Utility bills agreement

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    Utility bills agreement

    Hello
    We moved out of our property, which was an apartment in a block of around 60, in march and the landlord is now claiming that we owe £1034 in utility bills. During the tenency we made numerous payments to the landlord and they also kept the deposit of £450. They are now claiming we never made a single payement and have also ignored the fact that they kept the deposit (although someone today did recognise that so they may knock it off).
    The situation is rather complicated, but basically we didn't pay the last two bills because we disputed the amounts for a number of reasons:

    1. They included charges to the landlord for data collection, administration and climate charge levy, by Npower, in addition to the energy charge.
    2. We discovered members of staff lived there and didn't pay utilities so they where being covered by the other tenants.
    3. External lighting, heating and lighting of the halls and the running costs of several washing machines in the laundry room (which where coin operated) where all being covered by the tenants.

    We have no contract or even a verbal agreement to pay any of these. The complicated bit is that looking at our tenancy agreement we actually have no agreement to pay the landlord for utilities at all. The contract states:

    [1] The Tenant agrees with the Landlord: 23) To pay all charges for gas and electricity and telephone and water rates and Local Authority charges incurred during this tenancy and to arrange for all bills to be sent to the tenant in their names, on the first day of this agreement.

    We didn't do this (we just paid the landlord when he sent us a bill) but we contacted Npower after leaving and they told us our flat didn't receive a supply, the whole building received one bill. The landlord then divided this based on each apartments usage (except for issues 1-3 above).

    Where do we stand in terms of how much the landlord can charge us, if indeed he can legally charge anything! Could we argue we have no agreement to pay bills and try and get the deposit back for the DPS?

    Any advice greatly appreciated!
    Kieran

    #2
    Firstly, raise a dispute with the DPS for return of your deposit.

    Secondly, utilities bills are between you and the utilities provider, so I don't understand why you were apparently paying the LL for utilities, particularly when it explicitly states in your tenancy agreement that this is not the arrangement. I don't see how there can be ONE bill for SIXTY flats?

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for the reply. Apparently the DPS still have the deposit, the landlord requested it back but never asked us for confirmation and it is still there.
      Regarding the bills, the whole building only has one supply which is a business account. Each flat has two meters, one for eletricity and one for what they calling heating/hot water, but these are not serviced by the utility company and they have nothing on their records regarding our appartment at all.

      The landlord is now taking us to court and we have 2 weeks from now to respond to the claim. They have basically produced a list of bills based on their meter readings. Though they have removed the ones we paid they have added 8% interest as well as a load of standing charges and also increased the rate they actually pay per kw/h.

      We don't have any agreement to pay them anything so can i just reply to the court papers with a photocopy of the housing contract and dispute it that way? We used electricity and heating while in the appartment but legally can they charge us for it if we don't have a legal agreement.

      If anyone has any ideas i would be gratfull!

      Thanks

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for the reply. Apparently the DPS still have the deposit, the landlord requested it back but never asked us for confirmation and it is still there.
        Regarding the bills, the whole building only has one supply which is a business account. Each flat has two meters, one for eletricity and one for what they calling heating/hot water, but these are not serviced by the utility company and they have nothing on their records regarding our appartment at all.

        The landlord is now taking us to court and we have 2 weeks from now to respond to the claim. They have basically produced a list of bills based on their meter readings. Though they have removed the ones we paid they have added 8% interest as well as a load of standing charges and also increased the rate they actually pay per kw/h. Eg: We have a photo copy of one of the electricity bills and hey pay 0.16 per kw/h (ex vat) and they billed us at 0.24 per k/wh (50% increase!) when i think they should only be adding the vat to the price.

        We don't have any agreement to pay them anything so can i just reply to the court papers with a photocopy of the housing contract and dispute it that way? We used electricity and heating while in the appartment but legally can they charge us for it if we don't have a legal agreement.

        If anyone has any ideas i would be gratefull!

        Thanks
        Last edited by kbarker; 21-01-2010, 19:34 PM. Reason: clarify issue

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by kbarker View Post
          The landlord is now taking us to court and we have 2 weeks from now to respond to the claim. They have basically produced a list of bills based on their meter readings. Though they have removed the ones we paid they have added 8% interest as well as a load of standing charges and also increased the rate they actually pay per kw/h.

          We don't have any agreement to pay them anything so can i just reply to the court papers with a photocopy of the housing contract and dispute it that way? We used electricity and heating while in the appartment but legally can they charge us for it if we don't have a legal agreement.
          But your tenancy agreement states that "The Tenant agrees with the Landlord: 23) To pay all charges for gas and electricity and telephone and water rates and Local Authority charges incurred during this tenancy", so you can't argue you don't have to pay anything.

          Moreover, you say "basically we didn't pay the last two bills because we disputed the amounts for a number of reasons". However valid your reasons for disputing the amounts, it doesn't follow that you're entitled to free gas/electricity.

          Although I still don't understand how the whole set up is managed (i.e. how LL apportions the bills, and how come the utilities providers don't bill each individual unit direct), I think you should accept that you owe some money for utilities and make LL a reasonable offer to settle (i.e. offer less than is claimed, taking into account any unfair charges you believe the LL has added and which aren't in your tenancy agreement, and deduct something for the fact that communal electricity is being charged to Ts - assuming you have evidence of this and it's not just a suspicion).

          Bear in mind that courts take the reasonableness of both parties' behaviour into account and I don't think it is reasonable to try to evade making any payment for gas/electricity used during the tenancy.

          Comment


            #6
            Once again thanks for your reply.

            I have recalculated the bills, basically i have taken the meter readings and muliplied these based on the per kw rate plus vat. I have removed all the interest added and also the standing charge fees that we didn't agree to. The amount comes to just about £480. The deposit of £450 is still with the DPS so if i reply to the courts stating i have sanctioned the release of this (which i can do before replying) and offer to pay the extra £30 odd do you think that would be reasonable?

            I am not familier with how these things work, if the landlord doesn't accept this offer will we still have to go to court or can the courts say that is reaonable based on our reply and that will be the end of it? Also until friday we where under the impression the landlord had received the deposit back. They have never once contacted asking to have it released so should i mention this in the reply?

            Thanks for any advice

            Comment

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