Tenant not paid utility bill and fraudulently altered agreement!

by Readers Question

9:56 AM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Tenant not paid utility bill and fraudulently altered agreement!

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Tenant not paid utility bill and fraudulently altered agreement!

My tenant has built up a huge electricity bill and the company has finally caught up with her. She claims to have been living in the property for just a few months (having fraudulently altered her tenancy agreement) but she has actually been there two and a half years. Both the lettings agent and I have the appropriate evidence to prove this.tipex

The electricity company wish to install a pre-pay meter in the property. If she then moves out, will I be left with the outstanding debt? I am seriously considering giving her the two months notice to move out. Could I get saddled with a meter with thousands of pounds of debt on it? Would this be the case if she moves out?

Many thanks

Sue



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:01 AM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Sue,

I know from personal experience in a company I previously worked for that Utility companies can be very difficult to deal with once something goes wrong.

I would ask them by email exchange what they think the situation is and then you have any answers in writing and can deal with it from there.

Steve From Leicester

12:32 PM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

In the situation you have described the tenant (not you) is legally responsible for the bill and for any outstanding debt after she vacates, and it will be up to the utility company to pursue her.

The utility company might insist that a new occupier either retains a prepayment meter or pays a security deposit, but they can't hold you (or any new occupier) liable for the existing debt.

andy adewale

12:36 PM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

@Sue, fret not.

As long as you have solid documentary evidence that your tenant lived in the property for the duration of the bill and your tenancy agreement clearly stipulates that she is responsible for the bills, you won't be saddled with the bill. The electricity company will pursue her for payment not you. After all, the bill is not attached to the property. It is attached to the person responsible for paying it.

One thing that the provider may insist on in the future for future supply and which may impact on your subsequent tenants, is a deposit on account at the time the utility is transferred over to their name(s). I have seen electricity suppliers do this for sums up to £200 and usually refundable after one year.

Fret not, good luck with it.

Ian Narbeth

13:05 PM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "18/04/2016 - 12:32":

I would resist very strongly having a pre-payment meter installed. They are undesirable and will lead to higher bills as well as devaluing your property and making it less attractive to prospective tenants.
Write to the utility company stating who you are (send a copy of your Land Registry title to prove it), explain the position and that the defaulting tenant has gone. Say that you do not want a pre-payment meter and that they must not install one. Say that they are not authorised to enter the property to install one and that if they do you will (a) require them to remove it at their expense and make good any damage caused and (b) will report them to Ofgem. Tell them that if they seek a warrant to install such a meter they must notify you before doing so you and that you will oppose it on the ground that you have no debt and the debtor is no longer at the house. Ask them if they have already implemented the procedure to install a meter and ask to see copies of any correspondence.

You could also refer to paragraph 25C of the Standard conditions of electricity supply licence

"25C.2 The objective of this condition is for the licensee and any Representative to ensure that each Domestic Customer is treated fairly"

and point out that it is not treating you fairly to penalise you because of another person's default. You might also look up a copy of the particular company's Code of Conduct and see if they are breaching any part of it. Cite the relevant part(s) to them.

Send your letter by recorded delivery. This should stop them in their tracks as they will realise they are dealing with someone who is (a) well-informed and (b) not impoverished.

mary marshall

13:46 PM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Narbeth" at "18/04/2016 - 13:05":

Thank you for all the advice. I have not yet given her notice so she is still in occupation of the property. Do I have the right to demand that the electricity company do not install the meter?

mary marshall

13:57 PM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "andy adewale" at "18/04/2016 - 12:36":

Thank you. Very helpful comments and I'm trying not to worry ...Sue

mary marshall

14:00 PM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "18/04/2016 - 12:32":

Thank you, most reassuring.
Regards Sue

mary marshall

14:02 PM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "18/04/2016 - 10:01":

Thank you Neil, I will do that.
Regards Sue

Ian Narbeth

14:08 PM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "mary marshall" at "18/04/2016 - 13:46":

Hi Sue
I read your post rather too quickly and assumed your tenant had moved out. Your tenant sounds untrustworthy and I can quite understand your considering getting her out.
The electricity company will be on strong ground for getting a warrant if she is still there. If you do take steps to get her out then you could try to forestall them but otherwise I think they will be able to put the meter in.

mary marshall

14:54 PM, 18th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Thank you. I appreciate your advice. I will contact the electricity board and try to persuade them to wait until my tenant has gone. Regards Sue

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