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Ask Jo C. Your Own Question
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71057
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I am a landlord and my property is let by a management company.

Customer Question

I am a landlord and my property is let by a management company. On 18/6/2013 tenants left. I was in possession until 19/7/2013 while I redecorated. I then changed letting agents. The gas and electric metre readings were read at the appropriate times by the letting agents. It is agreed in the letting agreements that tenants are responsible for gas and electric. The power is supplied by Scottish Power. During the time I was responsible ie 6 weeks, I used 1 unit of electric and 47 units of gas. I keep getting bills for increasing amounts of money for gas and electric. I have phoned scottish Power on numerous occasions to explain and they have said they would sort it out and to ignore any further threatening letters. I have now received, by registered post, letters telling me that on 23rd June Richburns debt collectors will be going to court to obtain an order to change my locks and fit pay metres which will be high in order to gain back the money owed, This is now in excess of £1000. My agents say it is up to the tenants to tell the suppliers their name etc. I am getting no where with this. I 'phoned scottish power again on Saturday and they said they would raise a customer complaint, but I have no faith in them.
This is causing me great stress as I am just recovering from Cancer and the rental income is my only income. What can I do?

I have the tenancy agreements and gas/electric readings etc.

Thank you.

Celia Andrews
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Are you asking if you are liable?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No. I am only liable for the 6 weeks the property was vacant when I used 1 unit of electricity and 47 units of gas

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok. What did you want to know about this please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Why are the nergy suppliers coming after me and not the tenants

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Well, I would imagine because they can find you and not the tenants.

They will always go after the easy target that looks more solvent.

Whether or not you would be liable in court is another matter.

However, if they propose fitting a metre to the property then that would not affect you per se.

They often do seek orders to fit prepaid meters when there is a debt on the property. If you do not want a metre then you need to attend court and explain that you are not liable person and, in any event, you do not live there.

As a general rule courts will allow a prepaid meter unless of course they take the view that the liable person no longer lives there.

The truth is that however brilliantly you argue with them they are not likely to agree with you and you may have to go to court.

You can also complain to the ombudsman about this.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

They have the names of the previous tenants and the tenants after my 6 weeks. Surely it is obvious that the people who use the power are liable. I do not want future tenants to pay falsely high amounts to cover the bills unpaid by previous tenants. Shouldn't my management agencies be dealing with this - it is what I pay them for.


How do I get in touch with the ombudsman?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
It depends upon the nature of the contract. But if this is a standard AST then normally the tenants would be liable.

But clearly here they don't accept that and there are no magic wands that will turn an unreasonable debt collector into a reasonable one.

The question anyway is whether they will win in court rather than whether you can convince them.

You can contact the energy ombudsman here
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This seems grossly unfair as even Scottish Power agree I am not liable. It is all in the contracts that the tenants are liable.

You didn't answer my question about my management agencies.


Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I can't see a question about management company?

I am happy to continue with this but please remember to leave feedback for my answer
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It is a couple of questions up at the bottom of the paragraph


Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Im sorry but I can't see a question relating to the agents there?

I will opt for you as I presume you are displeased with my answer?