Early leaving tenant - who pays utilities?

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  • Early leaving tenant - who pays utilities?

    I have a tenant who has vacated the property three weeks in advance of the official end of their 6 month AST and moved elsewhere. They've paid 6 months full rent and everything's been perfectly amicable.

    Whose responsibility are the bills between now and the end of the tenancy? I've a feeling they've given meter readings to the utilities companies and told them they've vacated the property (in which case they'll likely get a final bill to their leaving date). Does that mean I take the bills on for the next few weeks, until I get another tenant in?

    I wouldn't mind - it's not like they'll be big bills - but I do want to leave the heating coming on every now and again to prevent damp and give a favourable impression when others are viewing it.

    Any advice?

    Thanks

  • #2
    I should add that keys have been returned.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm new to this and still learning the ropes so i'm not speaking from experience, but since there is no contract with the utility companies and assuming the tenant has paid up to date, I would say that you, as the owner of the property, are liable for the utilities until a new tenant takes over. An early termination of the tenancy has nothing to do with the utilities.

      If i am wrong, i'm sure somebody will add to this.

      Comment


      • #4
        Given that the tenant has effectively surrendered the tenancy, the LL is surely liable for the utility bills, especially as it is the LL who wants to have the heating on.
        '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

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks. I hear what you're saying, it's just that all the official documentation I have regards the tenancy states that it runs up to 6th January. It's not mine to re-rent until that point, as far as I know.

          If I have any problems with the utilities companies (and today, entering the property, I have just discovered a non-funcioning boiler and phone calls have established that the tenant swapped suppliers without telling me) then I can't provide anyone with any record of the actual date of leaving... other than a text message saying "I'm moving out tomorrow, thanks"

          Grrrr. Tenants!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by drfrot View Post
            Thanks. I hear what you're saying, it's just that all the official documentation I have regards the tenancy states that it runs up to 6th January. It's not mine to re-rent until that point, as far as I know.

            If I have any problems with the utilities companies (and today, entering the property, I have just discovered a non-funcioning boiler and phone calls have established that the tenant swapped suppliers without telling me) then I can't provide anyone with any record of the actual date of leaving... other than a text message saying "I'm moving out tomorrow, thanks"

            Grrrr. Tenants!
            No, I think that if the T has clearly vacated, leaving none of their belongings and having returned the keys after a text message to say they are leaving, that amounts to surrendering the tennacy and you are free to regain possession (i.e. go in).

            Even though they have paid rent up to 6th Jan, rent paid in advance is not refundable except with LL's agreement, so that's a bit of a red herring. It suited them to end the tenancy early, and they have. They would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove that you were not entitled to go back in there after they had moved out, returned keys, etc, - and why would they want to, at this stage, if you take responsibility for the utilities?
            '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

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by drfrot View Post
              today, entering the property, I have just discovered a non-funcioning boiler and phone calls have established that the tenant swapped suppliers without telling me) then I can't provide anyone with any record of the actual date of leaving... other than a text message saying "I'm moving out tomorrow, thanks"
              So that's fine - the tenant's given you the date they moved out, so phone the utility companies and give them the date along with the meter readings. Shouldn't be a problem at all, unless there's a major discrepancy between your readings and the tenant's.

              Although it's a pain when tenants do change utility cos, the OFT guidelines do say they shouldn't be prohibited from doing so if they wish. I agree it would be nice if they mentioned which company it was though...!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                Although it's a pain when tenants do change utility cos, the OFT guidelines do say they shouldn't be prohibited from doing so if they wish. I agree it would be nice if they mentioned which company it was though...!
                Aye, you're not wrong. But as a tenant myself, I can see both sides. Of course, if I was moving on, I'd have let the landlord know al the details, given final readings etc etc (he did none of these - and why oh why do you swap supplier four weeks before you move out?!)

                My next problem is the boiler. Pilot light's out. It won't reset. Chances are I'm going to have to get someone out to look at it. I suppose I'll be footing the bill for that too?!

                (I apologise for general grumpiness. After having an excellent long term tenant for a few years, I've had a string of useless short term ones. Never ceases to amaze me how they behave!)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Alot will depend of what communications you have had with the tenant. I dont believe from the brief information you have given that the tenancy has been surrendered and I would act, as the landlord, in way which you still beleive the tenant still has a tenancy. I assume you took a 'post contact address' for the prescribed information, so would write to them using this address and also the property address, giving 24hours notice that you are entering the property to conduct viewings and conduct minor repairs.

                  In respect of the utilities, I beleive that as the tenancy has not been surrendered that the tenant is liable. With cold weather coming, the tenant may thank you for turning the heating on and ensuring the pipes dont freeze.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yes - this is more representative of what I'd imagined would be the case. However, it's fair to say the tenant has LEFT. I've had a few text messages (to paraphrase):
                    - I'm leaving, how do I return the keys?
                    - It's empty, so long and thanks for all the fish. I've left the keys with the agent you asked me to.
                    - I'm leaving the country to return home for Xmas. When I return it will be to address XYZ.

                    I've taken on responsibility for gas/water/electricity (who weren't bothered about the end date of the AST, only when the T had moved out). Interestingly the same does not apply to Council Tax. I won't become liable for that until after the end of the agreed 6 month AST.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A tenant does not have to live in a property for a tenancy to exist/continue.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Oh strewth. It's never straightforward, is it?

                        I think I'm going to have to take a common sense approach, in that all the information I have at my disposal suggests unequivocally that the tenant is gone and not coming back - they've no keys to get back in for a start! They are also literally now on the other side of the world until after the end of the tenancy in a couple of weeks time.

                        If anyone's losing out here, it's the beleaguered LL!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by drfrot View Post
                          If anyone's losing out here, it's the beleaguered LL
                          Compare the cost to yourself of a few weeks of gas/electricity to run the central heating system set to a low temperature for a few hours a day, to the cost of repairing the damage caused by burst pipes in your loft.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mrs Mug View Post
                            Compare the cost to yourself of a few weeks of gas/electricity to run the central heating system set to a low temperature for a few hours a day, to the cost of repairing the damage caused by burst pipes in your loft.
                            Loud and clear. Please see earlier post about being generally hacked off with being a LL. Not in the most receptive of moods today... for which I apologise.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Petetong View Post
                              In respect of the utilities, I beleive that as the tenancy has not been surrendered that the tenant is liable. With cold weather coming, the tenant may thank you for turning the heating on and ensuring the pipes dont freeze.
                              Totally disagree that the tenancy hasn't been surrendered.

                              The tenant has agreed terms with the landlord about quitting; has paid all his rent until the end of the term; has returned the keys; and has told the landlord he's moved out.

                              If the pipes were to freeze/burst now, causing X amount of damage, I really cannot imagine in a million years that any court would say that the tenant was liable.

                              Originally posted by drfrot View Post
                              I think I'm going to have to take a common sense approach, in that all the information I have at my disposal suggests unequivocally that the tenant is gone and not coming back
                              Sounds like a plan...

                              Comment

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