Electricity bill for vacant property

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  • Electricity bill for vacant property

    Quick question about electricity bills, hope you can help.

    My tenant moved out at the end of February - he was responsible for the bills till then. I've just got the electricity bill for March (when the place should have been vacant) and it comes to ~£100, almost all of which is night rate (zero at day rate) i.e. it looks like the storage heater was left on when the property was vacated.

    Is there anything I can do about that bill or is it my responsibility in the end?
    (I'm using a letting agency, in case that's relevant).

    Thanks!

  • #2
    The person responsible for electricity bills is the person who has the contract with the supply company. If you have no contract you do not have to pay the bill.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
      The person responsible for electricity bills is the person who has the contract with the supply company. If you have no contract you do not have to pay the bill.
      I think the electric co will say they have a de facto contract with the landlord though, from when the tenant moved out. I don't know the legalities of that but think the OP will have a tough time avoiding having to pay.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by bovril View Post
        Quick question about electricity bills, hope you can help.

        My tenant moved out at the end of February - he was responsible for the bills till then. I've just got the electricity bill for March (when the place should have been vacant) and it comes to ~£100, almost all of which is night rate (zero at day rate) i.e. it looks like the storage heater was left on when the property was vacated.

        Is there anything I can do about that bill or is it my responsibility in the end?
        (I'm using a letting agency, in case that's relevant).

        Thanks!

        Since yo have got the bill, I presume that the electricity was transferred to your name by the previous tenants at handover?

        Is your letting agency supposed to manage the property for you? If that is the case, then they should have ensured that the heating was not unnecessarily left on. Does seem a bit expensive. Check that the bill is not estimated-how did the electicity company get access to the meter?
        Kikuyu

        Comment


        • #5
          Your property, your storage heaters, your failure to check if they (or anything else for that matter) was left on or not, your bill, your debt to pay.

          (Unless you want to get onto every electricity supply company's black books...)

          Stone me, pay up!

          Cheers & best wishes to all, including those who don't agree with me..

          Lodger

          PS You wouldnae want to give the impression of being mean and a skinflint so you'd have to pay wouldn't you...
          I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the replies,

            Originally posted by kikuyu View Post
            Since yo have got the bill, I presume that the electricity was transferred to your name by the previous tenants at handover?
            Yes, it looks like that's what happened - the name on the bill is mine.

            Originally posted by kikuyu View Post
            Is your letting agency supposed to manage the property for you? If that is the case, then they should have ensured that the heating was not unnecessarily left on.
            That's what I plan to argue, and then get the letting agency to foot the bill (or pass it on to the tenant). What do you think my chances are?

            Originally posted by kikuyu View Post
            Does seem a bit expensive. Check that the bill is not estimated-how did the electicity company get access to the meter?
            I've asked the supplier that, waiting for a reply. (1408kWh in 31 days).

            Comment


            • #7
              The agent should have agreed final meter readings with the outgoing tenant and then notified the provider if they are fully managing and that responsibility is part of your agreement.

              Thus, you need to see the final reading, read the meter now, compare the two and ensure it's accurate and as suggested see if the bill is estimated or based on readings and ensure those readings are accurate. You cannot charge the tenant for anything over and above their outgoing readings if these were verified.

              If the LA has failed in their duties as per your contract you may have recourse against them. If they have failed to turn the heating off then this is more tricky - there was a cold snap but if the bill is from March then it wasn't very cold then. Leaving an unoccupied property with no heating on can cause burst pipes etc so you need to weigh up this information and see whether the LA have failed in their duties. Often tenancies state that the tenant needs to leave heating on at X degrees where temperature is likely to fall below Y degrees. Leaving the heating on for an hour or two a day is also not a bad thing when it's chilly. However, leaving it on for vast periods is wasteful and not required.

              I've dealt with a couple of landlords recently where they have been stung for eyewatering bills. Some flats, the builders left the heating on 24/7 I think. I collected bills for over £2k I went to a property today and the heating was on full blast, I nearly fell over with the heat. At this time of year it's unnecessary and in empty properties I've turned it off completely. A month or two ago, I'd have had it on frost control.

              Hope that helps.

