Can tenants switch energy supplier?
Yes they can and many will save a lot of money if they do. Energy suppliers are notorious for not giving existing customers the cheapest tariffs, so tenants should definitely shop around to see if they can get a better deal.
If your landlord tells you you can’t switch energy supplier, tell them they’re wrong and refer them to the Ofgem website.
The same goes for your broadband and phone line – you can switch if you want to, assuming you (not the landlord) are directly responsible for paying the bills. Check your tenancy agreement if you’re not sure who is paying for what.
However, even if you do pay the bills, there are certain circumstances where it might not be cheaper to switch suppliers, even if you find a cheaper tariff elsewhere.
If your landlord has stated in their tenancy agreement that they have a ‘preferred supplier’, they might require you to switch the property back to this supplier at the end of the tenancy, so you might not be able to switch to a cheaper tariff that locks you in for a long period of time unless you can persuade your landlord to remove this requirement. Try discussing this with them before you sign the tenancy agreement.
Can tenants switch from a prepayment meter?
Yes, you can switch to a regular meter and this could save you a lot of money. Your landlord can’t prevent you from changing, but, again, you might have to put the prepayment meter back when you leave.
If you get behind with your energy bills, your supplier might require you to switch from a regular meter to a prepayment meter. Again, your landlord can’t prevent this but you might need to have the prepayment meter removed at the end of the tenancy.
Don’t forget that your landlord has a legal obligation to show you a copy of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before you sign the tenancy agreement. This will show you roughly how much your energy bills will come to each year and give you some idea where you can save money, for instance, switching to low energy lightbulbs.
Some landlords include the energy bills in the rent, or charge tenants separately for their energy use. This is common where several tenants are sharing the same property but each has their own rent-a-room tenancy agreement. Note that the landlord can only charge you for your share of the actual bills, they mustn’t charge you a premium.
For further information, go to Citizens Advice.