Tuesday 20 May 2008 3.47pm
I saw the title of this post, and my heart sank: "here we go again", I thought!
So far as I am aware, the freeholder (and hence Gross Fine as representatives of the freeholder) will have legal responsibility for all the common parts of your building. If your meter shares a cupboard with at least one other household, the freeholder has a duty of care to ensure that the cupboard concerned does not constitute a hazard to health and safety (i.e.) is secure (lockable) but that access to the meter can be obtained by the households concerned. Strictly speaking, GF may never have held the keys (because they have not always been managing agents), and may not hold keys (as a matter of policy), but that doesn't mean that they're (on the freeholder's behalf) not responsible for making sure you have a key. Also, I think I'm right in saying that your electricity supplier will only go so long in issuing an estimated bill.
On the other hand, if each individual flat has its own meter cupboard, then I think it probably is a householder matter (regardless of whether the meter cupboard is positioned in a communal space). Are you the leaseholder? When I bought my flat, I took possession of a whole bundle of keys - postbox, communal front door, meter cupboard etc. - but then I don't imagine all vendors are as fastidious as mine and I know that the only way that some of my neighbours have been able to gain access to their postboxes, say, is to break into them!
Once you've worked out whether your meter cupboard is communal or not, I think you have a number of options:
If the meter cupboard isn't communal and you're a tenant, get your landlord to pay for a locksmith (it'll be in their interest too)
If the meter cupboard isn't communal and you're a leaseholder, pay for a locksmith
If the meter cupboard is communal and you're a tenant, get your landlord to put pressure on GF to supply a key (or take steps to ensure you get one - see below)
If the meter cupboard is communal and you're a leaseholder, put pressure on GF to supply a key (or take steps to ensure you get one - see below)
With regard to the latter two options, your electricity provider may be able to provide advice OR, even, apply pressure themselves. Moreover, perhaps you could suggest to GF that all they need to do is agree that they'll cover the costs of the locksmith providing you take care of all the arrangements.
I hope this is helpful and good luck! It begs the question - what does GF do??