Property News

Tenants Stopped from Switching Energy Supplier

Em Morley - August 29, 2012

One in ten renters have been unlawfully stopped from changing energy suppliers by their landlords or letting agents.

uSwitch has found that 3% of private tenants have been told that they cannot swap because of limitations on their tenancy agreement, alongside 7% being told that they were not allowed, by their landlord.

A rental contract is permitted to instruct a tenant to ask their landlord’s permission before switching supplier, however, consent must be given.

uSwitch’s research also revealed that only 38% of private tenants have changed to a cheaper energy supplier, while one third are not aware of their right to swap, and one third do not find it necessary, as they will not be in the property long-term.

Tenants Stopped from Switching Energy Supplier

Tenants Stopped from Switching Energy Supplier

uSwitch urges however, that changing energy supplier can save up to £420 a year.

Some tenants are not keen to approach their landlord on this topic, with 22% of renters saying that landlords do not want to be disturbed by their tenants.

26% also said that they wouldn’t ask their landlord about energy efficiency, because they do not think the landlord will be concerned. One in ten tenants would not feel relaxed mentioning the issue to their landlord.

However, over four in ten private tenants state that their current rental property has little or no energy efficiency measures installed.

Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch, Ann Robinson, says: “With more and more people renting, it’s vital that people don’t feel that being a tenant means relinquishing the right to control their household bills.

“The fact is that if your name is on the bill you have the right to shop around for a better energy deal.

“If your rental contract says otherwise, then talk to your landlord or letting agent; it is in both parties’ interests for rented homes to be on a cost-effective tariff and as energy efficient as possible.

“Now is also a good time for private landlords to look at energy efficiency.

“Energy suppliers have a pot of money to spend on making their customers’ homes energy efficient and only have until the end of this year to spend it in order to hit Government targets.

“As a result, there are now a huge number of offers for insulation, ranging from the free to the heavily subsidised. Taking advantage of these now would benefit both landlords and tenants, as a minimum outlay will see lower energy bills and a more attractive, rentable home.”1

Schemes currently available:

  1. Warm Front: Warm Front is only available within England, and installs insulation and heating measures for people receiving particular disability or income-related benefits. The scheme is accessible for those renting privately or who own their own house.
  2. Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT): The main energy suppliers (British Gas, E.ON, EDF Energy, RWE npower, Scottish Power, and Scottish and Southern Energy) deliver free or inexpensive energy efficiency measures, particularly loft and cavity wall insulation. All properties within Great Britain could possibly be entitled for help under the CERT, however the most vulnerable people, for example the elderly or those on low incomes, are given priority. Tenants and homeowners can apply, although landlords must give approval before work is done on rental properties.
  3. Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP): The key energy providers are supplying free or low-cost energy efficiency measures, including solid wall insulation, to houses within low-income areas. You can find out if your location is eligible at http://tinyurl.com/9xw2ed3.

1 http://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/news_features/One-in-ten-tenants-illegally-stopped-from-switching-utilities