De­sire for con­trol over bills prompts grow­ing de­mand

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

ES­TATE agents are wit­ness­ing an in­creas­ing de­mand for pre­paid elec­tric­ity me­ters as res­i­dents look for in­creased con­trol over their con­sump­tion and bills.

In Cape Town many home own­ers are let­ting their homes or self-con­tained flatlets, and split­ting elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion be­tween them, says Michael Bester, se­nior part­ner at Tyson Prop­er­ties on the At­lantic Seaboard and in the City Bowl.

“Pre­paid me­ters help when rent­ing out one or two sec­tions in­de­pen­dently of one an­other,” he says. Al­though many prop­er­ties al­ready have them in­stalled, new own­ers of prop­er­ties are also ask­ing for them.

In the south­ern sub­urbs, No­ord­hoek and False Bay, land­lords and home­own­ers are also in­creas­ingly opt­ing for pre­paid me­ters, says Lor­raine Dell­bridge, rentals man­ager in those ar­eas for Lew Gef­fen Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Realty.

“We don’t as yet have pre­paid water me­ters lthough there are me­ters which mea­sure con­sump­tion, and this is a good way to fairly split the bill on prop­er­ties with mul­ti­ple dwellings.”

With pre­paid me­ters, if ten­ants do not put funds into their me­ters, they will not get the ser­vice. This pre­vents abuse.

“It also gives land­lords peace of mind.”

In ad­di­tion to res­i­dents be­ing able to con­trol their util­ity spend­ing and use, they can also top up their ac­counts via their cell­phones, says Michela Soukop, na­tional rentals man­ager for the Soukop Prop­erty Group.

They can also buy elec­tric­ity at su­per­mar­kets.

Soukop says al­though the process through a pri­vate ven­dor is quick, res­i­dents need­ing me­ters from mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can wait up to a year af­ter ap­pli­ca­tion to see them in­stalled.

Pre­paid water me­ters may help solve Cape Town’s water cri­sis by giv­ing res­i­dents more con­trol.

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