There are common misconceptions when it comes to renting and switching energy suppliers. So today we are clearing up that confusion plus, you could save yourself hundreds of pounds!
First of all, can I switch energy suppliers if I am renting?
The short answer is, probably yes. If you are paying your own bills, you have every right to compare energy suppliers and switch, should you find a cheaper deal.
Ofgem’s consumer protection law makes sure of that. Plus, if you are paying by Direct Debit, you could be saving £180-£259 a year on average – so it is worth shopping around.
What if my landlord pays my energy bills?
If your landlord is directly responsible for paying the energy bills, you do not have the right to switch yourself. This is the case if:
- Your landlord pays the electricity and gas bills, then reclaims the money from you, the tenant.
- You are paying a rental fee which includes the cost of electricity and gas bills.
Your tenancy agreement should contain details about who is responsible for paying these bills. Your landlord cannot charge you what they want for energy though. There is a set maximum resale price. If you feel your landlord is overcharging you for energy, check out the guidance from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
What if there is a clause in my tenancy agreement about energy suppliers?
- If you are paying the bills directly, it is still a good idea to let your landlord know that you have decided to change supplier. It is an open gesture which will be appreciated and keep you on good terms with your landlord.
- If your landlord pays the bills as part your contract, they may not have changed supplier for a while and might actually benefit from switching. If you are keen to switch to a green energy supplier and find a good deal, they might agree to switch – although, they are not obliged to do so.
It is worth bearing in mind that if your landlord has a number of properties, they may have an agreement with a certain supplier – so would be less inclined to switch. But you don’t know until you ask!
Can my landlord choose my gas or electricity supplier?
Your landlord has the right to choose your supplier if they are planning on paying for the energy bills directly. But there is no reason why you cannot make a suggestion. They may be happy to switch if there are savings to be made!
Can I get a smart meter as a tenant?
Landlords are currently being encouraged to help their tenants benefit from smart meters. This is all part of the national drive to have smart meters installed into every property by 2030. So, if you pay your bills yourself, now would be the perfect time to get one installed. We would also recommend that you let your landlord know your intentions because:
- There could be a section within your tenancy agreement about the type of meter that can be installed in the property. This is particularly relevant if your meter is in a communal part of the building.
- It forges a good relationship between you and the landlord.
If your landlord pays for your energy bills, it is their decision whether to get a smart meter installed. But it is worth telling them if you would like one. Because of the current focus on reducing the nation’s carbon emissions, your landlord would have to have a good reason for not wanting one.
How long does it take to swap energy suppliers?
Typically, switching suppliers takes less time than it takes to boil a kettle! It’s really simple, visit a comparison site, see which deal is best for you and start the process of moving suppliers.
Most energy providers will have guides on how to switch, so why not give it a try today?
How to set up the gas and electricity supply in your rented home
So, you have found the supplier and tariff you want to switch to. Here’s all the information you need to share:
- Your address.
- How many bedrooms you have.
- Whether you need gas and electricity, or electricity only.
- How you pay for your energy bills.
- A recent energy bill (for a more accurate quote). If you do not have this to hand, Ofgem’s handy service can help you find your supplier.
At sign-up your new supplier will need your bank account details to set up your Direct Debit.
Then, around 21 days or so later, you will be switched over, with no gap in supply. Your new supplier will let your old supplier know that you have switched.
Can I switch energy suppliers if I am in debt?
If you have been in debt for less than 28 days, you can switch supplier without any issue. However, if you have owed money for longer than that, you will need to pay that off first.
The only exception is if you have a prepayment meter. If this is the case, you can switch so long as your debt is less than £500 for gas, and/or £500 for electricity.
Can I change energy suppliers if I have a smart meter?
Smart meters are not an obstacle to switching supplier. Most smart meters automatically update to the new supplier when you switch. But some are being remotely updated and may not work immediately for you. Also, not all tariffs work with smart meters, so you would need to check with your new supplier if this is the case.
Can I change energy suppliers if I have a prepayment meter?
There is no problem switching supplier if you have a prepayment meter. But you will have to switch to either a cheaper plan or change to a traditional meter.
Changing to a traditional meter could mean initial charges. But as a prepayment tariff is generally more expensive, switching could end up being cheaper overall.
Energy tips for tenants
It can be a little confusing knowing exactly what to do about your energy supply when you are moving home. So, let’s try and make this easy for you:
Before you move in
It is always good to be prepared, so use this quick checklist:
- Ask your landlord who the current supplier is for your new home. Or you can find it out yourself here.
- Check your contract to see if you have to let your landlord know, should you want to switch.
- Look out for a “default supplier” clause. This means that your landlord intends to keep using a specific supplier. If you are going to be responsible for paying the energy bills, you have every right to switch, or ask the landlord to remove this clause.
- Start doing your own research and find out how much you could save by switching.
Thinking about moving, or moving soon? Why not check out our complete guides to make sure you do not miss any vital steps during your move!
When you move in
Welcome to your new home! Before you do anything, make sure you take a meter reading. This can be sent to the current supplier if you are paying the bills, and to your landlord if not.
If you are on a prepayment meter, let the supplier know as soon as you have moved in. This makes sure you will not be charged for any debt built up by the previous tenant.
Need to know how to take a meter reading? Here is a step-by-step guide.
When you move out
Just like when you moved in, you will need to take a final meter reading when you move out, and it send it to the supplier. This is particularly important, or you could end up paying for energy you did not use.
If you are in debt to your supplier, the best thing to do is contact them. You will be able to discuss an achievable repayment plan that allows you to clear your debt over time.
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