'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Pertinent thread for bills inclusive HMOs indeed !
others here are far far more experienced than in this space, but please allow me to throw in my thoughts on the issue:
1. As energy price rises continue to head northbound, bills inclusive offerings are less feasible
2. For Gas heating I have a single boiler and megaflo supplying the entire HMO including self-contained units, which of course is better that two or more boilers doing the same job. If you go for single boiler remember of course it needs to be the right size for required output.
3. Assess your Tenant profile type; I have one who's member of eco groups so no concerns there, but I also have one with 60" Plasma in 10ftx12ft room and drinks cooler, and thats just the beginning!. After reading this thread I have sent him a meeting request to discuss his energy consumption, the bills and climate change :-)
4. Since bills are included I have added a section in all ASTs on 'Fair usage policy'. In there I have stated that a certain allowance is made to pay the bills, but if the amount exceeds they will have to top-up
5. I have also included a clause in the AST, that if Energy price rises then the cost will be passed onto the Ts.
6. Start using LED bulbs or other energy efficient lighting in communal areas and rooms/units
7. If you are not happy with Ts because it seems they are taking the biscuit with energy usage, tell them you will serve notice at the earliest opportunity unless they can demonstrate a real change.
8. Install a metering device in units where it is easy for you to do so (i.e. ring mains are not present), and tell the tenants that there usage will be measured.
9. Use your rights to inspect when you legally can, that will send the right message to the Ts i.e. you are ontop of matters.
10. When seeking new Ts ask them about what electrical equipment they have/use
11. You could insist on Ts to have a Smart Iron which if left ON, will turn OFF automatically after some minutes if not in use. This is one for safety as well !
12. If Ts are good, but it seems they are using too much energy, increase their rent on renewal and tell them why you are raising it for them!
13. Do not increase rent for Green Ts, so the analogy for point12 and this one is implement a scaling charge for rent based on Ts usage and demands for heating during daytime hours for home workers for instance, a bit likeRoad tax for vehicles.
Bottom line with me is that if Ts continue taking the p$$s, I let them know that they should expect their tenancy to draw to a close in due course !
Especially if tenants' consumption is monitored through meter, I think easier to just charge them for consumption instead of saying 'utility included' with a long list of, more or less enforceable and complicated caveats.
Or perhaps a simple midway point, e.g. "First x kWh included in rent, consumption beyond that paid by tenant".
As a LL of a HMO I am required to keep communal areas clean. I also clean the room once a week; I can see if they've got a tumble dryer or whatever and it's I the TA that they will be charged for it.
I've only had one T in 5 years who has abused the rent. I had a word. He left.
I think if you estimate a realistic amount and attend your property to clean the communal areas as required you should get a realistic idea of who's doing what.