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Renters fork out £100 paying previous tenant’s energy bill

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

One in 10 renters have paid out an extra £102 for gas and electricity they haven’t used, research has revealed.

For the more vulnerable living in social housing, the figure climbs to £151, according to the data from price comparison and switching site uSwitch.com.

It found that less than half (43%) of all tenants took or were given a meter reading the day they moved into their current property, making it difficult to calculate accurate bills based on when people actually moved in and out.

uSwitch argues that landlords need to do more to help tenants as 70% don’t give any information about energy tariffs or the switching process. A quarter of landlords don’t even tell renters about which energy company supplies the property.

A fifth of landlords incorrectly believe they have the right to tell tenants which energy supplier they should use, even if the tenant pays the bills.

But under guidance from the energy regulator, Ofgem, tenants are able to take charge and switch energy deals. However, if you’ve a prepayment meter and want to switch to a credit meter and pay by direct debit, then you may need your landlord’s permission.

Given the lack of information and confusion, uSwitch said that 40% of renters have never switched energy supplier, therefore missing out on potential savings to the tune of £1.2bn collectively, or £300 per household.

Rik Smith, uSwitch.com energy expert, said: “The last thing that cash-strapped renters need is to have to shell out for gas and electricity they haven’t even used.

“These unnecessary and avoidable costs pile on more pressure when people are trying to keep their bills as low as possible. As a bare minimum, landlords should remind tenants to provide opening and closing meter readings so they will only pay for their own energy use.”

Smith added that if your tenancy agreement prevents you from switching, you should still talk to your landlord or estate agent.

“They may request you return the home to the original supplier before you leave. If you decide not to switch, you can still ask to move to a cheaper plan with your current supplier so you’re not languishing on a poor value standard tariff,” he said.