Using switching services has proven to be a quick and easy to use tool for getting the best energy deals for some time now. Being able to compare tariffs offered across the market has meant that many millions of UK energy customers have saved money. Despite the savings on offer, not everyone that is eligible to take advantage of these services does so. This can be for a number of reasons. Chief among them is a lack of internet connection, a sense of brand loyalty or not knowing whether or not you are able to take advantage.
When living in rented accommodation it might not always be clear where you stand when it comes to your gas and electricity supplier. If you do not own the house, can you still decide which company supplies power to it?
The answer depends upon your tenancy agreement. It is always worth checking the small print in your paperwork to make sure that there are no restrictions in place when it comes to energy supply. That said, it usually falls down to a simple question. Who is directly responsible for paying the gas and electricity bills?
When the landlord charges you for gas and electricity as part of your rent, then it is likely that they are dealing directly with the supplier. If the utility bills arrive in your name (or someone else in your household) then you are responsible.
If I pay my gas and electricity through my landlord
Your landlord will have the right to choose which energy supplier provides gas and electricity to the property. The bill will be sent to the landlord who will then pass down the costs onto the tenant. To make sure that tenants are not left with unfairly high bills, a number of protections have been put in place. Landlords are bound by the maximum resale price, which legally protects the tenant from being overcharged.
You can ask for a copy of the bills at any time and if you feel wronged, you can bring a claim to the small claims court. This ensures protection for the tenant and lays out in law exactly what charges the landlord can and cannot pass on.
In some cases a ‘green deal’ finance may exist against the property. This can happen when the landlord has made energy efficiency improvements to the property. Examples of this are better double glazing, new doors and cavity wall insulation. Payment for the work is sometimes via a finance deal. The energy supplier that carried out the work will add a monthly fee to the energy bills. This will continue until the balance is settled.
If I deal directly with the energy suppliers
When you or anyone else in your household is responsible for dealing directly with the energy company, then switching is simple. When it is your responsibility to deal with suppliers, it is your choice which supplier you use. This means that you can take full advantage of comparison websites to make sure that you are getting the best deal.
There is no need to inform your landlord which energy provider is supplying you. You are also under no obligation to use the existing provider supplying the property before you moved in.
In this scenario it makes no difference if you own your own home or rent a property. You are free to choose the best gas and electricity deal that you can find.
Any other circumstances?
Your tenancy agreement may contain a preferred supplier. If this is the case, then you should find out from the landlord exactly what this means. Sometimes a preferred supplier is not legally binding, other times it is. If you are in any doubt about your agreement, contact your landlord to explain the exact terms to you.
Changing the type of meter in a property can also cause complications. You are still able to do so, but will need to inform the landlord. Changing back to a monthly pay meter, or pay-as-you-go will be your responsibility. If this is the case, it will be at your own expense which is worth keeping in mind.