Is the landlord or tenant responsible for gas and electricity charges?

Key Points

This guide is designed to ensure that you are aware and understand who is responsible (landlord or tenant) for gas and electricity charges within any properties that you let.

Key points within the guide include:

  • If you own a property that you currently occupy, or own a property that is currently empty, you will be responsible for any bills or charges that may apply.
  • If you have a tenant within the property, you must ensure that in the tenancy agreement it is clear who will be responsible for payments. This may include measures such as changing the name on bills, or receiving payments directly from tenants.
  • Tenants will need to notify providers of move-in dates and meter readings, this can be done over the phone, online, or through written communications. Tenants will not be responsible for any previous charges or arrears.
  • Please note that anyone who puts their name(s) on a utility bill will ultimately be responsible for any outstanding charges. Multiple names on a bill will place responsibility on all names on the bill if payment is not fulfilled; regardless if one pays their part while another does not.
  • Finally, the contract between consumer and supplier will end with vacancy notification – usually requiring notification of at least two working days – for tenants, or if a new owner takes on the property. If a tenant vacates and there are no new tenants, the owner of the property will be responsible for any payments.

Contracts and Liability

1. Liability to pay may be under an express contract entered into with the electricity or gas supplier, in which case it is the customer under the contract who is the bill payer. An express contract may be made in a number of ways (e.g. by written application or on line). It will incorporate the supplier’s standard terms and conditions. These will make provision for when responsibility for payment ends – see further below.
2. Alternatively, as is sometimes the case, where there is no express contract, under the Electricity Code or Gas Code there is a deemed contract. The Codes provide that where an electricity or gas supplier supplies electricity or gas to a property, otherwise than under an express contract, the supplier is treated as contracting with the occupier (or the owner of the property if the property is unoccupied) for the supply as from the time when the supplier began to make the supply. In effect if a new occupier, or the owner (where the property is not lived in), starts to use electricity or gas then the supplier begins to make a supply for these purposes so a contract is made. The terms and conditions, of this deemed contract, are laid down by each supplier in their own terms and conditions. By taking a supply you become the bill payer even in the absence of a written request/agreement.

Changes in responsibility

3. Usually under a supplier’s terms and conditions it is provided that the current bill payer ceases to be responsible for paying once they are no longer the occupier (or the owner) of the property provided they give notice (usually two working days) before vacating. Otherwise, liability terminates on the first to occur of (i) the date (again usually two working days) after a supplier has been notified of vacation (or of a new occupier) or (2) the date that electricity is supplied to the property under a new contract (i.e. to someone else). This may be a new contract signed up with the supplier or it may be under a deemed contract as provided for by the Code because a new occupier (or the owner) has started to take a supply.

Green Deal

4. Liability to pay the Green Deal charges will coincide with liability to pay the electricity bill supply

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