Tenant runs up £882.60 on prepayment meter?

Tenant runs up £882.60 on prepayment meter?

10:10 AM, 29th September 2023, About 5 months ago 20

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Hello, I am being harassed by a debt collection company. They claim that electricity worth £882.60 was used at a house I let out as two flats, between 2013 to 2020, from a prepayment meter, and no payments were made to the meter.

I made the mistake of ringing them when a letter arrived at the house during a void, to ask what it was about. I fail to understand how a large bill £882.60 can be run up on a prepayment meter, and have put this to to the debt collection company. They say that meters don’t cut off when they run out of credit, at certain times.

Now, I have looked online and know at evenings and weekends, when it is hard to top up, meters can continue giving credit until the next day, BUT I thought that you needed to be in credit before these ‘friendly non-disconnection hours’ started.

I offered to help the debt collection company in any way I could, as they were asking for the tenants names, BUT I don’t believe I can just give them the names of all tenants who have been in both flats for nearly an eight-year period, Surely that contravenes GDPR on personal information? However, the debt collection company have been unable to tell me a tenant name, or even which flat.

This harassment started in early 2021, at that time they were pursuing the debt on behalf of Scottish Power. When I asked them to tell me a tenant name or even which flat, they said they would make inquiries and get back to me.

I received a letter at my own house a couple of months ago, to say they have now ‘bought’ the debt from Scottish Power and are again saying there is a debt of £882.60 owed, and as I have not told them who ran this up (?) they are attributing the debt to me. They claim they can do this as they assume I either owned the house when it was not tenanted or lived at the house myself. I did own the house for some time before this debt, it has always been tenanted in both flats, and I have never lived there.

They have supplied me with the meter number, and are asking me to inspect the meters in both flats to find out which flat ran up the debt. I am saying that it is their job. However, I have checked the photographs that we take between tenancies, of all electrics and meters, and although the purpose of these is not to show meter numbers, I don’t believe the meter number they give is in either flat. I am going to visit both tenants tomorrow to photograph specifically the meter numbers, and any previous ‘meter check’ labels that may be on them.

I believe that will prove that the CURRENT meters are not the one they are claiming, and probably a history of check labels back several years beyond their 2020 date. (Can I charge them for my considerable time and travel costs?)

This is not my debt, and to the best of my knowledge not any of my tenants’ debt, especially on prepayments meters. This is plain and simple harassment.

Does anyone have any ideas how to get these debt collection people off my back?

Thanks,

Paul


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Comments

Neil Robb

8:01 AM, 30th September 2023, About 5 months ago

Debts not your s you need prove .

Put in complaint to energy company.

Follow through go to ombudsman.

Look at your credit file they have put a mark on it .

You need it removed not just satisfied.

Do not let them close complaint until you see it removed.

Of you will have trouble remortgaging.

Jessie Jones

15:32 PM, 30th September 2023, About 5 months ago

With respect to Data Protection, all landlords should be registered with the Data Commissioner (and pay their registration fee). So long as your GDPR Privacy Notice identifies that you will use their personal details to inform utility companies and the Council, then you are not in breach of any GDPR rules.

In respect of the debt collection companies, it all depends on what evidence they have of your liability on whether they will take it to Court. There is an implied liability for the landlord if they have not informed the utility company of who is responsible, so I always send an email to the utility companies when a new tenant moves in. As someone else said, don't use their online reporting tools as this doesn't give you a paper trail.

Martin Hicks

11:42 AM, 6th November 2023, About 4 months ago

As regards contacting the utility company, often there is an online chat facility which offers a record of the conversation to be downloaded after its completion. This records both partners in the discussion, and can be referred back to by either party if required.

