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Can I be charged for changing utilities?

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Author Topic: Can I be charged for changing utilities?  (Read 148 times)
Newbie
Posts: 2

I like property

« on: July 04, 2020, 07:51:40 PM »

Hi all,
I've recently moved out of a property but I'm still waiting for my deposit.
My landlord has just contacted me to say I changed utility provider whilst living there (I did, to save money, as you do) and that I needed his permission for this which he did not give.
He wants to charge me 100 for changing - surely he cant do that?
I've went through the contract and it does state that he will fine you for changing, so obviously I should of read it better but the whole things seems like a massive  con to me- everyone shops around for the best deal and I cant see how changing it affects the landlord in any way.
Some advice would be great.
Sr. Member
Posts: 372

I like property

« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2020, 12:39:25 PM »

Quote
that I needed his permission

Nope. Not if you were the one paying the bill.

What does the clause say exactly?

When did you switch? When did the tenancy ends and the LL tell you there's a charge?
Newbie
Posts: 2

I like property

« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2020, 08:41:47 PM »

Quote
that I needed his permission

Nope. Not if you were the one paying the bill.

What does the clause say exactly?

When did you switch? When did the tenancy ends and the LL tell you there's a charge?


Yes I was the one paying it was in my name etc.
It literally says you're not allowed to change utility provider if you do I will charge 100 when you leave.

I switched as soon as i moved in a year ago.
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Posts: 3524

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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2020, 09:13:52 AM »

It's a good clause to have (exerts a level of control I find appealing)... but I do not think it's going to be enforceable. The old OFT had a view on this... they said - "The tenant should have the choice of supplier although he may be required to keep the landlord informed of any change and to return the account to the original supplier at the end of the tenancy." - so even though that ship has sailed for you, you could use it as ammunition, either directly with the Landlord, or by raising a Dispute with the Deposit Scheme.

But - yes - you have cottoned-on - you should read things you sign your name to. Even if you think you can wriggle out of it now (and I think you probably can) it's a learning experience and the hard part of me thinks that it should be an expensive one for you... as you had the agreement, you had the chance to read it, you didn't read it carefully enough and, yet, you still signed your name to it - and now, only at the end when it's come back to bite you, are you complaining... the time to complain about the (any) clause you didn't agree to was before signing - sadly, many people don't have the nerve... but, also, some people are just evidently feckless and blunder through life making mistake after mistake and crying out loudly when things go wrong. I don't know which type you are - I have some sympathy with you as the clause is quite naughty in its design.

I'd probably reply to the Landlord saying - "I have taken advice and this clause is not enforceable. Please return this portion of my Deposit, otherwise I'll be forced to raise a Dispute with the Deposit Scheme."
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 09:15:33 AM by Hippogriff »
Sr. Member
Posts: 372

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« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2020, 10:30:51 AM »

It literally says you're not allowed to change utility provider if you do I will charge 100 when you leave.

Ofgem have made it quite clear that a tenant who directly pays the bill has the right under consumer laws to choose their own supplier. Things are more complicated if there are a "default supplier" which the landlord have indicated in advance. That's a specific tie-in the landlord have with the supplier, not just because they don't want you to switch. You can also be required to return to original condition at end of tenancy.

Without the exact wording, and only going back your description above, I would say that there was an absolute prohibition without a qualifying default supplier clause, and it's an absolute prohibition rather than you must switch back at the end of tenancy. While a qualifying prohibition may be legal in which case there are requirement for the landlord not to without consent unreasonablely, an absolute prohibition is clearly not legal. An absolute prohibition clause should be void as a whole, in which case the 100 penalty would be void as well.

Give CAB and/or Shelter a call and tell them the exact wordings of the clause and see what they think.
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