Which prepaid sub meter for a rental flat with its own DB

Hi all

I’ve got a 2 bedroom flat on the property which I want to start renting out sometime in future. Since it has aircons and still a electric geyser plus electric stove at this stage, I definitely don’t want to include electricity as part of the rent.

We have 3 phase on the farm, but the flat has its own single phase DB. I see you get prepaid meters for sale all over for as low as R250, even from Takealot, but I can’t figure out how this will work.

With these types of meters, do the tenant pay me directly and I just key in a code or something to open up the meter for X amount of kWh or how does it work?

A while back I also heard of someone who said they use a third party supplier for the rentals on their property, where the tenant have to buy prepaid vouchers from the third party company, like you would traditionally buy prepaid electricity from a shop / online, then this company pays the landlord at the end of the month, minus their commission of course.

Anyone have experience with prepaid sub meters on rental properties, how does it work, which would be the best way to go?

I would just add the cheap meter (to the feed on your DB to the flat), and agree on a rate with the tenant. Agree to read once a month and then add the usage to the rent bill. Simple and the cheapest option. You could add a portion of the fixed charges to the rate if you want to.

1 Like

This will be the simple solution yes, plus as you say I can decide exactly what I want to charge, even a percentage of the fixed fees.
However I’ll still run a risk if it’s a bad tenant, late / short / no payments etc.

If at all possible, I want to try eliminate those types of headaches, no pay = no electricity, no arguments, no pleading, no empty promises.

Then again if I do it the old school way with them paying me off the reading every month, if they don’t pay rent, I can simply switch off the breaker.

If they don’t pay you have bigger problems… Rent will be an issue as well.
I just added an amount to the rent amount in leiu of electricity. That was the easiest. (eg. 400 units) but I would have loved to add meters BUT - I had gas geyser and I installed a gas stove (oven and hob) - their costs.

As far as I understand, your tenants can buy vouchers for electricity, of which you then get a percentage. The metering company takes a cut, which is why the meter itself is so cheap (quite a bit below cost).

1 Like

I was thinking something like this… and then cut out the middle man.

Come to think of it, I actually still have a unused Carlo ET112 somewhere in a box.

:wink: you could give them Node Red/HA dashboard so they could monitor their usage

This is what I currently do. I have an old disc meter in line for the tenant’s use, and simply read the meter once a month and let them know.

Simple single-phase meters that sit in a single DIN slot are cheap enough nowadays. Look at a Lear DDS-1Y for example. About R600. Onesto has a similar one.

1 Like

There are several companies that offer a service by which they install a pre-paid meter for your property or part of your property, the tenant then buys the tokens from them, they see that you get your money, and they add an admin fee on top.

Some provide pre-paid water meters as well.

EG (random result, found by googling, I am not connected to this company and am not endorsing it) https://www.citiqprepaid.co.za/

You would still be responsible for Eskom/municipal bills. They are just taking care of recovery from the tenant.

I think these services where you let someone else handle the billing, plus it is prepaid so at least you never have a problem getting the money from the tenant, is especially useful if you are managing multiple properties, or if you are out of town a lot and cannot read the meter.

I can add 2c worth here. I asked my electrician for a recommendation. He has a number of rental units between him and his business partner.

He uses Citiq. He likes the web platform, says its seamless. He mounts the unit outside in a meter box together with applicable load limit trip(depends on the unit) that way he can always access it even if the tenant is away, this helps with tampering. (he has had numerous tampering attempts, all of them picked up so far.

I trust him and will be going with what he uses. Saves me the work of researching it myself.

1 Like

Must say, that does very much interest me … but bugger me, I have critical and non-critical circuits, so a meter for each, no problem.

But then I may rent out 3 areas … 6 meters are needed!

Now some may say simplify it … yeah, don’t think so. Critical loads are not for i.e. geysers or ovens. Critical circuits are for lights, PC’s/laptops/internet, maybe TVs.

Batteries need “protection” from these “renters” see. :innocent:

I am using gas, gas stove/oven and a gas geyser and gas heaters for winter. Lightens the electrical load.

Then after that I limit the rental unit to a small current supply, its livable but not luxury. The whole unit is then on the battery/inverter and an essential load. Part of the joy of the renter renting from us is then that they have stable supply, hence a premium on the rent asked for.

A bachelor type unit is limited to 10A, larger units to 15A. One large electrical consumer at a time. Not the air frier and the kettle, one and then the other. Labels are not hard to read. They will learn to manage it very quickly once the load limit is exceeded and it trips.

Am toying with the idea of the one area being gas, for cooking and geyser. If that works very well, still need to build it, then … will see.

But dang, induction plates, airfryers, they DO work

I like the limiting of the amps … but still, don’t want to buy MORE batts to accommodate the 3 rentals, us, the main house, area 4, batts are for our use see, the kettle, induction plates, and air fryer. :rofl:

Ag fudge, haven’t thought it threw properly.

Totally forgot the laundry room and pressure pump also runs off that DB which will complicate things. It will mean more meters if I want to do things properly.

This is what I used for a flat.
Not required any more…

Couldn’t you just get another DB put in just for the flat? Then you meter the connection that feeds that DB. Sure, it’s wiring and an amended COC and that will cost, but it will cost only once.

I have a breaker in my DB that feeds the outbuilding. I’m assuming you can also technically just switch it off if they don’t pay and just have it written into the contract similar to what you do in case of non-payment of rent.

I remember renting a property a couple of years ago. It was a large erf that was converted into 5 houses in a complex style.
We had a prepaid meter and I could purchase units through the banking app as normal. It was only later on that I realised that I’m paying a higher amount than what’s mentioned on the prepaid rates for the city and then realised it’s some third party. I still remember the SMS from the bank mentioned the rate / tariff name.

But it worked seamlessly and I only contacted the landlord when I woke up to a flooded kitchen one morning.

So if you are worried about non-payment etc. and want it managed professionally that’s not a bad way of doing it. Can’t say that I remember Citiq being anywhere, but definitely is the same concept.

1 Like

If you use one of these 3rd party services all that goes away. You have no electricity? Oh dear, you must have forgotten to buy a token - but you still can. Help you out? Oh dear, it’s not my meter you see, I have no access and no idea how it does what it does.

1 Like