utility Bill refunded to landlord in Error

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    utility Bill refunded to landlord in Error


    I hope you can help. My girlfriend is currently living in a privately rented property, she has no tenancy agreement and very rarely sees her landlord, it is an informal agreement as the landlord is her ex boyfriend who left the property and agreed for her to stay on and pay rent.

    The landlord has always paid the gas bill monthly by Direct Debit, he did this because he stated he wanted to make sure it was paid and he kept the level of cover he wanted for repairs servicing etc, the rent took account of the fact he paid this bill.

    The problem is that now Kirsty has submitted her notice he has decided to contact the gas supplier to say that he didn't realise he was paying it and that he never agreed to. The Gas company have refunded his last two years payments and have demanded Kirsty pay the bill of over £1200. We have disputed this but the gas company say that as it is a 3rd party dispute and that they had no alternative but to refund the money and that she must pay them the debt and take it up directly with the landlord to try and recover it.

    Are the gas supplier correct in refunding the money and what they have advised above, or surely as the landlord paid for such a long period of time this is proof that he admitted liability for the bills and the gas supplier should not have refunded the amount due without first contacting Kirsty, and where do we stand in terms of the dispute with the landlord?, we are considering withholding his final rent payments in Lieu of the above but dont want this problem to escalate without knowing our rights.

    Kirsty is happy to pay the gas for the last couple of months if the landlord is now making it her liability but surely she can't be made liable for the last two years?

    Any help gratefully received

    A difficult one, I agree. On the one hand, it seems odd that the utility companies should so readily have taken the ex-boyfriend's word for it that he was not responsible and that Kirsty was. Normally he would need to produce a tenancy agreement proving she lived there and when. However, a tenancy can be oral, and presumably she is not going to deny having lived there.

    I think that to sue him for the money, she will need to prove that he promised that the fuel bills were to be included in the rent. Has she any means of doing that? If nothing else, has the rent been significantly higher than for a comparable property where the utility bills are not included? If so, she may have a case, but it will be difficult to prove.

    Might be worhth checking with some letting agents' sites to establish what the market rent has been over the last few years, for similar flats/houses. that would be a starting point. Perhaps one of the forum lawyers can advise you further.
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


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