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How to manage your energy if you rent your home

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Wondering how to set up gas and electric when renting? Find out what to do, plus learn what tenants’ rights are regarding electricity and gas in the UK.

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Before moving into a new home, make sure you know exactly who will be paying the bills. If it’s your landlord, then you’ll either pay them for energy as part of your rent or via a separate charge. If you’re responsible for paying for your gas and electricity, then follow this process:

  • If you were responsible for paying the energy bill in your old property, then inform your current energy supplier. Let it know when you’re moving out, and the address of your new property, so it can send you a final bill.
  • Take a meter reading on the day you leave your old property and give this to your old supplier.
  • After moving in, take a meter reading in your new property. You’ll need to give this to the property’s current energy supplier.
  • Wait for a final bill from your old supplier, which should arrive within 6 weeks.

If you’re setting up gas and electricity for the first time while renting, then skip steps 1 and 3.

Check out our moving home checklist for more help.

You can switch suppliers if you pay the supplier directly for your energy. If you pay your landlord for energy – either as part of your rent or as a separate charge – then only they can change supplier. You can ask if they’re willing to switch, but they aren’t obliged to do so.

It’s a good idea to speak to your landlord or letting agency even if you are entitled to switch. That’s because they may have a ‘preferred’ supplier. You may have to switch back to this supplier when you move out.

Yes, it’s possible to switch to a smart meter from a prepayment meter. Smart meters are designed to operate as both prepayment and standard credit meters, making it easy to change how you pay for your energy. Prepayment smart meters are easier to top up with credit than standard prepayment meters. That’s because you can also top up your credit via an app, text message or online.

Speak to your landlord first, even if you pay directly for your gas and electricity. There may be something in your tenancy agreement that prohibits you from fitting a smart meter. If your landlord pays the bills, you will need to ask them to arrange the change on your behalf. Find out more with our guide to smart meters.

Again, it depends on how you pay for your energy. If you’re in a rented home where you’re directly responsible for paying the bills, then you should be able to switch. Check your tenancy agreement or speak to your landlord before switching to confirm this is the case.

Find out more with our guide to student energy bills.

First, you need to find a better deal than your current deal. The easiest way to do this is to compare energy with Confused.com. This will compare suppliers and tariffs across the market to find you the cheapest deal. If you find a deal you like, click ‘Switch today’ next to the deal and follow the prompts to switch.

If you’re permitted to switch your home’s energy supply and you’re not heavily in debt to your previous supplier, the process is the same as that followed by homeowners. The good news is that your new supplier does all the hard work for you:

  • Find a better deal: Use an online comparison tool like Confused.com.
  • Start the switch: When you’ve found a better deal, click ‘Switch today’ and enter the details to start the switching process.
  • Set switching date: Agree a switching date with your new supplier, which can be as soon as 5 working days. You have a 14-day cooling-off period where you can cancel the switch, so consider postponing if you need more time to think.
  • Prepare meter readings: You’ll be asked to send your new supplier meter readings on the day of the switch. These will be sent to your old supplier to help them prepare a final bill.
  • Wait for the final bill: Once you’ve switched, wait for your old supplier to send a final bill. If you’ve built up credit, you should receive a refund; otherwise, you’ll need to pay what you owe to your old supplier.

If your landlord is responsible for paying your energy bills, then they cannot charge you any amount they like for your energy. In fact, they cannot charge you more than they pay themselves for your gas and electricity. This is known as the ‘maximum resale price’ of energy.

In recent years, your landlord may have received government support for high energy prices. They are obliged to pass on these savings by reducing your energy bills accordingly. Schemes they may have benefited from include:

  • Energy Price Guarantee: This will only apply to most tariffs until 1 July 2024. The Energy Price Guarantee placed a limit on the rate your supplier could charge landlords. Your landlord should have passed this discount on within 6 months of receiving it.
  • Energy Bill Discount Scheme: This applies to landlords who have business energy supplies, which may apply to you if you live in a park home. It may also apply to those renting business space.
  • Alternative Fuel Payment: If your heating isn’t connected to the gas grid, your landlord may have applied for this. If they were successful, they should have passed on this discount – worth £200 – to you.

Check with your landlord to see if they’ve applied for any support. If they’ve received any, they must contact you within 30 days. They should reveal how much support they’ve received plus how much will be passed on to you. If it’s not the full amount, they should explain why. For example, if the cost of your rent – including energy bills – didn’t go up even when energy prices increased, then they’re entitled to keep that payment for themselves.

If some or all the payment is being passed on to you, your landlord also needs to tell you when you’ll get it. They’ll also need to give details on how you’ll receive it – for example, through a discount on your rent. Finally, if they won’t pass on this discount for any good reason, they must tell you how you can challenge this decision if you feel it’s unfair.

Check your tenancy agreement. This will make it clear if you must pay your landlord for energy as opposed to dealing directly with a gas and electricity supplier. If you pay a supplier directly then your landlord cannot charge you for your energy usage.

Your landlord will charge you 1 of 2 ways for your energy:

  • As part of your rent: They might simply include your energy usage within the overall rent. While this is simpler to administer, it can be more difficult to determine whether you’re paying a fair price for your energy usage.
  • As a separate charge: Your landlord may pay the energy supplier directly then pass on a bill to you. If they do this, they can’t charge you more than they’ve paid for your energy. Make sure bills are based on accurate meter readings rather than estimates. If your property has been fitted with a smart meter, this should be done automatically.

If you think you’re being overcharged for your energy, ask your landlord for a copy of the bill. If necessary, ask them how they came to the figure they’ve charged you. Speak to Citizens Advice for help and advice if you feel you’ve been overcharged for your energy.

Your landlord is responsible for repairing and replacing any parts of your heating system that you haven’t damaged. If you do damage the system, speak to your landlord so they can arrange a repair, but you will be liable for the cost.

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