“I am currently an owner of a residential property and I sometimes get visits from employees of our local electricity provider requesting access to the property to take a reading of the electricity meter. This is often an inconvenience to me. May I refuse them access to my property?”
Safety of one’s property and family is important. Add to this high crime rates as well as continuing impersonation scams by criminals that try to gain access to your property, it is understandable that people are hesitant to provide access to their property to unknown persons.
But, may you refuse access to a valid official from your local electricity provider?
The Electricity Regulation Act, 4 of 2006 (hereafter “the Act”) determines that any person authorised thereto by an electricity provider has the authority to enter any property that the electricity provider is or has been supplying with electricity, and which entry must be at a reasonable time. Any person authorised thereto by an electricity provider may enter the property in order to:
- Inspect the lines, meters, fittings, works and apparatus belonging to the provider;
- To check the quantity of electricity used by the landowner;
- To ascertain whether the supply of electricity is not necessary anymore; or
- To cut the supply of electricity in order to remove any lines, meters, fittings, works and apparatus belonging to the provider of which are not utilised anymore.
The Act goes further to state that any person authorised thereto by an electricity provider who wants to enter the property for the purposes listed above, shall, if it is possible to do so, make arrangements with the property owner or his tenant to visit the property and the authorised person will have to comply with any reasonable security measures as required by the property owner or his tenant. The authorised person must also show his authorization at the request of the property owner or tenant before entering the property.
Although a property owner or tenant cannot in terms of the Act be criminally prosecuted or awarded a fine for denying access to the property, the result of denying access will be that the owner of the property will receive his monthly statement, calculated on estimates and not on the actual reading as per the electricity meter. The latter will contribute to incorrect estimated data, which in turn may result in the under- or over-billing of an owner for his electricity usage.
Also, a failure to provide access to an electricity provider can lead to the disconnection of electricity supply or penalties, such as additional charges due to the electricity provider having to provide special meter readings and having to amend its accounts to the owner in order to offset any incorrect entries on the monthly statements to the owner of the property.
From this it is clear that there is no right to deny access, and should you do so, there may be consequences. That said, you as property owner also have rights, and you are entitled to request and verify the credentials of any persons wishing to gain access to your property, before you allow such access.