A landlord has pre-paid meters installed at hi premises. There a is a separate meter for electricity and for water. All prepaid users receive a certain amount of free electricity and water monthly.
Who is entitled to receive the free allocation of electricity and water, the landlord or the tenant?
If the free units belong to the landlord, can he charge the tenant for the free units?
The tenant is actually the one that is hiring electricity and water from the municipality and has no option but to use the landlord’s name. The prepaid meter can only be installed if an application is made by the landlord, and similarly electricity and water is
supplied on the account payment option, on condition that the municipal account is on the landlord’s name.
In the case of prepaid meter (which is our scenario under discussion), the tenant goes to the municipality directly where electricity tokens are sold and purchases the tokens personally, without the landlord being the agent or in-between man, and then loads it into his meter. This in itself proves that the landlord is not buying the electricity and then supplying or reselling to his tenant, as
in the case where many tenants lease a huge block of shops from the landlord and then sub-lease it to others. This is a direct deal between the consumer and the sub provider who is the municipality in this case, as the actual electricity provider is _____. Had it been a gift to the owner himself, only he would have been able to pick up the tokens but the free electricity tokens are received by the tenant which can only be used on the prepaid meter of that particular residence which he is occupying. This also indicates that the tokens are for all pre-paid subscribers of South Africa whether one is a landlord or tenant.
Now after understanding this, if the sub provider (municipality) passes over an x amount of units of free water and lights on a monthly basis to every household, the current dweller of the household should be entitled to that benefit, who is the tenant. If the tenant had the option of directly applying for electricity and water, then he would have certainly done so and the landlord would have enforced it as well, so that the landlord is free of any obligation if the tenant doesn’t settle his account. The tenant would have then been fully entitled to the free water and electricity because his name appeared on the municipal bill, but because the tenant is not afforded this option any longer we cannot say that the free water and electricity belongs to the landlord and he may then sell it to the tenant. We therefore feel that the free units of water and electricity are due to the tenant as long as he occupies the premises.
Secondly, as Muslims we have been taught by Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam to have mercy on others. The Hadith states:
You have mercy on whoever is on the earth and Who is in the heavens will have mercy on you.
The tenant is generally a less fortunate person and therefore in need of leasing a property, else everyperson would like to be a homeowner. Many of these tenants are working class people that surviveon their salaries, which many a times is a meagre amount. Sometimes half their salary is consumedin servicing their rent and municipal bills, whereas we have been blessed with so many bounties toenjoy. When we own properties, then surely we should have the heart of passing over the free water or electricity (especially when the tenants are entitled to the free tokens) to our tenants whose rentalis a means of us enjoying various luxuries in life. After all, it does not cost us anything as it is an extra benefit from the side of the electricity sub-provider.
Checked and Approved By:
Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.