If you live in a multi-unit complex (apartments, condos, mobile home park), you may have your smart meter read by the complex or park management rather than the electric company.
This is called “sub-metering.”
In other cases, you may not have a separate meter for your unit. So instead you may be billed for your electricity based on your unit’s physical size.
This is called “nonsubmetered master metering.”
In either case, because the billing works differently than it normally would, you have special rights and your landlord has certain responsibilities.
Take a look at some of the highlights to make sure you get fair treatment:
1. How Your Usage Should Be Charged
Submetered costs are calculated by adding the total charges for electricity usage and any tax, and then dividing that by the total number of kWhs used. This gives you an average cost per kWh.
This average cost should then be multiplied by your kWh consumption.
If your landlord does anything differently than that, they’re violating your rights and could be charging you for electricity you don’t actually use.
2. How Billing Must Work
The Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) outlines exactly what must appear on your electric bill if you are a submetered tenant.
Your bill must include:
If your payment is late, your landlord can charge a maximum of 5% of the total amount due, and no more.
Your landlord may disconnect your electricity if you don’t pay, but they must give you at least 5 days’ notice before doing so.
On top of all that, your property manager must keep records of your complex’s electric bills, how they calculated your average cost of electricity, submetering reports, and submetering tests for the current month and previous 12 months.
You also have the right to inspect those reports during normal business hours or at a time to which you and your landlord agree.
3. What If You Have a Dispute?
You do have protection if you want to dispute something your landlord is doing related to submetering.
First, you must file a complaint with the owner. They then have 30 days to respond.
If you’re not happy with the landlord’s response, you can call the PUC’s Customer Protection Division at 1-888-782-8477 or visit their website.
Submetering floats under the radar. But now you know the basics. If you want to know your full rights, visit the Public Utility Commission’s website.