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The ‘lie’ costing renters £315 a year

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Millions of renters are missing out on £315 a year because they wrongly believe they are not allowed to switch energy provider.

Two thirds of people who privately rent do not think they can change supplier, a study by auto-switching energy firm Migrate found.

Under consumer protection law, if you are a renting a property and are directly responsible for paying the gas and/or electricity bills, you have the right to choose your own energy supplier.

The research also found that one in 10 private renters have been told by their landlord or letting agency that they do not have the right to switch provider.

This ‘lie’ is collectively costing tenants £41m a year, the report said.

According to the findings, almost a third (32%) of renters have never switched their energy supplier meaning tenants could be overpaying for their energy by £453m each year.

Some 44% said they didn’t know how to switch and 19% felt it wasn’t worth the effort.

Tenants’ rights

George Chalmers, CEO of Migrate said: “Our research has found a huge amount of misconceptions among renters when it comes their energy bills.

“In reality, if your name is on the energy bill and you pay for your energy directly from a supplier, the likelihood is you have the right to switch your energy supplier and should be doing so regularly to ensure you’re not overpaying.

“With more people renting than ever before, it’s vital that tenants know their rights and actively engage with their energy bills, and totally unacceptable that some are allegedly being misled.”

Tips for renters

If you’re renting a property, here are five top tips from Ofgem.

• If you notice a default or ‘preferred’ supplier clause in your tenancy agreement, ask your landlord or letting agent if you can renegotiate this clause before signing. If you cannot change the clause, you are still entitled to switch supplier if you are responsible for paying the energy bills.
• Make sure your landlord or letting agent notifies you of any tie-ins with specific suppliers. They must do this if it applies and they should give you details at the outset of applicable tariffs and charging details.
• Check if you are required in your contract to tell the landlord or letting agent if you switch supplier.
• Check if you are required to return the account to the original supplier, or the original meters if you have them changed, at the end of the tenancy.
• Take your meter readings when you move in and move out and get these to the supplier if you are responsible for paying the energy bills, or your landlord if they are.