How to set up or switch energy supplier if you’re renting

07 May 2021 | Celia Topping

Man and woman chatting

There are some common misconceptions when it comes to renting and switching energy suppliers. So we’re here to clear up any confusion. 

First of all, can I switch energy supplier if I’m renting? 

This depends on who is paying your energy bills. If you’re paying your own bills, you have every right to compare energy suppliers and switch if you find a cheaper deal

What if my landlord pays my energy bills?

If your landlord’s directly responsible for paying the energy bills at the property you’re renting, you don’t have the right to switch yourself. This is the case if:

  • Your landlord pays the electricity and gas bills, then reclaims the money from you as the tenant
  • You’re paying a rental fee which includes the cost of the electricity and gas bills

Your tenancy agreement should tell you who’s responsible for paying these bills. Your landlord can’t just charge you what they want for energy though. There’s a set maximum resale price. If you feel your landlord is overcharging you for energy, check out the guidance from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. 

What if there’s a clause in my tenancy agreement about energy suppliers?

If you’re paying the bills directly, it’s still a good idea to let your landlord know that you’ve decided to change supplier. It’s an open gesture which will be appreciated, and keep you on good terms with your landlord. 

If your landlord pays the bills as part of your contract, they may not have changed suppliers for a while, and might actually benefit from switching. If you’re keen to switch to a different energy supplier like OVO and find a good deal, they might agree to switch – although they’re not obliged to do so. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that if your landlord has a number of properties, they may have an agreement with a certain supplier – so would be less likely to switch. 

Can my landlord choose my gas or electricity supplier? 

Your landlord has the right to choose your supplier if they’re paying for the energy directly. But there’s no reason why you can’t make a suggestion.

Can I get a smart meter as a tenant? 

Landlords are being encouraged to help their tenants benefit from smart meters. This is all part of the national drive to get smart meters installed into every home by 2030. So if you pay your bills yourself, now would be a perfect time to get one installed. We’d recommend you let your landlord know your intentions because:

  • There may be a section in your tenancy agreement about the type of meter that can be installed in the property. This is particularly relevant if your meter is in a communal part of the building. 
  • It forges a good relationship between you and your landlord.

Once you have a smart meter, you’ll be able ready to use our latest energy and money saving tools – like Power Move and OVO Beyond

If your landlord pays for your energy bills, it’s their decision whether or not they get a smart meter installed. But it's definitely worth telling them if you’d like one. Because of the current focus on reducing the nation’s carbon emissions, your landlord would have to have a good reason for not wanting one. For more help and advice on your rights with smart meters, check out the Ofgem guidelines. 

How long does it take to swap energy suppliers? 

It’s a straightfoward process and there’ll be no gap in supply or blackouts. Read on to find out how. 

Looking to switch right now? Get a quote with OVO – we’re trusted by millions of UK homes. For the lowdown on switching suppliers, check out our comprehensive guide.

OVO Energy get a quote

How to set up the gas and electricity supply in your rented home

So you’ve found the supplier and tariff you want to switch to. Here’s the information you’ll need to share:

  • Your address.
  • How many bedrooms you have.
  • Whether you need gas and electricity, or electricity only.
  • How you pay for your energy bills. 
  • A recent energy bill (for a more accurate quote1). If you don’t have this to hand, Ofgem’s handy service can help you find your supplier

At sign-up, your new supplier will need your bank account details to set up your Direct Debit.

Then, a few days or so after, you’ll be switched over, with no gap in supply. Your new supplier will let your old supplier know. And if you’re switching to OVO, we’ll look after everything, so you don’t have to think twice about the switching process. 

Can I switch energy suppliers if there’s a debt on my account?  

If you’ve had an outstanding balance on your account for less than 28 days, you can switch suppliers without any issue. But if you’ve owed money for longer than that, you’d have to settle, or agree on a way to settle, the balance first.

The only exception is if you have a prepayment meter. If this is the case, you can switch so long as the outstanding balance is less than £500 for gas, and/or £500 for electricity. 

If you’re concerned about energy debt, please read our guide on what to do if you’re struggling to pay your bills.

Can I change energy suppliers if I have a smart meter?

Smart meters aren’t an obstacle to switching suppliers. Most smart meters automatically update to the new supplier when you switch. But some are being remotely updated, and may not work immediately. Also, not all tariffs work with smart meters, so you’d have to check with your new supplier if this is the case.

Find out everything you need to know about changing energy suppliers if you have a smart meter in our helpful guide. 

Can I change energy suppliers if I have a prepayment meter?

There’s no problem switching suppliers if you have a prepayment meter. But if you’re looking to switch from prepayment to paying monthly, that’s something you’ll need to check with your new supplier before switching. 

Energy tips for tenants 

Knowing exactly what to do about your energy supply when you're moving house can be a little tricky. Here’s what to bear in mind: 

Before you move in 

It’s good to be prepared, so use our handy checklist:

  • Ask your landlord about the current supplier of your home. Or you can find out yourself.
  • If you’d like to switch supplier, check your rental contract and whether you have to let your landlord know. 
  • Look out for a “default supplier” clause. This means your landlord intends to keep using a specific supplier. If you’re going to be responsible for paying the energy bills, you have every right to switch, or ask the landlord to remove this clause. 
  • Start doing your research, and find out if you could save by switching.

If you’re moving soon, or thinking of moving, check out our home move checklist

When you move in 

Welcome to your new home! First things first, take a meter reading. This can be sent to the current supplier if you’re paying the bills, and to your landlord if not.

If you’re on a prepayment meter, let the supplier know as soon as you’ve moved in. This makes sure you won’t be charged for any debt built up by the previous tenant.

Read more about how to take a meter reading for the first time in our step-by-step guide.

Now’s the time to make the switch to your new supplier. You can get a quote from OVO in just a couple of minutes.

When you move out

Just like when you moved in, you’ll need to take a final meter reading when you move out, and send it to your supplier. This is particularly important, or you could end up paying for energy you didn’t use. 

If you have an outstanding balance to settle with your supplier, the best thing to do is contact them. You'll be able to discuss your options, like an affordable repayment plan that allows you to clear the balance over time. 

Ready to switch to OVO?

Switching to OVO is easy. Get a quote and start your switch – in under 2 minutes. 

Sources and references:

1 To find out how much you could save, it will help to have a recent energy bill to hand, so you can compare costs. We can give you an even more specific quote if you know how many kWhs (kilowatt hours) of electricity you usually use per month.