Problems with renting and energy bills
This page gives advice on some of the common problems with renting and energy, like gas and electricity supplies.
You're having trouble paying your bills
See our advice on what to do if you're struggling to pay your energy bills.
Landlord has responsibility for energy bills but hasn't paid them
There may be an arrangement where you pay the landlord for energy (either in the rent, through a coin-meter or separately) and the landlord pays the energy supplier’s bills.
If your name isn't on the energy bill the energy company can't chase you for the debt. But if the account is in arrears they could decide to cancel your supply.
If your supply is going to be cut off
If your supply is cut off or the company is threatening it, you can ask the energy supplier to put the supply into your name. This will only be possible if you have a separate meter. If several tenants are supplied through the same meter, the supplier may only agree to this if one of you accepts full responsibility for the bills.
You should write a letter to the utility company explaining that you've been paying money to your landlord in good faith but they haven't passed this on to the company. Include any evidence you have that you gave money to your landlord for energy, like bank statements showing your payments and your rental agreement.
Once the bill is in your name you'll receive them directly and you'll no longer have to pay money to the landlord for energy.
If there are several tenants sharing the accommodation and the energy supply is disconnected, the local authority may be willing to use its powers to get the energy reconnected. The local authority is not obliged to use these powers, but if it is reluctant to do so, a local councillor may be willing to help. Contact your local council for help.
If you can't get the bill in your name
If you can't get the energy supply put in your own name, the help of an experienced adviser must be sought before you take any further action, like stopping rent payments. In some cases, the landlord may retaliate by threatening to evict you and you should find out what legal protection you have first. Get help from an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
You want to switch energy suppliers
When the energy supply is in your name and you're the person who pays the bills you can switch energy companies to save money.
Check if you can get your energy more cheaply by changing tariff or switching suppliers. The standard tariff that energy suppliers offer is often not their cheapest. Switching supplier can be done quite easily. More about switching energy supplier if you're a tenant and how to switch energy supplier.
The landlord charges too much for energy
There are legal restrictions on the amount a landlord can charge for energy. This applies whether or not the energy is supplied through a pre-payment meter. See what your landlord can charge you for energy.
If a pre-payment meter is set to charge above the legal limits, you are entitled to a rebate when it's emptied.
If you have a regulated tenancy and the rent is registered with the Rent Officer, the amount for energy may be specified and this cannot be changed without the agreement of the Rent Officer.
If you want to change your energy meter
You can ask your energy supplier to change your energy meter. For example, you might want to replace an old style prepayment meter with a credit meter. Read about changing your meter.
You don't need your landlord's permission to change your meter. Your landlord can make you change your meter back when you move out.
If your rented home isn't energy efficient
You should have been given an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) - it might have been with the tenancy agreement or tenant information pack.
An EPC gives details of the energy efficiency of the property and comes with a report about how it can be improved. These improvements might make your home warmer and could reduce your energy bills.
A landlord has to provide an EPC to tenants for all new lets unless it's a:
- room in someone's home
- shared house let with more than one tenancy agreement
- hall of residence
- residential care home.
If your landlord doesn't provide an EPC, they can be fined £500 or more. Find out more about EPCs on mygov.scot.
If your home isn't very energy efficient, you could ask the landlord to make the improvements in the report. You can download a template letter and get advice from Home Energy Scotland.
Landlords don't legally have to carry out the improvements recommended in the report at the moment. But the Scottish Government plans to introduce minimum legal standards of energy efficiency for private rented homes from 2020. There's more information about these standards and free advice for landlords from Home Energy Scotland.
There are energy efficiency standards for social housing that landlords are expected to work towards. Speak to your landlord about what they're doing to make your home more energy efficient.
More about getting help with energy efficiency measures. Your can also contact Home Energy Scotland for free advice.
Home Energy Scotland
Tel: 0808 808 2282 (Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 9am-5pm)
Contact Form: www.homeenergyscotland.org/contact-advice-support-funding
If you're making payments towards a Green Deal loan
Your landlord, or the person who owns the home, might have taken out a Green Deal loan to pay for energy saving home improvements, like solar panels.
Check if the Energy Performance Certificate says there's a Green Deal in place.
A new tenant must be informed and acknowledge the Green Deal when they move into a property with an existing Green Deal. If you weren't informed you might not be liable for paying it.