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Utilities charges [not] explicitly mentioned in tenancy agreement, I won't pay

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« on: July 08, 2020, 04:12:45 PM »

Hi all

I'm coming to the end of my tenancy at my current flat, which along with the normal electricity and water supplies also has a separate communal heating and hot water system.  The charges for usage are apparently paid annually, and the letting agent is now trying to pass on the charge for my usage during the tenancy.

On the face of it that is entirely reasonable, but my problem is that the communal heating / hot water system, and the charges that go along with it, were never mentioned to me at any stage by the agent.  It is not mentioned in the tenancy agreement - it explicitly says I am liable for "all charges in respect of gas, water and electricity consumed on the Premises" but does not mention the heating/hot water system, or provide the name of the supplier.  It was also not mentioned in the property advert, during the viewing, or during my correspondence with the agent.

Do you think I would be within my rights to refuse to pay for the heating/hot water charges, given they are not mentioned in the tenancy agreement, and weren't mentioned at any other point by the agent?
« Last Edit: July 09, 2020, 09:02:21 AM by Hippogriff »
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2020, 05:25:30 PM »

"it explicitly says I am liable for "all charges in respect of gas, water and electricity consumed on the Premises""

How is the heating powered and how is the hot water heated? One would assume it's either via gas, or electricity? I mean... other options exist, but I'm making a wild guess it's either gas or electricity. In the absence of specificity maybe you can use common sense... if the utilities were free you can be sure they'd be making a BIG DEAL out of it in the advert, right? It's normal to expect to pay.

If your correspondence with the Agent was to do with parking and suchlike, then it's hardly likely they'd mention anything about your liability for utilities.

However, if you had specifically asked them "so, am I liable for the utilities, or do I get them for free?" and it wasn't clarified for you, then maybe you have more of a point.
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2020, 09:38:37 PM »

Hi Hippogriff

Thanks for replying. On the questions you've asked:

How is the heating powered and how is the hot water heated? One would assume it's either via gas, or electricity?


I assume it's electric, but it's a communal system with separate metering, so however it's powered the usage isn't recorded on the electricity meter in my flat.  So even if I knew it existed I had no way of knowing how much I had used.

If your correspondence with the Agent was to do with parking and suchlike, then it's hardly likely they'd mention anything about your liability for utilities.

My correspondence was about utilities, though not directly the communal system (again, I didn't know it existed).  The tenancy agreement listed the same supplier for electricity and gas, but when I contacted that supplier they said they didn't supply the gas, so I was querying that with the agent.  It eventually turned out there isn't a gas supplier at all, which left me with the impression everything was electric.  In hindsight I could have specifically asked, but I had no particular reason to suspect differently.


So from my perspective it feels like between not knowing the system existed, and not having a way of monitoring usage even if I had known, it doesn't feel reasonable to then lump me with the bill at the end of my tenancy. 
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2020, 09:01:13 AM »

So from my perspective it feels like between not knowing the system existed, and not having a way of monitoring usage even if I had known, it doesn't feel reasonable to then lump me with the bill at the end of my tenancy.

An interesting perspective. How you get from not knowing a "system" existed (but by default people expect to pay their bills) and not being able to monitor usage to "I'm not liable for these bills" is not a perspective I agree with. What were you doing about this for the duration of the tenancy? Spending the money you had set aside for your bills on other stuff? Honestly, it always feels like people these days have forgotten about the pretty basic morals of a situation and just that "if I'm not going to be spoon-fed every little thing in my existence I'll use small-print and legalities to avoid my moral obligations"... let's just say - the utilities will need paying... by someone... who should it be if not you (the consumer)?

What you are saying is there was some doubt - a grey area - you didn't have all the information... but, yet, you didn't seem bothered to chase this down and find out what you needed to know - you put your head in the sand and hoped it wouldn't come back to bite you. It has come back to bite you... and now this interesting position you are in has 50-50 fault... I absolutely agree all the information should have been given to you - fair point - but when it wasn't I also think you should've chased it down and not just assumed - "hey, free utilities!"... why? Because that's at best incredibly na´ve, but more likely artfully disingenuous. It's easy to think - "the Agent / Landlord is obviously not on the ball here, if I just keep quiet about this then I might get away without paying anything... muhahaha!"... you're so transparent.

Did you tent your fingers when coming up with this plan?
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