Who is responsible for paying the energy bills?
You're responsible for paying the gas and electricity bills at your property if you asked for a supply. You can also be responsible for the bill, even if you're not named on it, for example if:
- you've just moved in and have started consuming energy
- your fixed term contract with your supplier has expired and you're still using gas or electricity at the property
- the person named on the bill has left the property but you're still using the gas or electricity supply.
This page explains more about when you're responsible for paying the energy bills at your home.
If you are a tenant, the electricity and gas bills for your home may be in your landlord’s name. If you’re not sure who is responsible for the bills, check your tenancy agreement or contact your landlord.
If the bills are in your landlord’s name
If the bills are in your landlord’s name, you may pay your landlord directly for the energy you use. This should be outlined in your tenancy agreement and means you are not liable to pay bills directly to the supplier.
If the landlord is not responsible for paying the energy bills
If the landlord is not responsible for paying the energy bills, you are liable to pay the bills from the date you moved into the property. You should contact your supplier with details of your move-in date and meter readings if you haven’t received a bill.
If you live with other people
Anyone who is legally responsible for the property can be pursued for an energy debt if the person whose name is on the bill doesn't pay it. If your supplier is chasing you for payment and you are not named on the bill ask them why they are asking you to pay it. You can also ask for some time to try to resolve the situation with the person/s whose name is on the bill. The energy company does not have to give you more time. In general it is helpful to explain your situatuion to the energy company, for example, the person/s with whom you share the responsibility for the property have left. The energy company can set up a payment plan for you and are obliged to take your ability to pay into account. If you are unable to get any payment for the bill from the other/s involved you should get advice. You can get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Connecting to a gas or electricity supply
If you house share, you share responsibility for payment of the bill with the other residents, although the supplier will generally only pursue the named person for payment. If your name is on the bill, or the primary name on the bill, and others won’t pay their share, you’ll usually have to pay all of it and take legal action against the others for the money. Even if you move out, you could still be asked to pay the whole bill.
If an account has been set up using the names of number of residents, the supplier can legally chase anyone named on the account for any outstanding debts. So if your name is on the bill and you’ve paid your share of the fuel supply but another resident doesn’t pay their share, you could still be held legally responsible for the remaining debt.
Using a gas or electricity supply that is already connected
You might just carry on using fuel that was already connected when you moved in. This is called a deemed contract. In this case, any adult living in the house and using gas and electricity can be held responsible for paying for the whole of the supply.
- If you find yourself in a dispute, contact the Consumer Council helpline on 0800 121 6022
When does your responsibility for energy bills start and end?
You are responsible for gas and electricity from the date you take over the supply, even if you don’t inform the supplier at the time. You are not responsible for any previous occupant’s arrears.
If you have just taken over an energy supply
If you have just taken over an energy supply, check that your bills don’t include charges for fuel used before you took over the supply. If you have a prepayment meter, you should also check with your supplier that it is not set to collect the arrears of a previous occupier.
Your liability for gas and electricity bills with your current supplier ends when:
- your lease ends or you sell your property
- you switch to another supplier
- you terminate the contract, according to its terms and conditions
- you tell your supplier you no longer require an energy supply and request a disconnection.
If you move out of your home
If you move out of your home, notify the supplier at the time to avoid errors and make sure the final bill is accurate. Take a photo or written note of your final reading for your records. This will mean you are not held liable for paying the bills after the date you move out.
If you don’t give a final reading, the supplier should estimate a bill on the basis of the leaving date.
- What you should do about your energy supply when you move house
- More information about different types of energy contracts
- If you need more help