); this is to take place by 31st December 2016 and exemptions are available if the likely cost is excessive.
- To install meters in any newly constructed building or during a major renovation of a building.
- To ensure all billing information is accurate and based on actual consumption, with a customer receiving a bill at least once a year (and potentially quarterly). The bill must also include specified information as set out in the Regulations (eg information on how the bill was calculated, the customer’s final energy consumption, current energy charges, contact information etc). There is no guidance on how this regulation will interact with existing leases. Often the costs of the ‘communal heating networks’ will currently be part of the service charge and the apportionment of the costs may not be based exactly on the tenant’s consumption.
- Before 31st December 2015 (and at least every 4 years thereafter) – to notify the National Measurement Office (‘NMO’ – on behalf of the Secretary of State) of the operation of a communal heating or a district heating network. There is a pro-forma Registration Form available on the government website, which sets out the information required.