Expert advice on gas and electricity management in your rental property

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Bills left unpaid

If a tenant leaves the property without clearing certain bills, the landlord should immediately notify the utility company to ensure that they have the correct readings up to the time the tenant left. If you have the tenant’s forwarding address, this will help the utility company to track them down. The company will ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement to confirm that it was the tenant who was responsible for paying the bill during the tenancy period. An energy provider can’t hold you responsible for energy consumption when a property isn’t vacant. You should, however, know that utility companies can’t notify you before disconnecting a service when there is a history of unpaid bills. The only situation where a landlord may be asked to pay a tenants bill is if they cannot produce the tenancy agreement covering the duration of the tenancy.

Meters

If you want a meter changed from a prepayment card type to a credit meter or vice versa, the process is not hard. The only issue will be with the policies of the utility company and what they think about giving credit to tenants as this has its risks. Prepayment stigma have, historically, have a stigma attached to them and are usually associated with people with bad credit but it’s actually a great choice and it will become better with the introduction of smart metering.
A tenant is the one responsible for the property during the tenancy period and thus isn’t compelled to seek your approval when changing the meter. If a tenant is changing their meter, it’s usually a matter of choice but this should be no problem if you have a good relationship with them and you communicate freely. If they let you know about the change and leave the card at the end of their tenancy, there should be no problem.
The utility can’t notify the landlord when they go to change a meter because this would be in violation of the data protection act since the bills are the tenant’s responsibility. The only situation where the landlord will be contacted is if the bills are their responsibility or if the meter change is part of a compulsory replacement programme.
If a landlord suspects that the meter read has made a mistake such as reading the wrong meter or reading a meter incorrectly, they should immediately get in touch with the utility company and provide them with the correct readings. The company will, if necessary, arrange for an operator to investigate.
Illegal energy supply
If a tenant taps into the communal electricity supply which is under the landlord’s care, the landlord should immediately alert the energy provider. There are legal implications of doing this but more importantly, such practices can endanger the landlord, tenants or innocent bystanders. The energy provider will immediately come and check whether the supply is illegal and do what is necessary to stop it and ensure things are safe.

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