The Court has ordered two users to remove the obstacle and sustain the costs
The user is only the holder of the meter and cannot impede access to it
The regulations of the integrated water service in the Ato 5 of Frosinone establish that the meter that measures the consumption of water is the “property of the operator. The users are the consignees and are therefore liable for any omission or damage caused to it”.
So, arbitrarily placing a padlock on the unit containing the water meter or applying any other kind of device designed to prevent Acea Ato 5 from accessing the meter constitutes a breach of the operator’s rights as the owner of the consumption measurement tool.
This principle, which has already been the underlying factor in many decisions, was also recently reconfirmed by the Court of Frosinone, which had to intervene following the initiative taken by users who had decided to “block” the access to the meter, by locking it.
In fact, last August, the Court of Frosinone, in the person of the appointed judge, established that the decision taken by a user to padlock their meter in order to prevent the technicians of Acea Ato 5 from intervening on the measurement device constituted ‘dispossession’. The Judge therefore ordered the user to remove the obstacle, simultaneously sentencing them to pay the amount of €100 for each day of delay in removing the padlock and to pay €500 should they again commit the same offense in the future. The Judge’s decision was also confirmed by the Judicial Panel called upon to pass judgment following the claim presented by the user.
The user - who had also rejected the settlement agreement proposed by the Judge - was also ordered to pay the legal costs, which amounted to €2,786 in the judgment of first instance and €2,000 in the appeal phase, plus statutory costs.
The same principle was reiterated by another sentence, again issued last August, which made the same decision about the similar behavior of another resident of the Frosinone area who had blocked the access to his water meter, again by applying a padlock.
In short, a user of the water service cannot prevent the operator from accessing the meter in order to carry out all the necessary interventions, including maintaining, reading, replacing and even removing the meter in case of non-payment and once all the procedures in place have been completed.
It is worth stressing that, as envisaged by the Regulations of the water service, the operator can enforce “at the user’s expense, the relocation of the meter should the initial installation, due to the user’s actions, no longer enable it to be checked or read”.
Additionally, based on the latest interpretation of the law in force, the act of padlocking the meter can also incorporate the offense of duress since, by operating in such a way, the user coercively prevents the operator from exercising its right to freely gain access to the water meter.