              Comment


              • #8
                The heating is just a storage heater, not central heating, so I don't think there's any reason not to switch it off.
                I'll get the final meter reading from the letting agency and take it from there, thanks for your advice.
                I plan to press the LA on this but seeing as it's a £100 bill (and not £2k - ouch!) I guess it isn't worth taking things any further?

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am having difficulty seeing how you can have a contract with the electricity company without you having agreed to it. How can they just impose a contract on you?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bovril View Post
                    The heating is just a storage heater, not central heating, so I don't think there's any reason not to switch it off.
                    I'll get the final meter reading from the letting agency and take it from there, thanks for your advice.
                    I plan to press the LA on this but seeing as it's a £100 bill (and not £2k - ouch!) I guess it isn't worth taking things any further?

                    Whether it's storage or not, the same applies in my opinion i.e if it's cold then some heat needs to be on in the property but presumeably they have timers of some description also? However, it hasn't been very cold so subject to the type of premises, at this time of year I don't really see an issue in having turned it off or to minimum. (sorry, I am no expert on storage heaters).


                    I would take issue with the agent over this, but politely at the outset and armed with the facts or at least asking them for the facts as they see it. They should be the "experts" in managing properties and be able to deal effectively with empty properties/checking out tenants.

                    I often have to turn off appliances like fridge freezers, heating and water when tenants have moved out despite my instructions. If your property was empty for months and you were a non resident landlord for example you would expect your LA to deal with such things appropriately. Well I would and I do for my client landlords although I am not a LA!

                    Of course, the weather conditions at the time need to be considered. You'd be playing merry hell if a pipe burst due to the property being left with no heating. It can be a balancing act.

                    Most LAs do stipulate in their Ts&Cs that they are not responsible for the property during vacant periods but they should deal with the property appropriately when a tenant vacates. £100 is a £100 but do evaluate how good they have been other than this issue which only you know.

                    If nothing else, at this end of this it might make them more midful of such issues in the future. I am stunned that with the cost of utilities that this isn't a more regular question with what I've seen recently! The house today was roasting and it was empty. The first thing I did was turn the darn boiler off! Have people got money to waste!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                      I am having difficulty seeing how you can have a contract with the electricity company without you having agreed to it. How can they just impose a contract on you?

                      In my experience it is usual for the LA to contact the provider at the end of tenancy with the outgoing tenant's readings and give the LLs name to take over the contract. I have also had the situation where the provider knows it's a rented property and before I have got to it the tenant has registered or unregistered themselves and I'm named as I have been on the account before. Utility companies always ask me for the name of the tenant (either outgoing or incoming) and for a contact telephone number. Hence, I am religious at contacting utility companies between tenancies as they can be a law unto themselves.

                      However, the fact remains, if there is a void period the landlord pays for the bills during that time but the readings should be taken and verified by landlord or LA.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have to say that I think the supply companies are taking a bit of a liberty and relying on inertia.

                        In the days when supply companies employed people, they used to go and read the meter and turn the supply off when someone terminated a contract and no one new was signed up.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                          I have to say that I think the supply companies are taking a bit of a liberty and relying on inertia.

                          In the days when supply companies employed people, they used to go and read the meter and turn the supply off when someone terminated a contract and no one new was signed up.
                          Well, only last week I discovered that a tenant I inherited has not paid water bills since living there since 2003 and the water company had no idea the property was even occupied. Until now it would seem they have made little or no enquiry about the situation! I was a somewhat astounded by that!

                          I've had my battles with providers over time so now I leave nothing to chance.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Water companies are somthing else.

                            I once acted on the sale of a factory. The buyer's solicitor made a search and was informed by the water company that the buiding was not connected to the water supply! Only a fortnight earlier they had attended to deal with a major leak.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                              Water companies are somthing else.

                              I once acted on the sale of a factory. The buyer's solicitor made a search and was informed by the water company that the buiding was not connected to the water supply! Only a fortnight earlier they had attended to deal with a major leak.

                              Well...builders in our village managed to construct a terrace of four houses, and install all the pipework and radiators for the gas central heating. It was only when they attempted to commission the new gas boiler that they discovered there was no gas in the village.
                              '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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