Who is Responsible for Repairing the Utilities Meter Box?
This is based from an article we wrote for HA Magazine dealing with the commonly debated point of 'who is responsible for repairing the meter box on my property', with further modifications as we've found more information (particularly once we learned that the Gas Act 1996 was actually a piece of New Zealand legislation!).
Nearly 40 years ago, when we first designed our door and frame units for the electricity boards, it was quite clear cut: the electricity (and gas) boards owned and were responsible for the meter boxes. However, when the industry was deregulated, these companies were no longer necessarily the billing company and so they no longer had this responsibility.
External enclosures are a convenient solution for locating gas and electricity meters on social housing properties. Unfortunately, as they are usually plastic, they are susceptible to damage and at this stage maintenance responsibilities sometimes become unclear. These quotations from the Wiring Regulations (17th ed) help clarify things for the electricity meter box:
- “A barrier or enclosure shall be firmly secured in place and have sufficient stability and durability to maintain the required degree of protection and appropriate separation from live parts...”
Regulation 416.2.3, IEE Wiring Regs. 17th ed.
- "Where it is necessary to remove a barrier or open enclosure or remove parts of enclosures, this shall be possible only:
(i) by the use of a key or tool, or..."
Regulation 416.2.4, IEE Wiring Regs. 17th ed.
The Wiring Regs are the rules that all electricians must work to, and a meter box without a door clearly contravenes regulations 416.2.3. and 416.2.4. These clearly indicate that there is a responsibility to maintain and repair electricity meter boxes.
Gas meter boxes
There is an analogous set of regulations for gas installations called The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. These give guidance on the need to protect the gas meter (Reg 7 - protection against damage) and suitable design of the meter box (Reg 13 - meter housings).
For more information on where the responsibility for repair lies we contacted the Institute of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM) and they kindly gave us the following advice:
"Under paras 3 and 5 of Schedule 2B, the Gas Code of the Gas Act 1986, the consumer is responsible for taking ‘proper care of the meter’ and ensuring the gas meter is adequately housed either within a building comprised in the premises or ….‘in a separate meter house or other accommodation outside a building comprised in the premises which is approved by the transporter…’
Gas meter boxes can be installed by the home owner before the supplier installs the supply or the gas supplier might install the meter box through some agreement with the consumer but, however the meter box is installed, it appears that the consumer (usually the property owner) is responsible for its maintenance.
Although it was outside his area of expertise, the IGEM Technical Officer we spoke to said that similar principles apply to electricity meter boxes.
If you have any more information on where the responsibilities lie, please let us know as we are frequently asked this question and want to keep this page as up to date as possible.
We'd like to thank Victoria Eustace at Owen White Solicitors in Slough for highlighting to us that the Gas Act 1996 was actually from New Zealand and also the Technical Officer at the IGEM who helped with our most recent research.