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Problems with renting and energy bills

This advice applies to Scotland

This page gives advice on some of the common problems with renting and energy, like gas and electricity supplies. 

You're having trouble paying your bills

See our advice on what to do if you're struggling to pay your energy bills

Landlord has responsibility for energy bills but hasn't paid them

There may be an arrangement where you pay the landlord for energy (either in the rent, through a coin-meter or separately) and the landlord pays the energy supplier’s bills. 

If your name isn't on the energy bill the energy company can't chase you for the debt. But if the account is in arrears they could decide to cancel your supply. 

If your supply is going to be cut off

If your supply is cut off or the company is threatening it, you can ask the energy supplier to put the supply into your name. This will only be possible if you have a separate meter. If several tenants are supplied through the same meter, the supplier may only agree to this if one of you accepts full responsibility for the bills.

You should write a letter to the utility company explaining that you've been paying money to your landlord in good faith but they haven't passed this on to the company. Include any evidence you have that you gave money to your landlord for energy, like bank statements showing your payments and your rental agreement. 

Once the bill is in your name you'll receive them directly and you'll no longer have to pay money to the landlord for energy. 

If there are several tenants sharing the accommodation and the energy supply is disconnected, the local authority may be willing to use its powers to get the energy reconnected. The local authority is not obliged to use these powers, but if it is reluctant to do so, a local councillor may be willing to help. Contact your local council for help. 

If you can't get the bill in your name

If you can't get the energy supply put in your own name, the help of an experienced adviser must be sought before you take any further action, like stopping rent payments. In some cases, the landlord may retaliate by threatening to evict you and you should find out what legal protection you have first. Get help from an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

You want to switch energy suppliers

When the energy supply is in your name and you're the person who pays the bills you can switch energy companies to save money. 

Check if you can get your energy more cheaply by changing tariff or switching suppliers. The standard tariff that energy suppliers offer is often not their cheapest. Switching supplier can be done quite easily. More about switching energy supplier if you're a tenant and how to switch energy supplier

The landlord charges too much for energy

There are legal restrictions on the amount a landlord can charge for energy. This applies whether or not the energy is supplied through a pre-payment meter. See what your landlord can charge you for energy

If a pre-payment meter is set to charge above the legal limits, you are entitled to a rebate when it's emptied.

If you have a regulated tenancy and the rent is registered with the Rent Officer, the amount for energy may be specified and this cannot be changed without the agreement of the Rent Officer.

If you want to install energy efficiency measures or central heating

There is a minimum energy efficiency standard for social housing that landlords are expected to work towards. You may be entitled to other help to improve the energy efficiency of your accommodation.

For more about grants and schemes to help you save money on energy bills, see Grants and schemes to help you save money on energy bills.

Private tenants also have the right to install central heating or other energy efficiency measures for example, insulation for which a grant might be available. Landlords cannot unreasonably say no. However they can attach certain reasonable conditions, such as requiring the tenant to return the property to its original state when their tenancy ends. More about getting help with energy efficiency measures.

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