Tenants' energy bills: Five things you need to know about moving gas and electricity supplier

There are massive savings to be made, but many tenants are being barred from switching by their landlords

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Is there a problem with them?

There sure is. There are massive savings to be made by moving gas and electricity supplier, but many tenants are being barred from doing so.

Who's barring them?

Landlords are denying tenants the right to switch energy supplier, costing them up to £339 a year. Research by the comparison site uSwitch.com revealed that 13 per cent of landlords admit denying private tenants their right to change energy supplier. Meanwhile 19 per cent of landlords with three or more properties have prevented a tenant from switching.

Are they just being unscrupulous?

Confusion is a big part of the problem. Around 36 per cent of landlords wrongly believe that naming a “preferred supplier” in rental agreements means they can stop renters switching. Some renters, too, are confused about their rights – with 5 per cent saying they haven't switched energy provider because their tenancy agreement prohibits it. However, some landlords also cite a high turnover of tenants and even late rental payments as excuses to stop the renters changing energy company.

So what are the rules?

Energy watchdog Ofgem states that renters who are responsible for paying their energy bills are allowed to switch supplier, and that landlords and letting agents cannot unreasonably prevent them from doing so. Meanwhile, though a “preferred supplier” clause can be used in rental agreements, tenants are under no obligation to use the named provider.

What can be done about the problem?

To help renters reduce sky-high energy bills, uSwitch is seeking a number of reforms. Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at the site, said: “We are calling for an urgent review of misleading terms in tenancy agreements, better training for landlords and more information for tenants about their rights. Energy switching should not be out of reach for the people who need it the most.”

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