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Switching energy supplier if you’re renting a property

Find out your rights to switch energy supplier as a tenant and compare plans through our preferred provider, Energylinx [1]

 Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 15 April 2020  | 3 min read read

If you’re renting and feel like you’re paying over the odds for energy, you have the right to switch suppliers. So long as you’re personally responsible for paying the gas and electricity bills.

Key points

  • If you pay the energy bills on your rented property, you’re entitled to switch energy tariffs with the same supplier
  • You can also switch supplier, but you’ll need to speak with your landlord first
  • You could save a lot of money by switching tariffs and/or suppliers
  • Your landlord can’t unreasonably stop you from switching, but you should notify them of planned changes (this might be a clause in your tenancy agreement)
  • You’ll need your landlord’s permission if you plan on changing the meter

Can tenants switch energy suppliers?

As a tenant, you have as much right to switch energy suppliers as a homeowner. So long as you pay the bills, the process for switching should be easy. You just need to have direct contact with your supplier (as opposed to your landlord paying them as an intermediary).

If you’re just switching tariffs, you should be able to do it any time. You could save a lot of money doing this, especially if you switch from a variable to a fixed-rate tariff. Fixed-rate tariffs lock in a set cost for energy, protecting you from any increases.

Want to switch suppliers? This is still possible, but get your landlord’s consent first. There could be a clause about this in your tenancy agreement.

 

If your landlord pays your energy bills

You don’t have the right to switch if your landlord pays your energy bills either directly or as an intermediary.

If your landlord pays the bills on your behalf (as an intermediary) there’s no harm in asking them to consider switching. Especially if you think you can save money on a different tariff or with a different supplier.

 

Money saving tips for tenants

  • Take meter readings when moving in and out of rented accommodation
  • Ask your landlord to highlight any supplier tie-ins up front, including exit fees
  • Compare energy tariffs and suppliers to find the best deal
  • Let your landlord know if you’re intending to switch
 

Can a tenant change the electricity meter?

Prepayment meters and tariffs tend to be more expensive. You might want to look at other options if the rented accommodation has one of these meters. They’re popular with landlords as they guarantee tenants won’t leave without paying their bills.

Ofgem explains you should be able to switch suppliers with a debt of up to £500 for gas and £500 for electricity.  If you’ve just moved in, tell the supplier as soon as possible. Or get your landlord to do so if they pay the bills. This will make sure you pay the right price for energy, and prevents you from covering debt from a previous tenant.

Some suppliers will upgrade you to a standard meter. Sometimes this is free of charge.  

If you pay directly for energy you can decide to have a smart meter installed. But you should tell your landlord about your plans – it might be written in your tenancy agreement.

 

Comparing energy prices

Ultimately, if you’re the one paying the bills, you have the right to shop around and switch to a better energy deal. No billpayer should feel trapped in a situation where they’re paying too much for energy. Living costs are high enough already.

That’s why it’s important to know your rights. This will help you to avoid feeling trapped and give you the confidence to switch tariffs or suppliers. Whether you’re a homeowner or tenant, shopping around is the best way to find a great deal.

If you’re just about to move into rented accommodation, take a meter reading straight away. Let your landlord know you intend to shop around and ask if there are fees or other considerations.  

When you call the current provider, ask for estimated energy usage figures. This will help when it comes to comparing tariffs and finding the best deal.

If you find a better deal after shopping around, then switch. This won’t happen immediately. But if the supplier is part of the Energy Switch Guarantee, it should take no longer than 21 days.

 

Energy payments – tenant rights

If you’re a bill-paying tenant, you have a right to decide how to spend your money. You also have a right to decide who you get your services from.

It won’t take long to compare quotes and switch if you find a better deal. Your best bet is to let your landlord know of your plans to switch tariffs or suppliers. This will help to make sure you don’t fall foul of the tenancy agreement.

Relevant reading

[1]GoCompare has partnered with Energylinx, part of the GoCompare Group, to help you switch energy. Energylinx Limited is registered in Scotland, registration number: SC244794, registered office: the e Centre, Cooperage Way, Business Village, Alloa, FK10 3LP

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