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Rental/Utility Supplier

Is it correct that tenants are legally allowed to change utility supplier without the need to notify the landlord or the letting agent? Which press publication would be interested in hearing about unfair treatment by a rental agent and utility company?

Asked on Apr 2 2014, Renting in Middlesbrough | Report content

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  • Hi edonnison, With regards to changing energy supplier when you are a tenant in a rental property, it depends entirely on the agreement that you have with your landlord in the first place. For example, if you are paying your energy bills through your landlord, meaning normally that you will have signed a lease in which your charges were inclusive with your monthly payment at a fixed rate, then you will not be able to change suppliers, as this is the landlord's prerogative to choose the supplier that gives them the best deal to pass onto you and your fixed monthly rate. In this case, you do not have a contract for the supply of gas and electricity to the property - the landlord does. However, if you are the holder of the contract and you do actually pay the utility bills directly to a supplier, then you are free to change this when you wish. It does not automatically mean that you can do so without telling the landlord, though. You would first need to check your tenancy agreement to make sure that you are permitted to do so. In some cases, landlords have a preferred supplier, and they will have set out in the agreement that you need to let them know when you intend to switch. In some cases, you will also only have a temporary hold on the contract, which must be passed back to the landlord at the end of tenancy, so it is worth checking whether or not this is the case as well. Many thanks, Scott

    Answered on Apr 2 2014, Report content
  • Thank you Scott for your answer. I am actually the landlord and I had a problem with a previous tenant changing supplier and not informing myself or letting agent. They also didn't give the utility company my details as the person responsible for the property. The property was empty for several months and unbeknown to me, the utility company were estimating bills and finally seized the meter and are insisting on me paying the legal fees for this, even though the amount of electricity eventually charged was less than 20 pounds. I have taken this to the ombudsman who have agreed that the utility company, although lacking in customer service, were warranted to charge me the legal fees. The letting agent is refusing to take any responsibility. I am concerned that this could happen again to me or other landlords, who are not able to manage their own property. I am trying to find out if I can write something into the tenancy agreement that says, if they change supplier they have to let me know or that they return the supplier to the one in place prior to leaving the property, but don't know if this is legal. Can you please advise? Also I am trying to bring this to the attention of as many people as I can, so hopefully it will stop someone else falling into the same trap. Thanks

    Answered on Apr 4 2014, Report content

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