Tenants Stealing Electricity – What do we do next?

Tenants Stealing Electricity – What do we do next?

13:34 PM, 19th June 2017, About 5 years ago 21

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I’m after some advice on a current (no pun) situation where it appears the tenants have dangerously rewired the Consumer Unit and tapped off the electricity before the meter, forfeiting all RCD safety.

The situation came to light when they complained that a gas engineer must have damaged something when he serviced the boiler “because it stopped working immediately after he left”.

On examination from a different gas engineer it was diagnosed to be a mains electrical problem and not the boiler. I immediately contacted an electrician to attend to this and hence we found the rewiring.

The tenants are claiming to be innocent of course, but I don’t believe them. They have lived there for about 4 years and I’m pretty sure that the tenants previously had not done this. In an attempt to ‘play innocent’ one of the tenants even video called me on Whatsapp to ‘show me’ what the electrician had found. I asked him to show me an electricity bill, which he waved about until I asked for it to be still, and it read £37. This was a quarterly bill.

Although they have always paid their rent on time, the flat has been terribly uncared for in their tenancy to the point where easily 60% of the walls of the property have been severely affected by mould due to condensation. The excuse is that it is too cold to open the windows…… No problems with previous tenants I might add.

The tenancy was originally only for two brothers but some time after it became apparent that there were also two young children and ‘possibly’ a girlfriend also living there.

We ended up taking a commercial point of view on it by accepting that there was no way we could rent that property out to anyone else in its condition and as they always paid their rent on time we let the dilapidation issue be. Thankfully one of the brothers (with the children and girlfriend) has some time ago said they wanted to leave as they were applying for a council flat and we’re just waiting for council approval and to get on the waiting list.

We all agreed to issue them a section 21 to aid in this process, but as you know the council only sees that as intention and not action so we were waiting patiently, until now.

In light of the danger to our property, the block of 30flats, his children and news of the recent fire at the tower block in London we wonder how we might pursue this. We have alerted the utility company who said they have been on radar due to low bills so that is one thing. But what about the dangerous rewiring? Hard to prove until we can get bill history from the suppliers, but what if/when we do?

Do we call the police? Do we issue a section 8? Do we call social services? Do we call the housing department at the council? They are already getting some housing allowance, we think. I just feel their irresponsibility has reached a point of requiring action and feel they should be pulled-up for their actions.

Thank you in advance

Adam



Comments

by C O'Neill

15:11 PM, 17th July 2017, About 4 years ago

I had a tenant who moved out in March/April without informing me, 5 months into a 12 month lease, stole the cooker and also re-wired or used a magnet on the electricity. Airtricity have stated they are owed £600 due to fradulent activity.

The police searched for this guys name and he doesnt exist. He provided a driving licence photograph as proof of identity but this was apparently faked.

Airtricity have stated that they will remove the debt in my name if i provide a solicitors letters confirming all of the above.

Can anyone advise if a solicitor would do this, and would they charge more than £500 - as I feel like just paying the balance to get Airtricity off my back.

by Annie Landlord

20:04 PM, 17th July 2017, About 4 years ago

Don't see why the electricity company would need a letter from a solicitor. If you have reported the issue to the police you should have been given a crime reference number. That, together with a copy of the tenant's application form should be enough. Has the electricity supplier been out to make the supply safe? I have also always been under the impression that if the landlord notifies energy suppliers when a tenant moves out, that we are not responsible for any debt in the tenant's name.

by C O'Neill

9:10 AM, 18th July 2017, About 4 years ago

Hi Annie,

I need to ring the police again and get the crime reference number then. I am not even sure if they recorded it. I rang 101 and talk to them about it. They basically seemed very uninterested and said that it was likely to be a false name and there was little I could do about it.

I have also emailed a few solicitors for a few quotes as to how much this would cost.

I will keep you all updated on the outcome.

by Annie Landlord

9:23 AM, 18th July 2017, About 4 years ago

Bet the police will say its a civil matter! If someone walked into a family home and stole a cooker it would be deemed a crime. It makes me so angry that landlords are not given equal protection in law. You will need the crime reference number and for it to be dated on the date you made the original call. Keep us updated.

by ___ baldelectrician

2:50 AM, 22nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

I see this quite a bit- as I am in Scotland where landlords must have a satisfactory check prior to letting
As a landlord you have a duty of care (even if you don't have an electrical test you have to make reasonable steps to ensure the property is safe)

You should do the following (in my opinion)
Ensure you have instructed a competent electrician to make the property safe- he may have to call the supplier to arrange a safety check from the meter supplier / DNO
Have a certificate from the electrician to prove the dwelling passes and EICR, make sure he / she takes photos and emails them to you / attaches them to a report
Ensure you have adequate smoke detector provision (mains interlinked hardwired is better but any are better than none).
You can now get 10 year battery ones.

by Jay James

9:25 AM, 22nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

Oh that's it, see a landlord getting treated like s*** and tell him about what he should do for the criminal tenant. Great.

by ___ baldelectrician

9:31 AM, 22nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

Yep - that's it

Had the landlord got an electrical check he could prove he has taken reasonable steps.

I did say to call the REC (electrical company) and they would fix it promptly.

If I call Scottish Power they are there within 4 hours (sometimes < 15 minutes). At night they send a person on standby.

If its a metering issue and its not their meter they make it safe (by removing the supply fuse) and tell the client to call the meter owner.

They will not reconnect the supply without a certificate from a registered electrical company.

by ___ baldelectrician

9:33 AM, 22nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

On a side issue- I recommend to my landlords to get a smart meter in their rental properties.
The smart meters are online (data sim) and send cries for help if the power is cut or it the cover is removed, they also check the meter terminal voltages and compare them (helps prevent abstraction)

by Jay James

9:49 AM, 22nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

are you the steve mclintock that left the comment I responded to?

by ___ baldelectrician

9:51 AM, 22nd July 2017, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jay James" at "22/07/2017 - 09:49":

Its not Steve
Yes

http://www.baldelectricain.com


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