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Installing a new landlord's supply for communal areas in a small block of leasehold flats - who to contact?

  • 20 April 2021
  • 7 replies
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We have acquired the freehold of a property with  6 leaseholders. There is no separate  electricity supply for the communal areas.  Instead the supply for communal  lighting, sockets emergency lighting, smoke alarms etc.   is all taken from and paid for by  one or other of the leasehold properties.   So we want to rewire the property  installing an extra meter in the switch room  through which  all the power for the communal areas will be taken. The total electricity consumption  for the property should not change and on that basis we have been told the existing  3 phase supply to the property  will be adequate for the purpose.  

How should we proceed?

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Best answer by Transparent 20 April 2021, 22:41

Hi @DavidHughN - I don’t see any problem with achieving what you’re after.

Coincidentally I spent this morning chatting with the Area Network Manager for my Distribution Network Operator (DNO) over a long cup of coffee in the sunshine. Communal energy was one of the topics we addressed!

You will need a new Service Fuse to be provided by your DNO. The meter to attach to this must be provided by an Energy Supplier who is authorised to provide new supplies. OVO isn’t one of these, but their sister-company, SSE, can do this work.

Check the map on our topic about Distribution Network Operators and contact them first. They will already have a map showing the supply to your location and are generally very efficient.

And please fill out your Forum Profile page. That’s where I looked first to find out where you were!

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Hey there @DavidHughN !

This is definitely a great question. And it does make a lot of sense to split things up. Ideally, each property should have it’s own completely independent supply/meter from all the others and the communal areas anyway. That way, if someone doesn’t pay their bill and gets disconnected, it won’t affect anyone else.

I’m not sure OVO can do landlord supplies for communal areas, as OVO only does domestic supplies at this time. But they can supply each of the properties if desired as long as they’re not businesses.

We’ve had a similar question before, which I’ve managed to locate. Feel free to check out 

But my advice would definitely be that you’d need to get help from the current supplier and your Distribution Network Operator for this (and a friendly local electrician!). What you’ll essentially want to do, is rewire the property that’s currently doing the communal areas so that it no longer interacts with the communal areas at all.

From there, you’d probably need to create a NEW supply for the communal areas that would involve having an additional meter fitted. This needs to be done with help from your DNO as well as a supplier capable of creating new supplies. This is not an easy job overall, so it might not be practical to use the three-phase supply that already feeds the building.

If possible, could you show us some photos of the current setup? We might be able to advise better if we can see what’s there.

Thank you . Just to clarify.  Each of the flats has its own (smart) metered supply while we, the freeholder, do not have an energy supplier.    The circuitry for some of  communal lighting  Is connected to flat 1’s switchboard, the remaining communal lighting to flat 2’s switchboard . Similarly external lighting Is connected to  Flat 3, while the cabling for the smoke alarms and a smoke vent is connected to flat 4’s switchboard.  I have simplified matter somewhat. However I am also the flat 4 leaseholder and an OVO customer

Switch Room

 

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Oh crumbs, that’s a bit more overly complicated than I first expected!

Luckily, I actually happen to live in a rented flat myself that’s in a block of flats with 17 meters. 16 of them are for the flats (one per flat), while the 17th is the landlord supply. So I do at least have some idea about this stuff.

What I don’t get is why someone before you decided to basically create the Spaghetti Junction of electricity supply setups! This is going to be more complicated than I first thought… I’m also seeing a mixture of SMETS1 Secure Liberty 100 Series meters, along with a SMETS2 Landis+Gyr E470. And there also seems to be a pesky Landis+Gyr E100/E110 Series (AKA Ampy 5235A) non-smart meter in the mix as well. That one hasn’t yet been upgraded.

Getting this sorted out is likely to require involvement from a bunch of suppliers (basically every supplier who does all the various properties), yourself, your DNO, an electrician, the other leaseholders and probably more too.

It  will require disruption to all the supplies, as it would ideally need all the communal areas and external areas to be migrated onto the new landlord supply. Engineers probably can’t work on any of it without temporarily de-energising the entire building for safety.

