Frustrations over St Albans gas meters faults

Gas metre bill problems in St Albans

Gas metre bill problems in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Frustrated residents living in apartments on the former Oaklands College campus in the city are fed up with “buck-passing” over faulty heat meters which have seen some hit with back-bills of over £1,000.

Andrew Brenton, a building surveyor who lives at Scholars Court, off Hatfield Road, said the dispute over the flawed meters has gone on for several years, with no sign of being resolved.

When residents received a gas bill covering 20 months gas usage in November last year Andrew was charged £45 while another resident was asked to pay over £2,000 for the same period.

That is despite being told when purchasing units from Hightown Praetorian housing association that bills should range between £242 for a first floor flat and £307 for a top floor unit per year.

A complaint has recently been lodged with the Energy Ombudsman about the problem.

Andrew purchased his apartment on a shared ownership basis, split 50-50 with the housing association.

He said there has been “buck passing” between builder Nicholas King Homes (NKH), Hightown, his block’s management company and the energy supplier.

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A spokeswoman for NKH said billing was Hightown’s responsibility and “nothing to do” with the firm. She said there was “no problem” with the boiler system and declined to comment further.

But a spokeswoman for the housing association said it has had to step in and pay the main gas bill to prevent the heating and hot water from being cut off.

She said: “Hightown is currently owed £27,000. The shared ownership properties at Whitley, Scholars and Oriel Courts, Oaklands, get their heating and hot water from a central gas boiler rather than through individual gas boilers.

“Unfortunately some of the meters installed to apportion the gas costs of the central boiler between different properties have not been working properly or have been giving unexpected readings.”

She added: “Although it is the responsibility of the managing agents for the estate to apportion the gas costs and recover these costs from owners, the metering difficulties have hampered their efforts.

“Hightown would like to apologise to all residents affected by this problem. We are working with the managing agents and the meter suppliers to ensure that each meter works properly.

“However the recovery of past costs will need to be resolved and will require the cooperation of each owner.”