We have had tenants who have left with outstanding bills and the utility company breaks the door to get in to disconnect the supply or take a meter away. We have also had tenants who have decided to change meters from prepayment to coin operated ones, etc. It is a lot of hassle trying to sort this - especially as you have noted that the utility company never gives a time to come to reinstate things, and you cannot afford to take too many days off work to just hang around waiting for them to turn up.
I know that we all say in our AST's that the tenant should not change the utility supplier without notifying the landlord and/or getting his permission, but it does not happen!
It seems to me that utility companies need to assist the landlord in some way. These tenants go off and rent a property in the nearby street and start a new account. The utility company does not recover his debt from the first property and very likely looses again with the second property, and so on.
I think that utility companies should be aware in their systems that the property is a tenanted property. I know that we cannot ask them to ask for a rent agreement everytime that they get a request for a change of supplier. But perhaps landlords can notify utility companies that the property is tenanted and this is noted in the utility company's database about the property; and stays there until a new owner of the property notifies them that he is responsible for the charges from thereon. Every company has some permanent information on their customers database and this could be kept here. When there are requests for some specific things such as meter changes or breaking the doors down, that they refer to the permanent information on their files about the property.
I only see this as a benefit for both sides - the landlords and the tenants. And only one extra bit of information that a responsible company (the utility company) needs to keep.
IS there something in place already that does this? Or is there a need for some changes?
I look forward to your comments.
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