If you’re renting your home, you should still be able to shop around and find the best possible deal for your energy. However, it seems that many landlords are refusing to let private tenants switch to the energy provider of their choice. This is often because landlords are unaware of the law and worried that allowing tenants to change energy suppliers may cause problems.
According to comparison website uSwitch.com, UK renters are losing a total of around £161 million because landlords won’t let them exercise their right to choose. These are some of the main findings of their research:
13% of landlords admit denying private tenants their right to switch energy supplier – and this is adding at least £161 million to energy bills.
36% of landlords wrongly assume that naming a ‘preferred energy supplier’ in a rental agreement means they can stop tenants switching.
230,000 renters said they hadn’t switched because there’s a clause in their tenancy agreement saying that they can’t.
However, Ofgem (the energy regulator) states that tenants who are directly responsible for their own energy bills can legally switch energy supplier if they want – 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 are directly responsible for paying energy bills.
This might be true 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?
You can change the way you pay for your energy if you wish, and have the meter changed to a different mode (for example, from a credit meter to a prepayment meter) if necessary. Check with your supplier first, as they’ll be able to advise you according to your individual situation. However, you can’t change the meter if it means you need to carry out alterations to the property, and you might have to restore the meter to its former state when you move out.
Energy companies that own meters will often replace and upgrade them as they get old. If your meter is due for replacement, your supplier will write to you explaining your options. If you receive one of these letters, show it to your landlord before arranging for the work to be carried out.
What should I do if there’s a preferred or default supplier named in my rental agreement?
According to Ofgem, 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 renegotiating 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.
Find plenty of useful information and tips here.
Switching energy suppliers can save you money
No matter which company is currently providing your gas and electricity, it’s a good idea to check out the market regularly, as you might well be able to reduce your bills by changing to a new supplier. If you’re currently on a variable rate plan, you could also reduce your energy bills by switching to a fixed rate plan. Check with your supplier to find out what you could save. At OVO, we keep our costs as low as we can and do our best to treat our customers fairly. You'll also get our 3% OVO Interest Reward (rising to 5% in year 3).
Compare your current supplier’s offering with our range of energy plans here. They’re based on the assumption that you’re a medium energy user, paying by Direct Debit, and we’ve averaged the figures across all UK regions. Have a look to see how much you could save now.