Shelter warns over landlords keeping a tenant’s £400 energy payment

Shelter warns over landlords keeping a tenant’s £400 energy payment

10:52 AM, 4th August 2022, About A week ago 12

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The housing charity Shelter is warning that the government’s £400 energy rebate may see tenants missing out if their rent includes energy bills because the cash will be paid to the landlord.

They say that tenants are at the ‘mercy of the landlord’ on whether they receive the financial support.

Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate, said: “Tenants whose energy bills are included in their rent or service charge cannot directly claim the energy discount.

“Instead, they will be at the mercy of their landlord passing on this much-needed support.”

‘No specific legal obligation for landlords to pass on this support’

She added: “There’s no specific legal obligation for landlords to pass on this support but they aren’t allowed to overcharge tenants for the energy they’ve used or make a profit on it.

“This could be the case if they pocket the government support and continue to charge the same rate for utilities. Landlords can only charge for energy used, the standing charge and VAT.”

Ms Neate continued: “It is unfair that those at the very sharp end of this crisis could miss out on this much-needed support.

“The government is looking into this as they’ve acknowledged it’s not right.

“We urge them to make sure this support goes straight to the people who need it the most, not their landlords.”

Citizens Advice is also warning that some landlords whose rents are inclusive of bills may keep the discount, rather than pass the savings onto tenants.

They said: “With predictions that high prices are set to be a feature of the energy market at least until well into next year, this creates fresh urgency to future-proof protections for renters, including ensuring they can control their energy supply, and aren’t subject to practices which exclude them from the market such as sub-metering.

13% of tenants have their energy bills included in their rent

It’s estimated that around 13% of tenants, that’s around 585,000 households, currently have their energy bills included in their rent.

The government says it expects the discount to be passed on by landlords.

The National Residential Landlords’ Association (NRLA) also say that the discount should be passed on by landlords where tenants incur the cost of increasing energy bills.

However, the NRLA spokesperson pointed out that there will be cases where an all-inclusive rent has been set that will not reflect the recent rise in energy costs.

The spokesperson said: “In most cases, tenants pay their energy bills separately from their rent. As such, they will receive the Government’s support payments directly.

“Where rents include the cost of utilities, and tenants incur the cost of increased energy bills, the savings from the support scheme should be passed on to them.

They added: “The government needs to ensure that its scheme recognises such cases where it is the landlord who is ultimately paying the cost of increased bills, rather than the tenant.”

Package of measures announced by the government

The £400 discount on energy bills is part of a package of measures announced by the government to help households tackle the rising cost-of-living, particularly their energy bills.

This week they published details of how the money would be paid and for tenants who have their energy bills included in their rent, the discount will be paid to their landlord because they are the bill payer.

However, the Government has said it still expects landlords to pass on the discount.

A spokesman said: “In these circumstances, landlords who resell energy to their tenants should pass the discounted payments on appropriately, in line with Ofgem rules to protect tenants.”

For landlords and tenants who would like more information about getting help if they cannot afford to pay their energy bills, Ofgem has published a useful page of advice.



Comments

Grumpy Old Git

12:12 PM, 5th August 2022, About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by DSR at 05/08/2022 - 11:53
Unless the person who pays the bill is a landlord (obviously!).

moneymanager

10:32 AM, 6th August 2022, About A week ago

"Shelter warns over landlords keeping a tenant’s £400 energy payment"

Humm??

Shelter warns landlords of tenants keeping a tenancy beyond the contracted or notice period, not paying rent, and leaving a mess and damage?

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