Resolving prepayment meter dispute?

Resolving prepayment meter dispute?

0:01 AM, 8th November 2023, About a month ago 70

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Hello, I repossessed my student property to find the main house electricity supply meter, situated in a bedroom, had been changed to a prepayment meter without my knowledge.

I’ve renovated the house as an HMO (It’s in an Article 4 area), and now I want the utility company to return the credit meter.

They say NO, not until I pay off the unpaid £2,500+ of electricity used by the occupying tenants for the previous 5 years. They say they set up a deemed contract in my name 5 years earlier and that I am liable. They acknowledged they had my contact details on file but never used it to bill me or contact me. The property is now renovated but empty.

What can I do?


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Mick Roberts

11:17 AM, 8th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

I'll post to receive replies as this is my big bug bear when tenants leave. As getting any sense out Gas Electric companies is the worst thing on the planet for me.


11:39 AM, 8th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

So presumably the students were responsible for supply prior to renovation? Did you not notice change of meter during inspections? I'd also be concerned about the signed document the supply company say they have holding you responsible. I'd want to see that. To be honest you have a dilemma as how can you convert without a supply! Think I'd bite the bullet and pay....and then refer the matter to OFGEM (it will be a process but they are there to resolve disputes such as this).

david.... (not Goliath)

12:11 PM, 8th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

Thanks, but there was no signed contract. They are saying a deemed contract existed in my name but they are wrong because they knew the property was occupied. There is not direct route to OFGEM for complaints. This natter has been to the Ombudsman twice. They and the Utility Companies seem to be afraid of implementing the 1989 Electrucity Act, which states that the occupiers are responsible for the supply snd the landlord is only responsible for the supply when the property is empty.


12:18 PM, 8th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

So you didn't give them the tenants details when they moved in and didn't ask to close your own interim account at that point? If so, then you probably owe the money.

Seething Landlord

12:28 PM, 8th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

You need to review any communications that you have had with the supplier, particularly anything notifying them that the tenants were responsible for payment of the energy bills or terminating your previous contract. Also check the validity of the deemed contract.

The Ofgem website says at : "A deemed contract normally applies if you move into new business premises and don’t agree a contract. You could also be on a deemed or out-of-contract contract if your current contract ends but the supplier continues supplying energy that you use."

More information at,existing%20supplier%20or%20a%20new%20one.&text=A%20deemed%20energy%20contract,or%20a%20new%20one.&text=energy%20contract%20is%20a,existing%20supplier%20or%20a

david.... (not Goliath)

15:24 PM, 8th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by David at 08/11/2023 - 12:18
No, in 42 years, no utility company has ever asked me for details of tenants in my HMO's. But despite that, I would never provide the details of tenants in my HMO's to utility companies (and nor should you, or any other landlord) as I/you/they risk falling foul of Data Protection legislation. Landlords should never provide the details of their tenants to any 3rd party if they have good reason to believe it may do them harm. By supplying the name of any one tenant you make then liable for the whole bill, that would bring them financial harm. Disclosing their name is a decision a tenant should make once the implications have been explained to them by the utility company.(which they never do)

david.... (not Goliath)

15:35 PM, 8th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 08/11/2023 - 12:28Thanks for the links. The 1989 Electricty Act is the relevant one in my case. That states clearly that it is the occupiers using the supply who are liable. The landlord is only liable when the property is empty. Many utility companies try and pull a fast one if there is a growing debt on an HMO, (or more usually if the tenants have not registered their names). The fast one they pull is to send the bills to the rental property with the landlords name on. In my case they did this while the tenants were still in occupation but the tenants didn't tell me. (Why should they, they had 3 years of free electricity .....until a prepayment meter was fitted). All this time I knew nothing.

david.... (not Goliath)

15:53 PM, 8th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 08/11/2023 - 11:17Wait for a later post I have lined up..... If you have an HMO where the rent includes gas and electricity, and the costs have increased more than what you budgeted for, then I have a solution which reduced my costs to £0/mth and the bills fell by 50%.


10:10 AM, 9th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

Lets just clear up exactly how the metering in the property is arranged.

You mention in the opening post,

"the main house electricity supply meter, situated in a bedroom, had been changed to a prepayment meter without my knowledge"

does this imply that this is the one that solely meters all electricity into the house?

Did individual tenants/students have individual meters for their own accommodation?

Was electricity included in the rent you charged the students?

david.... (not Goliath)

11:16 AM, 9th November 2023, About 4 weeks ago

Thanks for your further interest. The same utility company had been supplying electricity to this property for the previous 8 years and were fully aware the house was a shared student HMO. The tenancy agreement for the 4 tenants (on individual room lets) made them responsible for paying the bills and as far as I knew they did. The utility company never contacted me even though they admit having my contact details. For my protection against being liable for ANY HMO utility bills (including where gas and electricity are part of the rent), I have always relied on the fact that the default position if the tenants failed to pay for electricity, is that the 1989 Act and the utility companies general deemed terms and conditions always make the occupiers liable, not the landlord. The landlord is only liable when the property is empty. But the Energy:Ombudsman, the utility companies AND OFGEM, do not like this and keep STUM. The tenants contract was never determined and they, and subsequent tenants, remained in occupation throughout. Yet, 5 years after the event, the utility company said they created a deemed contract in my name. I disagree. Now, even after the ombudsman ruled in 2021 that the debt was not recoverable due the the back billing rule, the utility company still refuse to re-instate the credit meter unless I pay them £2,500. Its stalemate.

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