Legal responsibility – N Power or Landlord?

by Readers Question

15:49 PM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Legal responsibility – N Power or Landlord?

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Legal responsibility – N Power or Landlord?

A tenant vacates a property and both the tenant and managing agent provided final meter readings to the utility company to terminate the supply of electricity and gas.n power

However, N Power fails to terminate the utility supply.

The property is then empty for 9 months with the service still connected and at the end of 9 months the Landlord is sent a bill by N Power for £900 who say it is the Landlords legal responsibility to pay.

When told there is no contract between the Landlord and N Power they say that does not matter, its the landlords responsibility to pay the charges on a vacant property

When N Power is told they should have terminated the supply they say they never switch services off because if they did so they would have to turn them on again and they cannot manage that with thousands of properties.

Who is right and who is wrong. What is the exact legal situation. Who exactly is responsible for paying N Powers bill. What should the Landlord do in this situation.

Many thanks

John



Comments

Neil Patterson

15:55 PM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi John,

First of all is it even conceivable that £100 per month was used? What was left on and running? It would have been winter so was the heating left on to avoid burst pipes?

Have you checked the meter readings for the last 9 months are correct?

Do you have any proof of communication that N-Power said they would turn off the power supply?

Considering the above have you or will you make a complaint to Ofgem >> https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/

I do not know what the legal position is though if the owner of a property has used the energy but has no contract with the supplier.

JC Ward

20:42 PM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Thanks for your response
N Power say the bills for the 9 months are all estimates.
I have checked the readings and the likely bill would be considerably less.
Both the tenant & the Managing agent are happy to go to court and conform they both gave N Power close meter readings.
Re Ofgen -
I have no idea what the legal situation is in these situations. Is the Landlord legally liable when no contract between him and and the utility provider exists. According to N Power, yes he is
Can a utility company continue to supply services and then charge for them despite being told the supply is no longer required. According to N Power, yes they can
Finally, N Power have now appointed heavy weight bailiffs to collect the £900.
Its a ridiculous situation
John

Darlington Landlord

20:51 PM, 27th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Was any gas/electricity used? ie are the meter readings the same now as when the property was vacated. If yes and the landlord was put on a "deemed contract" rather than signing up you can argue that they do not have the right to charge you the standing charge.
Npower don't have the worst customer service rating for nothing. I have found that if you complain and don't let the person you talk to close the complaint - say yes I realise you have done everything you can but I don't have (whatever final result you are looking for) - you get a call from a specialist department within 24hrs who are much more able to sort things out and give compensation if needed.

S Hays

12:30 PM, 28th September 2016
About 2 years ago

NPower are a disgrace with their estimated billings. They don't listen to the customer. Threaten to report them to the ombudsman by a certain date if they haven't sorted it. If they don't sort it , then report them. Compensation of £100 is usually paid for your time and effort.

john henderson

12:50 PM, 28th September 2016
About 2 years ago

This is very common, but you are fully liable for gas/elect used in that time and the charge per week for the meters.

always get the final move out readings of the tenants and then transfer the utilities into your name if keeping there property empty for a time. If empty for a month there will be no charge as it falls under their threshold to pursue money. Then it goes into a new tenants name.

In this case you have been paying the utilities for 9 months and there is no way out of it. You have been hiring their meters in this time. IF you used gas/ elect you will have to pay that as well.

£900 is an estimate and so your actual usage will be much lower. Just give them the move out readings you hopefully took when the tents left and pay the bill. Simple. Renting prepay meters is about £1.80 per week per meter. So for 9 months rental the standing charge will be £130 approx. Add in any power used and i reckon you should be paying £200-300 max.

Helen (up North)

13:28 PM, 28th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Sorry I can’t help with your question but just wanted to let you know about Ebico energy supplier. I switch the supply to them when we are refurbing a property or have an empty property. The energy plans have zero standing charges, basically you only pay for what you use – ideal if your property is left empty. Also it is the same price regardless of your payment method, Pay-as-You-Go no more than credit metered customers for the same amount of energy. The tariff is slightly higher but I just keep an eye on meter readings.

JC Ward

15:33 PM, 28th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi all,
All the replies and advice were extremely helpful.
Especially Helen's recommendation of Ebico.
The lessons to be learnt here are -
Never ever deal with N Power if you value your time, your sanity and your finances
Understand that contracts have no validity whatsoever according to N Power
Dont just phone close meter reading in to N Power. Follow this up by sending them recorded delivery. N Power will even dispute receiving that but at least there is hard evidence.
Thanks to everyone once again
I am now going into bat with N Power once again zzzzzzz. Hold the phone for 3 hours
John

Mike

16:38 PM, 28th September 2016
About 2 years ago

First of all way to deal with this claim would be to first ask then to provide you with a proper bill with all meter readings they used, not just a demand notice to pay £900.00, then you work out from their meter readings what they have charged you for, i.e. how many kilowatts (units) of gas and electricity, and have they given you duel fuel discount? then work out how they have been charging you standing charge per day, so work out number of days they claimed to have charged you for those days, and assuming no electricity or gas was used and your meter readings did not change much more than perhaps a few kilo watts of electricity for turning on an odd light here and there when you may have gone to visit it from time to time, then thats all you pay for.

My rough estimate is standing charge 9 months equals about 273 days at roughly 30p per day per fuel, so multiply by 2 = £163.80 worst case scenario it cannot be more than £200.00 at the most.

So demand an accurate bill and refuse to pay anything, write to them categorically stating that you will not pay them anything as their bill is inaccurate and based on estimated readings, and that they send someone to take meter readings, as you cannot read meters, so let them write back to you giving you an appointment or time for them to send in a meter reader, who then takes the latest reading, and gives you a final bill.

As far as I know, you may not be able to switch your supplier if you owe money so trying to change supplier whilst debt is owed, the current supplier will stop your application approval.

Just say you are willing to pay them for any gas or electricity used since last readings given.

Don't forget the last time you or your agent provided meter readings also means that any charge that stood up to that reading is also due, if assuming you did not get your tenant to have paid that. But you can always dispute that and no as a landlord you are not liable to pay for someone.Unless it was agreed first or if it was an HMO.

JC Ward

18:29 PM, 28th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Mike
Thats very helpful
I made little progress with N Power this afternoon so will try again tomorrow and follow your script
Thanks once again for your very precise and helpful advice
John

Jay James

19:30 PM, 28th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "JC Ward" at "28/09/2016 - 18:29":

It would be a good idea to pay what you think you owe. You have a legal obligation to do this in the event of disputed amounts. Working out what you owe is fairly easy given the move out reading, today's reading and Npower's tariffs which are online.

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