T has put utility bills into my name without permission

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    T has put utility bills into my name without permission

    T in house share has just moved out, replacement T has moved within a couple of days. T number one was responsible for paying utility bills and collecting the other T's share of the bills. Apparently other T's didn't want to take on responsibility of bills so T has put them into my name using the bank details they pay their rent to. Slight problem is this is just a 'holding account', they pay rent in and I move it to my 'real' bank account straight away. I'm furious this has been done without consulting me, I was only informed because I asked who was dealing with the bills now, to be told that I was!

    How would others on here deal with this situation? I have no intention of keeping the bills in my name or chasing them for their share of the bills! It's even in the AST that they take responsibility for the bills.
    Does anyone have experience of opening a 'house' bank account where they can all pay the same amount in every month and divide up the remainders evenly at the end of the tenancy?

    #2
    I would be tempted to contact the utility companies concerned, explain the situtation and that the direct debit was not authorised by you as the account holder. Then instruct them to send the usual quarterly bills to whoever you nominate as the lead tenant - presumably the new one. I would also consider taking section 21 action is this was practicable. A pre-payment meter is also an option.

    P.P.
    Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

    Comment


      #3
      I would check with the utility company to establish exactly what they were told by your T when he/she set up this arrangement.

      There may be an element of deception if they have said to the UC that you will take the debt on and given your details.

      pm
      Before acting on forum advice, you may wish to consult an expert, someone who has all the relevant facts, and who accepts liability for their advice.

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        #4
        Phoned the utility people today, I've put a note on the account to say that we did not authorise the transfer of bills and removed our account details.The T's will be billed monthly at the property. I'm going round to see them on Tuesday to make it clear that bills are their responsibility and what they tried to do was fraud.

        Quick question. If we provide free services (such as satellite subscription and broadband) do they have to remain or can they be discontinued? I'm hoping that threatening to cancel the sky subscription might encourage their co-operation, but I don't want to do anything potentially illegal.

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          #5
          Fraud

          I think you should stick to what is in the AST and not resort to threats as this may backfire. If the AST says they are responsible then you just need to remind them of this and ask them to agree between themselves how they are going to make the payments.

          I'm not sure why you think they have done something that is 'fraud' by giving the utility company your name - as opposed to something misguided.

          Have you had any similar problems with the remaining tenants previously? If not I would consider not using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and just point out the error to them and how you want it rectified AND within what timeframe.

          Comment


            #6
            Is it not fraud to pretend to be someone else on the phone and provide that persons bank details to pay for services you are benefiting from? I'm pretty sure it's not legal...

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by remyrobson View Post
              Quick question. If we provide free services (such as satellite subscription and broadband) do they have to remain or can they be discontinued? I'm hoping that threatening to cancel the sky subscription might encourage their co-operation, but I don't want to do anything potentially illegal.
              Borderline...

              http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content...&filesize=5637
              (3A) Subject to subsection (3B) below, the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if—
              (a) he does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household, or
              (b) he persistently withdraws or withholds services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises in question as a residence,

              and (in either case) he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that that conduct is likely to cause the residential occupier to give up the occupation of the whole or part of the premises or to refrain from exercising any right or pursuing any remedy in respect of the whole or part of the premises.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by remyrobson View Post
                Quick question. If we provide free services (such as satellite subscription and broadband) do they have to remain or can they be discontinued? I'm hoping that threatening to cancel the sky subscription might encourage their co-operation, but I don't want to do anything potentially illegal.
                Are these facilities mentioned in the tenancy agreement? If yes, then you have a clear contractual obligation to provide them.

                If not, then I still wouldn't recommend it; because of the statute quoted by Snorkerz below, it could be construed as illegal harassment. Although it's arguable that telly/broadband are not, like water or electricity, "reasonably required for the occupation of the premises" (and obviously, LL has no obligation to provide them) it would be withdrawing a pre-existing amenity and as such could possibly be an implicit part of the contract, or could possibly fall under "acts likely to interfere with the peace and comfort...".

                Finally, threats of any kind are a very bad idea, as I'm sure you know.

                Are the Ts students, by any chance - ? - because if so I'd be inclined to put their behaviour down to sheer ignorance. I mean, they told you straight off what they'd done when you asked who was dealing with bills, which suggests at least a degree of wide-eyed cluelessness. Though obviously they still need to be made fully aware that impersonating another person is fraud (of some kind), and that dealing with paying the bills is their responsibility, not the LL's.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by remyrobson View Post
                  Is it not fraud to pretend to be someone else on the phone and provide that persons bank details to pay for services you are benefiting from? I'm pretty sure it's not legal...
                  But is that what they actually did? (ie impersonate you?) Or did they just tell the utility co (admittedly misguidedly) that the bills should now be sent to the landlord? Different levels of offence in my opinion.

                  (When tenants of mine have quit in the past and settled their bills with the utility co, I'm sure they will usually have been asked for the name of the next occupier. Sometimes they'll have said they didn't know, other times they'll have probably given my name as landlord... certainly I have received 'welcome to your new home' - type letters addressed to me by name, which don't cause me any lost sleep. All I'm saying is that clearly the name on a utility account can be altered without the new nominated account holder actually doing it themselves.)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Am I missing something? I'm not really sure why you're so bothered. Isn't it their problem? Extricate yourself from the standing order. Possibly tell the utility companies that there was an element of fraud involved. Then leave it up to the tenants to sort out. If they don't arrange something they will soon find they have no electricity or gas, but it's their choice if that's how they prefer to live!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                      post
                      Eric did you read the post before you quoted it? The OP clearly states a couple of times that the T's have set up a Direct Debit against an account that is not theirs. Not just given the OPs name to the utility provider.

                      Whether through ignorance or intention that's fraud.

                      Personally, I'd contact the utility provider clarify that you are not responsible for any bills and point out THEIR obligations under the credit Acts regarding direct debits.

                      I'd then talk to the remaining tenants reitterating their responsibilities under the terms of the tenancy agreement.
                      There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                      If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                      Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks for the replies, they did provide my bank details to the utility company, which they were given to enable rent payment by standing order The account is always empty and has no overdraft to prevent this sort of thing happening.
                        No, they are not students, they are apparently intelligent young professionals.

                        When I spoke with the person at the call centre I expressed my annoyance that they had been allowed to do this without my consent, he replied that they must have impersonated me or my husband because it is against date protection (I think he said), for someone to set up an account payment unless they are the account holder. From this I can only assume they did it in full knowledge of their obligations regarding utility bills, they were not planning to tell me unless I asked. Dodgy? I think unless someone volunteers to sort out the household bills (with a direct debit) they will lose their 6% DD discount anyway, so the sky threats probably won't be necessary!

                        They have also done the same thing with the water company, which I will need to sort out in the same way tomorrow.

                        Neither sky or broadband are mentioned in their contracts, it's purely something I provide to make the place stand out a bit from the others around.

                        I had a good opinion of this group before this happened, now I certainly can't trust them and they will find me keeping a closer eye on them from now on.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by mk1fan View Post
                          Eric did you read the post before you quoted it? The OP clearly states a couple of times that the T's have set up a Direct Debit against an account that is not theirs.
                          Standing Order or Direct Debit?
                          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
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                            #14
                            A direct debit to the utility company.
                            They pay their rent by standing order.

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