14:45 PM, 14th November 2022, About 7 months ago 11
Dear fellow Property 118 members, Although we have a couple of residential properties, this unpaid tenant’s utility bill refers to a commercial property day nursery tenancy issue, but could equally apply to an AST, I believe.
The nursery suddenly advised us they had ceased trading, cleared the building, and are now effectively asking to hand back the keys and walk away, even though their occupational lease, being an FRI (full repairing and insuring) commits them to many obligations. The lease has over two and a half years to run and was in force when we took ownership of the property, about two years ago.
Once I gained authority to enter, I happened to meet the postman as I was opening the shutters, and he handed the mail to me, which I was simply going to place nearby for the tenant to collect.
I noticed that an EDF letter was addressed to us, that being the limited company landlord title at the nursery address. I then correctly opened this to find that a bill in the sum of £3,600 plus, as a “Final Account,” is, in fact, in our company name!
I immediately contacted EDF but got nowhere trying to establish how this has happened, and for how long, and then spoke to a specialist solicitor who advised that, although this could be a case of fraudulent misrepresentation, the bill may nevertheless need to be paid by us, due to difficulties getting an energy supplier to alter an existing account title, and that this is likely to apply, even after sending them a copy of the lease.
He suggests we should try to then get it refunded by the tenant, as the lease is still in force in law, despite them having left the property.
The tenant says the day nursery Ltd. company is to be liquidated, and that, as personal guarantor, she may also file for bankruptcy, and “doesn’t understand the bill situation at all”, but is not responsible. Obviously we take that with a pinch of salt, and have stated that, apart from other breaches of contract, she is responsible for all services.
While awaiting the return of our trusted solicitor from holiday, we are unsure how best to proceed in order to try to absolve ourselves of any responsibility for this gas and electric duel fuel bill which, to make matters even worse, also details an ongoing daily standing charge of around £8.00. Yes, £8.00!
We are now evaluating whether to auction the property, despite it having previously given excellent cashflow, due in part to inadvertently discovering this significant shock.
The members’ thoughts would be most welcome. Thank you.
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23:29 PM, 8th December 2022, About 6 months ago
I am not legally qualified, in fact I am not qualified in any way but if the utility company pursue you for this money I would be asking them for the contract that they must have with you in order to pursue the payment. If they send a third party to try and get the money then I would think you have no contract with them either.
Also I have recently read that the meter reading companies (what is erroneously referred to as the "supplier") actually undertake to pay the real suppliers at the end of each day and that what they have with the consumer is actually a credit agreement and as this is not disclosed to the consumer then the whole thing is fraudulent.