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Manifesto urges agents to allow tenants to switch energy firms

The energy price comparison website recently acquired by Zoopla, uSwitch, is urging letting agents and landlords to do more to allow tenants to switch to lower cost utility suppliers.

uSwitch has launched 'Renters: A Right To Switch', a manifesto with two demands aimed directly at letting agents.

One urges agents "to cease the use of unfair clauses in tenancy agreements which state that tenants cannot switch supplier" while the other wants agents "to inform tenants at the start of each tenancy about how to switch along with details of where to find and access their energy meters."

The manifesto also says there is substantial confusion amongst tenants as to their rights regarding switching utility suppliers, despite guidance by energy regulator Ofgem that tenants who are responsible for paying for their energy should be able to switch supplier easily and fairly, and that letting agents and landlords cannot unreasonably prevent them from doing so.

A uSwitch survey says that some 13 per cent of landlords or agents acting on their behalf admit denying private tenants their right to switch energy supplier, while 19 per cent of landlords with three or more properties have prevented a tenant from switching.

Over a third of landlords incorrectly believe naming a ‘preferred supplier’ in rental agreements means they can stop renters switching, while some 230,000 private tenants who haven’t switched say it was because their tenancy agreement prohibits it - when in reality this may not be the case.

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