The current setup is definitely not good, so I’m glad you want to unscramble it. If any flat got shut off for non-payment, this would create a bit of a hazard because it’d plunge half the building into the stone ages. It’s also not ideal to have the communal areas running off a domestic supply, but we’ll try to figure this out to see what’s best.

Any thoughts @Transparent ?

Userlevel 7
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Hi @DavidHughN - I don’t see any problem with achieving what you’re after.

Coincidentally I spent this morning chatting with the Area Network Manager for my Distribution Network Operator (DNO) over a long cup of coffee in the sunshine. Communal energy was one of the topics we addressed!

You will need a new Service Fuse to be provided by your DNO. The meter to attach to this must be provided by an Energy Supplier who is authorised to provide new supplies. OVO isn’t one of these, but their sister-company, SSE, can do this work.

Check the map on our topic about Distribution Network Operators and contact them first. They will already have a map showing the supply to your location and are generally very efficient.

And please fill out your Forum Profile page. That’s where I looked first to find out where you were!

Thank you for your replies. Much appreciated.

 Why did the developer wire up the property the way he did? Cynically we believe we know why – too complicated to explain but it’s all to do with leaseholders’ service charges. The developer passed away unexpectedly 2 years ago and the business has been wound up. So we have no comeback.

Our DNO is UK Power Networks with whom we had some dealings on a related matter last year. Thank you also for clarifying the split of the contracting workload between DNO, Supplier and customer’s electrician. (I would imagine since the consumption of electricity for communal areas is going to be pretty small, we will probably have to pay over the odds to get a business account.)

The point about non-payment of the bills is not something we had really considered . Being long leasehold flats rather than short term rentals, there is less risk of non-payment but good point all the same.

Userlevel 6

Great question, @DavidHughN and I think @Transparent’s response really covered things - 

 

 

You will need a new Service Fuse to be provided by your DNO. The meter to attach to this must be provided by an Energy Supplier who is authorised to provide new supplies. OVO isn’t one of these, but their sister-company, SSE, can do this work.

Check the map on our topic about Distribution Network Operators and contact them first. They will already have a map showing the supply to your location and are generally very efficient.

 

As we currently don’t install new supplies or cater to non-residential supplies, which a landlord’s supply  would come under, you would need to find another supplier to get this one sorted. As @Blastoise186 pointed out it is worth doing to avoid issues further down the line. There’s more information on who is responsible for each part of your supply setup on our tutorial here -

 

 

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Hi @DavidHughN  Maybe I’m less cynical, but I’ve discussed the guidance for providing power in communal areas with electricians and my DNO. I think they err too much on what you can’t do. That makes it difficult for developers and their sub-contract electricians.

DNOs are required by Ofgem to change themselves into service organisations, and will thereafter be referred to as Distribution System Operators (DSOs). Western Power is ahead of most in this move and you can see their very open strategy here. As a DSO, they must respond to the needs of the customers rather than the other way around!

In yesterday’s meeting with my Area Manager, we mooted the idea of creating a number of Guidance documents which tell customers what they can do. This should make things very much easier for those in situations such as yourself.

Please report back here as your work requirements are implemented. We can then take note of that feedback within the new Guidance docs.

 

We also have a Forum Topic Who owns what, which discusses fuses, meters, tails etc and gives advice on what to do if there is damage or something needs upgrading. Feel free to post other comments there if it’s relevant.

Since your communal areas will use little energy, you could choose an Energy Supplier offering a tariff with no daily standing charge. The cost per kWh will be much higher, but this could still be cheaper overall.

 

The other possibility is to go in a totally different direction and install high-efficiency LED lighting running “off-grid” from a battery with solar-input. The initial component costs will be higher but your running costs will be negligible.

I’ve been running off-grid lighting like this in my home for a decade, so I now know which hardware is likely to work best. As it will all be below 50v, you won’t need a qualified electrician to install it, and there is no requirement for annual inspections either… the onus is on the property owner to maintain the system.

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