When you rent a property, it should be clear from the beginning which regular costs and utilities you have to pay for, and which are inclusive of the rent and therefore responsibility of the landlord. In many cases, it depends if it is a fixed or variable cost. For example, the telephone bill is almost always the tenants’ responsibility, while some landlords may include council tax in the monthly rent. If you are responsible for the energy bills in your rented home find out if you could save on your energy bills by joining the Telegraph Big Energy Switch.
Can I switch energy supplier if I rent?
If the gas and electricity bills are your direct responsibility, then legally there is usually no reason why you can’t switch your energy provider if you feel that you can get a better deal elsewhere.
Even if you aren’t contractually obliged to, it’s probably best to let the landlord know if you do, in case there are issues after you have left the property. There’s increasing choice out there, with the number of active suppliers going up from 48 in 2016 to 66 in 2017. In fact 816,000 people switched gas and/or electricity in November 2017, the highest for that month in four years.
When can’t I switch energy supplier?
There are times when you are unable to change energy supplier without first running it past the landlord. The principal reason is if the landlord is the person directly paying the bills - for example if your utility costs are included in the rental charge, or if your landlord pays it upfront and then bills the tenants later for the cost. If you have a meter, you won’t be able to make any changes to it (as it is a fitting) without asking the landlord for permission; likewise, if you were thinking of installing a meter instead of using a supplier.
What if there is a preferred energy supplier?
Some landlords name a ‘preferred supplier’ in the rental agreement and tell renters that they are bound to stay with that provider. However, according to Ofgem even if there is a preferred supplier clause, tenants are perfectly entitled to change supplier as and when they choose to, if they are the ones with direct responsibility for paying the bills. Again, it’s best to talk to the landlord so the clause can be negotiated and you can switch providers.
5 steps to switching energy supplier
- Look through your rental agreement to be clear on what is and isn’t your responsibility, and if there is a ‘preferred supplier’ for utility bills - if so, the landlord has to tell you the details and the tariffs, and if you pay the bills then you have the right to change supplier.
- Check if you need to tell the landlord about changes you make, and if you have to change it back when you leave the property.
- Take meter readings and look at your last few bills how much you pay each month on average, to get a benchmark, then look around comparison sites to get an idea of what other suppliers are charging.
- Customer service can matter as well as price, and if low tariffs may come together with dreadful reviews on web forums it may be better not to settle for the absolute cheapest.
- Once you have found the best deal, switching should be a simple process and take no more than 17 days.
Switch your energy provider
January 2018 figures from Ofgem suggest there is as much as a £352 (43%) difference between the cheapest deals on the market and the average standard variable tariff for the main suppliers. Many people allow their energy deals to run on to the supplier’s standard default tariff rather than look for a new deal. That’s why we have partnered with energyhelpline to set up a collective switching scheme that uses group buying power to ensure exclusive, low cost energy deals that can save you money.
How to join the Telegraph BIG energy switch
To join the Telegraph Big Switch Collective and ensure you are getting the best deal on your energy bills
complete the basic, secure registration to join over 13,000 other Telegraph readers in our cheaper energy club, which compares the whole of the market. Once we have secured a winning tariff, we will contact you with details of how much you could save and a no-obligation offer to switch.
Join The Telegraph Energy Club online or by calling 0800 542 7156 and save up to £577 on your energy bill
The above article was created for Telegraph Financial Solutions, a member of The Telegraph Media Group. For more information on Telegraph Financial Solutions click here.