David

15:46 PM, 7th November 2023, About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Michael Booth at 29/09/2023 - 15:51
A tenancy agreement is a contract with the tenant, not the utility provider. Unless you formally notified the provider of the tenants details and closed any interim account you may have had for the supply, they can assume that you are the liable party.

david.... (not Goliath)

12:18 PM, 9th November 2023, About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David at 29/09/2023 - 15:31
The balance of power needs to be changed from utility companies to landlords. If a utility company is seeking payment for utility bills from a landlord then surely the burden of proof is on the utility company to prove the tenants contract has been determined. Utility companies will always try to put pressure on landlords to 'reveal the names of tenants'. Until we get a national landlord friendly utility supplier, why help utility companies? There is no obligation for landlords to disclose the names of tenants and this practice should stop. Especially if landlords have good reason that revealing names will bring the tenants harm (financial harm counts). It is only when the the tenant(s) contract(s) are determined, and the property is empty, that the landlord becomes liable for (i) the standing charge, and (ii) the supply if any is used. Let utility companies learn to engage with their customers using their supply, why should landlords do the administration for utility companies without reward?

david.... (not Goliath)

15:10 PM, 9th November 2023, About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Robb at 30/09/2023 - 08:01Your point one Neil, are you sure? They looks to be a typo. If it is meant to read..."Debts not yours you need to prove" Try this...I think you owe me £1,500. Should you have to prove you do not owe it, or do you think I should prove that you do owe it?

Neil Robb

20:38 PM, 9th November 2023, About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by david.... (not Goliath) at 09/11/2023 - 15:10
No it was predictive texting . I never noticed .

Should read the debt is not the owners but the tenants .

And the person should follow the advice about getting it removed if on credit file.

That's how I saw my credit go from 1000 out of 1000 to 400 something .

It needs fully removed not just settled

David

14:01 PM, 10th November 2023, About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by david.... (not Goliath) at 09/11/2023 - 12:18
I think you've missed the point. If the tenants never registered for an account, then as far as the utility company knows, they were never there and responsibility for the supply defaults to you as the property owner. If you choose to wilfully not cooperate with the provider in proving that there were tenants, then don't be surprised if they take enforcement action against you.

david.... (not Goliath)

16:35 PM, 10th November 2023, About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David at 10/11/2023 - 14:01To answer your post (1) "If the tenants never registered for an account, then as far as the utility company knows, they were never there and responsibility for the supply defaults to you as the property owner".
And (2) "If you choose to wilfully not cooperate with the provider in proving that there were tenants, then don't be surprised if they take enforcement action against you".
For (1) True, it is likely that the tenants did not register for an account, but as occupiers they are the only ones liable. You have hit the button on the head but will be unaware that the supply was being used at a daily rate that reflected continual occupation as in the previous 8 years. The big industry problem, and the one that needs to be challenged and clarified, is that utility companies peddle the same argument that "as property owner/landlord, you are then responsible for the supply even when "we just think it is empty". l do not accept their argument that landlords are liable by default, nor does the 1989 Act support that argument. It suits the utility company to try that argument and it probably works in most situations. But the big mistake the utility company made in my case is that they subsequently revealed that immediately prior to them creating a so called deemed account in my name the property was occupied and there was a debt. Actual meter readings recorded then reveal continual usage at the usual average daily usage rate for that time of the year, and when challenged, they have failed to provide any evidence that (a) the previous deemed contract of the occupiers was determined, (b) the property was empty, and (c) that the landlord actually used any of the supply. By good fortune, the tariff at the time was no standing charge. This meant that if the property was actually empty there would be no debt.
For (2) I did not have the choice to wilfully not co-operate. The utility company, despite having my contact details, did not involve me. I found out about this so called deemed contract, by chance, 5-1/2 years later when I registered for the supply of the empty property.

David

10:04 AM, 12th November 2023, About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by david.... (not Goliath) at 10/11/2023 - 16:35
Sorry, but I'm giving up responding to your posts about this now as I think you must have another agenda in continuing to assert that the landlord is not responsible. I hope its clear to anyone else reading these 2 threads that they are and must give details of the tenant to the utility company at the start of the tenancy to avoid liability.

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