Electricity Suite Metering and Cost Apportioning

New rules intended to promote energy conservation by allowing tenants to manage their electricity consumption came into effect on January 1, 2011 when the Residential Tenancies Act was amended with the proclamation of sections 137 and 138, the result of the Energy Consumer Protection Act coming into force in 2010. The RTA changes relate to suite metering and the apportionment of electricity costs and impact tenancy agreements that require the tenant to pay electricity costs either directly to a distributor, suite meter provider or through cost apportioning. Highlights of the changes include:

Utilities not Rent – New provisions clearly state that utilities are not rent and the Landlord and Tenant Board will not consider applications involving utilities. Landlords who currently charge rent plus utilities may wish to consider using a distributor or suite meter provider who will bill the tenant directly for the cost of utilities thereby eliminating the challenge of collecting the separate charge.  Should the tenant default or refuse to pay their portion of the electricity costs, the landlord may file a claim in Small Claims Court.

Note: The practice of apportioning (one electricity bill for the property divided among the units) is restricted to properties containing not more than six residential units.

Landlord Responsible for Energy Efficiency Where the landlord provides a refrigerator for the rental unit, the refrigerator must be one that is manufactured on or after January 1, 1994.  Also, when a landlord replaces a refrigerator in a rental unit, the replacement refrigerator must be one that is manufactured on or after December 31, 2002.  This rule does not apply until January 1, 2013 if on October 13, 2010 an existing tenant was being billed by a distributor, suite meter provider or paid an apportioned cost for electricity.

Transferring Responsibility In order to terminate the landlord’s obligation to supply electricity to a sitting tenant, the landlord must provide the tenant with specific information before obtaining their written consent to transfer responsibility.  The information the landlord is required to provide can be found in section 137(4) of the RTA and O. Regulation 394/10 s. 5.  If the tenant consents to the transfer, a 30 day written notice must be provided by the landlord using the prescribed form and the rent will be reduced accordingly.

Electric Heat – When transferring the responsibility to pay for electricity there is an exemption for units that are heated electrically.  If the rental unit is heated electrically, the tenant cannot be required to assume the responsibility to pay for heat.  The landlord will have to separate the cost of heat from other electricity consumption.

Prospective Tenants – Landlords must provide prospective tenants, who will pay for their utilities, with the following:

  • Electricity consumption information for the rental unit and, in some cases, the residential complex, in a form approved by the Landlord and Tenant Board for the 12 month period before they enter into a proposed tenancy agreement;
  • A statement respecting any vacancy during that period; and
  • Information about the refrigerator, date of manufacture and efficiency information.
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