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Energy Switching For Tenants

Switching from one energy supplier to another can seem hard enough when you are both the owner and occupant of a property but when you are a tenant things can sometimes seem even more confusing. Whose responsibility is it? Who has the final say? And possibly myriad other questions. But like most things, with a little research, a quick check of the small print on your tenancy agreement and a quick chat with your landlord , things can be easily resolved.

As a tenant the law is quite clear on who has the final say on which tariff you choose and who gets to make any decisions regarding changing from one supplier to the other. If you rent a property and you have direct responsibility for paying electricity and/or gas bills, you have the right to make all and any choices relating to who and what service you use. Your landlord, or letting agent, has no right to interfere with your decisions in they matter. Your money, your say!

It is only when the landlord or agent has the control over the payment of such bills that they get to make the overall decisions regarding energy supply and related payments. There are a number of scenarios where this might be the case. If the landlord pays the bills and then reclaims the money from you or if the energy costs are incorporated into your overall accommodation cost then it is up to them which company, what sort of tariff and if and when they wish to change suppliers. Their money, their say!

Essentially whoever is being billed is in total control.

Although this broad statement covers 95% of the usual arrangements between tenant and landlord, there are a few situations which might sit outside this norm and as always read the small print on your tenancy agreement carefully so you know exactly where various responsibilities lay.

If a landlord or letting agent has a preferred supplier this is often stated in the tenancy agreement as a “default supplier clause.” If this is not to your liking before you sign the agreement, this can often be renegotiated. Even if the landlord is unwilling to renegotiate this detail, if you are responsible for the payment of the bills, you are still perfectly entitled to switch to a different supplier as and when you choose, though it probably makes for a smoother road if you can agree on a mutual arrangement.

Even if you have complete control of all decisions regarding energy supply, you may be required by the tenancy agreement to inform the landlord or letting agent of any changes to the original situation. This is more a courtesy than a legality but again, in the interest of a good relationship between the two parties, it is worth taking the time, even if it is just a cursory e-mail with the relevant information.

If you do make any changes to the way energy is supplied to the property, be aware that some agreements may stipulate that everything is returned to its pre-tenancy arrangement, not a big deal but worth knowing that you have that obligation.

Finally when moving out make sure that you take the meter readings and notify the supplier that this is the cut-off point for your energy use, send them to your landlord too so that everyone knows where your obligations end.