A guide to setting up gas and electricity in a rented house

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Setting up gas and electricity in a rented house is one of the many things you need to do when you first move in. However, as a tenant, you might not even be in charge of setting up gas and electricity in your rented house.

Moving into a new rental property is a mixture of both excitement and stress. It’s exciting because you are moving into a new home but can be difficult because it involves moving all your belongings, dealing with contracts and paying out money. And also because you may have to set up all your utility bills.

However, if you are in charge of your utilities, setting up gas and electricity in a rented house does not have to be difficult. In fact, it can take as little as a few minutes. But there are a few things you need to know first.

Moving into your rental property

The most important fact you need to know is whether it is you or your landlord who is responsible for paying the bills. It’s an important piece of information and generally included in the initial advertising for the property. It usually will say whether utility bills are included. This information will also be included in your tenancy agreement, so if you are unsure you should look it up or speak to your letting agent.

If bills are included, then responsibility for setting up gas and electricity for your rented house will fall to your landlord. However, if it’s you that needs to pay the bills, you will need to choose and arrange a provider or simply assume the responsibility for payment with the existing supplier.

How do you set up gas and electricity when moving?

If you are responsible for paying bills, you will need to set up an energy plan with a supplier. If you don’t arrange this and it causes any damage to the property as a result, such as frozen pipes, then you will be liable to pay for it.

To set up a new supplier, you will need to choose a provider and then call them to let them know you wish to be a customer. Gas and electricity companies are very easy to switch. You don’t even have to tell your old provider as this will be handled either by your switching agent or buy your new provider.

How do I add energy to my new house?

Before you choose your new provider, there are a few things you need to establish. The first is to work out what kind of meter it has. There are usually two types of meter found in rental properties. These are:

  1. Regular credit meters
  2. Prepayment meters

There is another kind of meter called the Economy 7 but these are not generally found in rented properties.

A credit meter is the kind where you use as much energy as you want, then at the end of the billing period (usually a month) you get a total bill and pay this off as soon as you can. If you are moving into a rented property with this kind of meter then it is essential you take a meter reading as soon as possible. This will prevent you being charged for energy that you have not used.

Take a reading and get in touch with the current provider to let them know. While doing this, it is a good idea to check that the details on the account are correct or you could end up paying the previous tenants bills.

What if I have a prepayment meter?

Many landlords choose to use prepayment meters because they prevent tenants running up large energy debt against the property. A prepayment meter means you pay your energy bills in advance either by purchasing tokens or by adding a credit card to a key or card which can be topped up. This operates in much the same way as a prepaid mobile phone.

Checking your energy meter

The main downside of prepayment meters is that the energy is often more expensive. You can always ask your landlord to swap the prepayment meter for a credit meter or smart meter. However, if this is not possible it is still worth comparing energy prices to see if you could save by switching tariffs.

What if I share a house?

If you only rent a room and share the energy with other renters then you may need to come to an agreement with your fellow sharers for one person to be responsible for having the bills in their name. However, you need to ensure that bills are being paid on time as running up debts for a rental property could still cause problems for you as a renter.

How do I set up bills when renting in the UK?

You will need to either call the supplier the property is currently supplied by, give them a reading and set yourself up as the account holder. Or you can shop around, find a better tariff and make a switch.

Do I have the right to switch suppliers if I am renting a property?

According to UK consumer protection law, if you are renting a property and are directly responsible for paying the bills then you have the legal right to choose your energy supplier. Your landlord or letting agent has no right to prevent you from doing this.

Your landlord has the right to choose the gas and electric supplier only in certain circumstances, which include:

  1. When the landlord pays the energy supplier directly and then reclaims the money from you as the tenant
  2. When the cost of energy for the property is built into the rent for the property
  3. In between tenancies

It will be detailed in your tenancy agreement whether you or your landlord is responsible for paying the bills.

If your landlord is the account holder and your bills are included in your rental payment, then you have no right to legally make a switch. However, you can suggest to your landlord that better value suppliers might be out there and point out how much they could save. After all, who doesn’t want to save money? At the very least, you could suggest they switch to the best value tariff provided by your current supplier.

Despite tenants having the right to switch to a better deal, Ofgem have discovered that less than a quarter of eligible tenants have ever made an energy switch.

What should my landlord provide in terms of paperwork or assistance?

A landlord must provide an Energy Performance Certificate that gives the property an energy rating from A to G. Properties put up for rent are legally required to have a rating of E or above.

Other than that, your landlord has no requirements by law regarding your energy supply. As mentioned, if you are responsible for paying the bill then you have a legal right to choose your provider. If you are thinking about switching but need some help finding a new supplier, then we can help.

Call us to switch your energy supplier for free!

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FAQs

🔁 Do I have the right to switch suppliers if I am renting a property?

If you are renting a property and are responsible for paying the bills, then you have the legal right to switch suppliers if you should choose to do so. However, if your rental contract stipulates that bills are included in the rent, then your landlord is entitled to choose who supplies the energy.

🏠 How do I set up bills when renting in the UK?

It’s easy to do. Establish what kind of meter you have, take a reading and then make sure that the account is no longer active from the previous tenants. If you are happy to stick with an existing provider, simply phone them and tell them you are the new account holder. If you want to switch, do some comparisons and then choose a new tariff for your supplier. Switching couldn’t be easier. Just call 0330 054 0017 to find out more.

📝 What should my landlord provide in terms of paperwork?

Your landlord is legally obliged to provide you with an energy certificate for the property and this must be rated E or above. If they are responsible for paying the bills then they can choose the provider. If you are responsible for the bills according to the tenancy agreement, then the landlord has no right to prevent you from switching suppliers to get a better deal.

If you have a prepayment meter in your rental property, you can also ask your landlord to switch. However, they are not legally obliged to do so. Some may agree on the condition that the old-style meter is replaced at the end of the tenancy. The landlord has no legal right to help you set up a provider but as a tenant you may be responsible for any damage caused by not having an energy supplier during your tenancy.

🔥 What are my rights to heating and energy as a tenant?

As a tenant you have a legal right to heating in every room you rent, as well as a boiler for hot water. Heating should be able to reach at least 18˚C in every sleeping room and 21˚C in living areas when outside temperatures drop to -1˚C. Heating should be available at all times and the landlord is responsible for any repairs or replacements not caused directly by tenants.

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Written by eleanor

Updated on 23 Oct, 2020