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Changing your energy supplier if you're a tenant

Posted 01 June 2016

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Find out how you can switch your provider to save money.

If you’re a renter, it doesn’t usually mean you miss out on the best energy deals. Depending on how you pay your gas and electricity bill, you should still be able to switch to another supplier and make the most of the latest offers. This can be a great way to save money if you’re looking to cut back when you’re a tenant. 

But how do you do this and what can you do if your landlord doesn’t want you to switch suppliers? Let’s find out when you can change your energy provider and when you can’t.

Can you switch?

You can switch your energy supplier as long as you’re responsible for paying the bill – it doesn’t matter if you’re a tenant or a homeowner. This means if you pay the bill for your gas and electricity and this is separate from your rent payment, you can change provider.

It doesn’t matter if you’re on a prepayment meter or you pay your bills by Direct Debit. In fact, you can still switch your provider if you owe money to your current supplier, as long as you owe less than £500.

Not sure of the difference between paying for energy upfront or by a monthly or quarterly bill? Find out whether you should go for a prepayment meter or Direct Debit for your energy.

When you can’t

The only time when you might not be able to switch is if your landlord pays your energy bills for you. This is when you pay the money for your gas and electricity to your landlord as part of your rent and they pass this onto the energy company. It’s the same if you pay a separate energy bill but it still goes through your landlord – they’d still have control of the energy supplier choice.

Your landlord can’t just charge you whatever they want for energy though. There’s a ‘maximum resale price’ for energy and your bill should reflect how much energy you’re using. Get in touch with your landlord and ask how they’re working out your bills. If they can’t tell you and you think they might be overcharging you, you should get in touch with Citizens Advice.

If you want to move to a cheaper energy supplier so you can save money but your landlord pays the bills, you’d have to ask them. They don’t have to agree to switch you though – they might have a deal with one energy company for all of their rented properties.

Do you need to ask your landlord?

You don’t legally have to tell your landlord when you’re switching to a different energy provider. However, it’s still a good idea to do this. Your landlord might need to know who your supplier is for their records and it’s always best to do everything you can to keep a good relationship with them.

If there’s a clause in your tenancy agreement about a default energy supplier, this shouldn’t stop you from switching – unless the landlord pays the bill. But even if your landlord won’t let you move suppliers, you might still be able to move onto a cheaper tariff with the same supplier.

How to switch

You can find and compare energy tariffs through a price comparison site like uSwitch or MoneySuperMarket. Try looking at ‘dual fuel’ deals where you pay for your gas and electricity with one provider as well as separate tariffs.

Your energy payments are priority bills, meaning you should pay them before your unsecured debts. This is because it’s important to keep your home heated and with electricity, otherwise your health could be at risk. If you’re starting to struggle with the cost of all of your bills and repayments, you can get in contact with one of our trained advisors using any of the options on the left. Or, there’s lots of free and impartial advice from the Money Advice Service.

Check out the Money Saving section of the blog for tips on cheap days out, saving money on your grocery shopping and much more.

by Emily Bancroft

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.