Ontario’s new suite meter rules, which allow tenants to contract directly with a utility provider for electric service in a rental property, become effective in January.
The Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board has provided information to help landlords better understand the benefits and responsibilities regarding metering in rental units.
Here’s a summary of key points in this new legislation:
What are suite meters?
Suite meters are electrical meters that a landlord can install in residential rental units to measure how much electricity is used by each unit in a building. Where a suite meter is installed in a unit, the meter records only the amount of electricity used by that specific unit.
What must a landlord do to change to suite meters?
Rules for current tenants
Before a current tenant can become responsible to pay a suite meter provider for the cost of providing electricity to the tenant’s unit, a landlord must get the tenant’s consent in writing. A form entitled “Tenant Agreement to Pay Directly for Electricity Costs” is available on the LTB website. This form requires a number of disclosures, including a calculation of how much the tenant’s rent will be reduced if the tenant agrees to this change and pays for electricity directly from the provider. The landlord must also include information about the suite meter provider’s fees, policies including security deposits, and other information. Where there are currently co-tenants residing in the rental property, each tenant must sign the consent form.
A landlord does not need a current tenant’s consent to install a suite meter. However, a landlord must get the tenant’s consent before the landlord can tell the suite meter provider to start billing the tenant directly for the electricity costs for the tenant’s unit.
If the tenant consents to start paying their own electricity costs, the tenant will complete the agreement form and return it to the landlord. Before transferring the responsibility for electricity costs to the tenant, the landlord must give the tenant at least 30 days notice before the changes takes effect. That notice form, entitled “Landlord’s Notice to Terminate Obligation to Supply Electricity” is available on the LTB website.
If the tenant does not consent to start paying their own electricity costs, the landlord will continue to be responsible for providing and paying for the tenant’s electricity, even though the landlord may have installed a suite meter in the tenant’s rental unit.
Rules for prospective tenants
Before entering into a tenancy agreement with a prospective tenant which requires the tenant to pay for their own electricity costs, a landlord must provide the prospective tenant with information about the electrical usage for the unit and about the electrical efficiency of the refrigerator. This information must be for the most recent 12 month period. The landlord must let the prospective tenant know if the unit was vacant during that time and, if it was vacant, for how long.
Landlords can use the form entitled “Information to Prospective Tenant About Suite Meters or Meters”, available on the LTB website.
Special rules for electric heat
If electricity is the primary source of power to heat a rental unit, a landlord cannot terminate their obligation to supply electric heat. However, if there is a separate meter to measure the electricity for other uses in the rental unit, the landlord and tenant can agree to transfer the responsibility for paying the electricity costs for these other uses.
Additional Things You Should Know About Suite Meters
Rules about installing a suite meter
If a landlord decides to install a suite meter in a rental unit, the RTA requires the landlord to tell a current tenant when and for how long the supply of electricity to the tenant’s unit will be interrupted. Although the landlord doesn’t need the current tenant’s consent to install a suite meter in the tenant’s unit, the landlord must also provide at least 24 hours written notice before the electrical supply is interrupted, specify in the notice the date and time between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. when the interruption will occur, and set out the amount of time that the landlord believes the tenant’s unit will be without electricity.
Information about the Ontario Energy Board (OEB)
The landlord must give the tenant contact information in writing for the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). The landlord must also give the tenant a written statement that tells the tenant that they can contact the OEB if the tenant has a dispute with the suite meter provider.
For more information about suite metering, contact the LTB.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.