Switching if renting or in debt
Understand your rights if you want to switch supplier while renting or in debt
Can I switch energy suppliers if I’m renting?
Ofgem (the energy regulator) says that tenants who are directly responsible for their own energy bills can legally switch energy supplier – and that landlords and letting agents can’t stop them without a very good reason. Some landlords may include a ‘preferred supplier’ clause in leases and rental agreements, but they can’t enforce this, so tenants don’t have to use the company named in the clause.
In fact, a landlord can only choose the energy supplier if they’re directly responsible for paying energy bills.
For example, if:
- Energy costs are included in your rent or accommodation charges.
- Your landlord pays the energy bills and then reclaims the money from you.
- Your landlord takes responsibility for the bills and supply between tenancies.
Can I change to a different kind of meter?
Yes, unless it means you need to carry out alterations to the property or if you’re looking to change from paying as you go to paying monthly, or vice versa. It’s best to ask your landlord about the change.
What should I do if there’s a preferred or default supplier named in my rental agreement?
Ofgem says that your landlord should tell you about any named suppliers, and give you details of their tariffs and charges.^ ^If there’s a clause in your lease or agreement naming a specific energy provider, talk to the landlord or agent about re-negotiating this.
Even if they refuse, you’re still entitled to switch energy supplier whenever you want, as long as you’re the person responsible for paying the energy bills.
Do I need to tell the landlord if I change energy supplier?
Only if there’s a clause in your lease stipulating it. There may also be a clause which states that you have to switch back to the original provider when you move out.
Can I switch energy suppliers when I’m in debt?
Possibly – if you’ve been in debt for more than 28 days, you can’t switch until you’ve paid the debt off to your current supplier. It also depends on the debt buying and selling policy of your current and new supplier.
Suppliers are required to support each other if a customer wishes to switch away while in debt. This means your current supplier has to allow your new supplier to buy your debt, meaning you pay it back to your new supplier instead.
Your new supplier can choose not to buy your debt, which means you’ll still have to pay it back to your old supplier.
If you pay as you go for your energy, you can take debt of up to £500, for each fuel, to a new supplier. This is called the Debt Assignment Protocol. If you'd like to do this, you'll just need to speak to your new supplier.
If you’re in debt because your supplier made a mistake, they can’t stop you switching. And if you’re in debt with us and need help, contact us right away and we’ll talk you through ways of paying it back gradually.