Knowing Your Energy Rights: A Guide To Being A Smart Tenant


Do you know your rights as a tenant when it comes to energy supply? Do you feel locked into an expensive tariff, forcing you to make savings elsewhere?

Your rights as a tenant include choosing who supplies your energy if you’re the person paying the bill. Read on to find out how to be a smarter tenant: what you can ask for, and how you can get it.


Moving Home

When moving from one rental property to another, you’re likely to find a different provider supplies the energy to your home.

Your landlord or your property agent should let you know who supplies the energy to your new home, but there’s a chance they might not know. Find out who supplies the energy in your new property. If you're responsible for paying the bill, you have the right to shop around for a cheaper supplier.


Know where the meters are

You have a right to access the meters if you’re paying the bills.

Ask to be shown the location of the meters when you first look around the property - they can be hidden in some odd places, and might not even be inside your home.


Take readings

Take meter readings when you move out of your previous home and provide that reading to the old energy supplier so that they can provide a final bill.

Take readings when you move into your new home and contact the current supplier to inform them of the reading; even if you’re planning on switching. The current supplier may block a switch if there is a debt associated with the property from a previous occupier, so make sure they know what you’re responsible for by giving them an accurate starting reading.

Take a photograph of the meter at your old address and your new address - it's the easiest way to record the reading.

If you’re a So Energy customer, check what you need to do when you move.


Are you paying too much?

It’s especially important to check for cheaper deals right now because Ofgem is set to introduce a new, higher price cap, meaning that suppliers can charge more.

Check your tenancy agreement - it may state that the landlord or letting agent has a “preferred supplier”. This doesn’t prevent you from switching suppliers, but you should inform your landlord or letting agent if you do switch out of courtesy.


Thinking of switching?

Check your most recent bill - it will have an estimate for your annual electricity usage, and your annual gas usage if you also have gas. You’ll need this to get an accurate quotes when shopping around.

If you’re moving to a new property, you won’t have a recent bill for that property. In this case, suppliers will estimate the costs based on the size of the property. This is all the more reason to give regular readings so that costs can be reassessed after a couple of months.


Can you change the meter?

If you pay your energy supplier directly, you can choose to have a meter changed. For example, you might move into a property with pre-payment meters, which will limit the tariffs available for you to choose from. You would need to speak with the current supplier to have the meter changed to a credit meter.

You should let your landlord know beforehand, to check if they are happy for the change to be permanent, or if they would want you to return the property to its original state at the end of your tenancy.



Electric & Gas Safety Appliance Checks

Gas

Your landlord is legally obliged to arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to visit your home and check all gas appliances. This should happen at least once a year.

You should be given a certificate to prove that all appliances have passed the safety inspection within 28 days of you moving in.

For more information regarding gas safety, click here.


Electricity

Landlords are required by law to ensure the safety of electrical appliances at the start of a tenancy and maintain this throughout the tenancy.

If you live in a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO), your landlord should arrange for electrical safety checks to be carried out at least every five years.


Get your energy performance certificate

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) provides information about the energy efficiency of a home and estimates of potential fuel costs. This can help you compare energy bills between properties.

You can ask your letting agent or landlord to provide a copy of a valid EPC, so make sure you ask for one when deciding whether the property is going to be suitable.

The EPC also gives recommendations regarding how energy efficiency might be improved by your landlord.


In brief

If you are feeling a little bit lost now, don't worry. We have prepared a four-point takeaway for you:

  • If you pay your energy bills, then you can switch your tariff or supplier.
  • If you pay your energy bills, you can also change your meter. However, we'd suggest you discuss this with your landlord first, as they may want you to change this back before you leave.
  • Your landlord should arrange a Gas Safety check once a year.
  • Your landlord should ensure the safety of the electrical installation when you move in and during the tenancy.

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