Tenant's Guide to Switching: Your Rights

  • Added:
    Jan 18, 2014
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Richborough Power Station
Richborough Power Station
Photo by L2F1

Your lease outlines all your responsibilities as a tenant on the rental property. The lease states who is responsible for all bills associated with the rental property including the power bill. As tenant, you have the right to switch providers if you are the one paying the bill. When the landlord pays the bill, you are stuck with his choice.

Lease Restrictions

Your landlord may attempt to require a specific energy provider in the lease. Landlords cannot prohibit the tenant from shopping around for a better deal and changing energy providers for the rental unit. Your landlord can require notification of the switch in providers in the lease contract. Make sure to check your lease to see if you have this requirement in your contract before switching.

Landlord Paid Utilities

Some landlords offer to pay the energy bill as part of your lease contract. You pay your rent and electricity directly to the landlord who then pays the bill. When the landlord foots the bill, you have no right to switch companies. The landlord gets to choose who to use and whether to switch. You can make suggestions but the ultimate decision lies with him. Keep in mind that there is a maximum amount your landlord can charge for your energy consumption. Your landlord cannot overcharge you for energy in order to make a profit. If you are concerned you are paying too much, contact the energy provider for information on the maximum resale price.

Tenant Paid Utilities

The landlord must state in the written lease whether you are responsible for paying for your energy for the rental property. For tenant-paid utilities, you can switch between energy providers at your discretion. Make sure to shop around for the best deals to ensure you save each month. There are many factors which go into the types of energy used, the types of meters used and the total cost of consumption.

Make sure you call the energy company when you move in to have a new meter reading taken on your move-in date and to switch the bill into your name. Failure to get a meter reading results in you paying for the previous tenant's energy consumption.

Three Types of Energy Meters

Rental properties come with three types of meters: prepayment, economy and regular credit meters. Regular credit meters and prepayment meters are the most common and directly refer to your method of payment for energy.

Prepayment meters are popular with landlords because of the decreased risk in default. Prepayment meters require you pay for your energy before you consume it. You add a credit card or prepay your energy and pay for it as you use. Prepayment meters are the most costly of the three energy meters but comes with the least risk for the landlord.

Regular credit meters are the most commonplace. You consume energy through your monthly use of your property and power needs. Every month, you pay receive a bill showing your consumption and a bill. You pay your bill and the meter resets for the next month.

Economy meters are the least common of the three and not commonly used in rental properties. Economy meters are a special type of tariff where you pay a different price for the power used at night in comparison to the power used during the day time. Economy meters are an excellent way to pay less on your energy consumption during the night time.

Tenant's Guide to Switching Energy Providers

Call your current energy provider to find out how much you currently pay on your energy bill and your average monthly consumption. Shop around to the other energy providers to get a quote on how much they charge for your average monthly consumption levels.

Sign up with a new provider. The new provider gives you a start date for your new energy service. Contact your current provider and cancel your service effective on that date. Your new supplier takes a meter reading and sends that information to your old supplier for your last bill. Pay off your last bill and you complete the switch.

If you switch during your tenancy, make sure you switch back to the original energy provider listed in the lease when you vacate the property. Return the property to the landlord in the condition that you received it.

Author's Profile

Sam Jones writes many articles on the energy market, and suggests readers visit the helpful advice pages at uSwitch for more info about a tenants guide to switching energy providers.


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