Agents failing to tell tenants they have legal right to switch energy suplliers

Landlords and lettings agents are failing to make tenants aware of their rights when it comes to energy bills, MoneySupermarket has claimed.

UK renters are missing out on savings worth more than £1bn collectively on their energy bills because they do not know they are able to switch suppliers, the website says.

Analysis by the website among 2,000 respondents found 49% of tenants were not given any information about their energy provider at the start of their tenancy and 12% thought their landlord was solely responsible for switching providers, while 10% didn’t know who their supplier is and 6% didn’t even know where to find their meter.

Under rules set out by Ofgem, the energy market regulator, if a tenant’s name is on the bill, they have the right to switch supplier.

Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySupermarket, said: “When it comes to energy switching in rented property, there is some confusion over who takes responsibility. In an ideal world, you would be provided with information on who the supplier is, and the average bill size at the start of the agreement.

“Renters would then be encouraged to shop around for a cheaper tariff and make the switch. However, it seems this isn’t happening in far too many instances.

“Ofgem has stated categorically that tenants are entitled to change supplier at any time if they are responsible for paying the energy bill, and should not be unreasonably prevented from doing this. There are savings of up to £359 per household to be made by switching suppliers, so it pays to take control and shop around.”

The research comes three years after provider Spark Energy, which specialises in deals in the lettings market with agents such as Foxtons and LSL, was investigated for breaching switching rules following a BBC watchdog investigation.

Spark Energy has more recently been noted for customer satisfaction compared with the Big Six suppliers by consumer watchdog Which? while the company ranks among the least complained about independent suppliers, according to Ofgem data.

However, it is by no means the cheapest. It currently offers a fixed dual fuel deal until March 2018 charging 3.73p per KWh for gas and 14.18p per KWh for electricity.

In comparison, Places for People Energy offers one of the cheapest fixed deals until October 2018, charging 3.10p per KWh for gas and 13.3p per KWh for electricity.

Shaun Burnett, Spark Energy’s director of customer and brand experience, told EYE: “It’s unfortunate that tenants still aren’t more aware of their energy rights. Spark was created to provide a better service for tenants than was traditionally available to them, so we’re absolutely committed to raising awareness of their rights to choose a supplier that’s right for them.

“We do everything we can to raise awareness amongst our customers – it’s vital to making sure that tenants don’t get left behind in an industry traditionally focused on home owners.

“As soon as a tenant turns the key in the door and switches on the lights they begin to consume energy. Without engaging with their supplier, they risk missing out on savings available by choosing direct debit, fixing their prices or paying in advance, and we encourage tenants to make contact as early as possible and to understand their options.”

He said every tenant whose property is signed up to Spark Energy gets a welcome pack waiting for them on the doormat when they arrive, giving them all their tariff information and letting them know about their right to choose a new supplier.


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Written by: Houseladder