One in ten tenants illegally stopped from switching utilities
Tuesday 28th August 2012
One in ten tenants have been illegally stopped by their landlords or agents from switching energy suppliers.
Research from uSwitch has shown that 3% of private tenants have been told they cannot switch because of restrictions on their rental contract, while 7% were expressly told by their landlord that they were not allowed to do so.
In fact, while a rental contract is allowed to stipulate that a tenant should ask a landlord before switching an energy supplier, permission cannot be refused.
According to uSwitch, just 38% of private tenants have switched to a cheaper supplier, whilst one third are unaware of their right to switch, and one third see no point in switching as they would not be living there long-term.
This, says uSwitch, is despite potential annual savings of up to £420.
Some tenants are concerned about approaching their landlord about switching, with 22% saying that landlords ‘don’t want to be bothered by tenants’.
This attitude seems to stretch to energy efficiency too – 26% wouldn’t talk to their landlord about energy efficiency because they don’t think their landlord would be interested, and one in ten private tenants wouldn’t feel comfortable raising it with their landlord.
More than four in ten private tenants say that the home they are currently living in has little or no energy efficiency measures installed.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said: “With more and more people renting, it’s vital that people don’t feel that being a tenant means relinquishing the right to control their household bills.
“The fact is that if your name is on the bill you have the right to shop around for a better energy deal.
“If your rental contract says otherwise, then talk to your landlord or letting agent – it is in both parties’ interests for rented homes to be on a cost-effective tariff and as energy-efficient as possible.
“Now is also a good time for private landlords to look at energy efficiency.
“Energy suppliers have a pot of money to spend on making their customers’ homes energy efficient and only have until the end of this year to spend it in order to hit government targets.
“As a result, there are now a huge number of offers for insulation, ranging from the free to the heavily subsidised. Taking advantage of these now would benefit both landlords and tenants, as a minimum outlay will see lower energy bills and a more attractive, rentable home.”
Current schemes available include:
Warm Front : Available across England only, Warm Front installs insulation and heating measures for people receiving certain disability or income-related benefits. The scheme is available for people who rent privately or own their own home.
Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT): The main energy suppliers (British Gas, E.ON, EDF Energy, RWE npower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy) are providing free or low-cost energy efficiency measures, commonly loft and cavity wall insulation. All properties in Great Britain are potentially eligible for help under CERT, although the most vulnerable people (for example the elderly or people on low incomes) are given priority. Both home owners and tenants can apply, although tenants must have their landlords’ approval for work to begin.
Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) : The main energy suppliers (British Gas, E.ON, EDF Energy, RWE npower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy) are providing free or low-cost energy efficiency measures, such as solid wall insulation, to homes in low income areas. Find out if your area is eligible by visiting http://tinyurl.com/9xw2ed3
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