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theenergyman
27-11-2010, 10:49 AM
My very elderly father has given me this problem to solve.
He rents out A flat in his house and has done so for over 50 years.

Eon have employed a debt recovery agent to recover from him, as the property owner, a tennants unpaid electricity bill.

The tennant has his own meter and agreement with the power companie, ARE THE POWER COMPANIES ABLE TO HOLD THE PROPERTY OWNER LIABLE FOR TENNANTS BAD DEBTS?

Any help or advice would be appreciated as I am not a landlord

Interlaken
27-11-2010, 11:24 AM
The answer is no but very distressing for your elderly father. Speak to Debt collector show him AST - they are usually quite sensible people

I have had a few run ins with Eon lately and S. Electric over tenants wanting to change supplier and lies from them on oversestimated bills. Generally it strikes me that they are sooo desperate for money and business that they are trying anything to get cash out of any unsuspecting person.

Have you had communication with Eon before it got to this stage? I would go back to them and try to speak to a senior person outlining the problem. The kids that answer the phones are poorly trained and believe everything they are told by their equally untrained supervisors on landlord/tenant issues. Try to get the name and position of the person you speak to - these senior types have direct dial numbers.

Recently I have had to email/fax the tenancy agreement to Eon to prove a contract - by doing this you should be able to solve the problem. I have also been told by S. Electric that the landlord cannot tell the tenant which supplier to use - rubbish.

theenergyman
27-11-2010, 11:38 AM
Thanks for your help, presumably an AST is the tenancy agreement. I would have been suprised if they could hold the landlord responsible for the debt, but all sorts of unreasonable things happen now.

theartfullodger
27-11-2010, 11:49 AM
I have also been told by S. Electric that the landlord cannot tell the tenant which supplier to use - rubbish.


I hesitate to defend Mssrs S Electric having had huge probs with them, to such a degree that if I now complain I'm dealt with by a tame handler in the Chief exec's office but in that particular they are/are not right...

Yes of course you can tell T which supplier to use. You can also tell T that he may only give notice whilst wearing a Top Hat, standing on one leg & giving 2-months notice - but both conditions would be unenforceable... see
http://www.oft.gov.uk/OFTwork/publications/publication-categories/guidance/unfair-terms-consumer/oft356

P64


Table 4.2: Examples of potentially unreasonable prohibitions

Against changing the phone or utility
supplier.

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.


Greater minds than mine may point out this is only guidance, however were the T to change supplier but do as described above , you to subsequently take legal action because of it I suspect Mr Judge would laugh you out-of-court.

Cheers!

Artful

Interlaken
27-11-2010, 12:07 PM
Energy man - yes AST is the tenancy agreement.

Artful - I didn't phrase that too well - of course I don't insist T uses supplier I say. I just ask T to inform me before leaving what they have changed to.

In the case I am refering to T changed supplier unwittingly even before signing contract with me. When he was getting final bill at old property (all electric) S Electric person asked -' would you like us to supply you at your new property' . Tenant said yes and S. Electric hijacked supply, falsified a reading by 100 units and said it had actually been read at the meter by a proper person. All lies and all without consulting me - I was paying the bill as property had been undergoing a serious re-furb. Luckily I keep all meter readings in my daybook - I'm a bit of an anorak about that sort of thing.

Tenant decided to stay with original supplier of Eon at my prop which has gas and electric and I have had to fight S. Electric off - they are arguing that T entered into verbal contract and that there is only a 7 day cooling off period. They seem to write their own law. They tell me it will take 6-8 weeks to change! Ourtrageous but I am doing it. Tenant, an elderly gent is v. upset and asks the question we must all ask from time to time - why did things have to change to all these companies.

theartfullodger
27-11-2010, 12:22 PM
Cheers IL!

Can't say I'm surprised at your stories of S Elect - well my experiences are of Scottish Hydro, same group. It wasn't like that in the old nationalised days eh!!

Best regards, apologies for any unintended criticism...

Artful

Solent Watcher
27-11-2010, 12:34 PM
As with others here have clashed with suppliers!

Trying to get to the key points. If not already done suggest have your father sign a letter giving you formal third party authority to deal with the supplier. Send it RDS including a direction that all communication is to be in writing to your address. Also in letter invite them to provide "written evidience" of a contract of supply with your father.

Then, again by letter RDS, tell supplier to fly his kite becuase he is wholly wrong and if they continue to harass by phone (which they will becuase their operators have performance targets to meet) write to them, as we did, and use the Administration of Justice Act ( you will need to check the section) to warn them about harassment.

Suggest most strongly do not waste your time on the phone!!


Moving on:

The "debt" has been sold to a collecting agency and the way we dealt with them was invite them to produce real written evidence that there was a contract of supply in this case in your father`s name. Debt Agency never check the facts merely a supplier says x owes y and they go on that. We used the same tactic about harassment and also pointed them to their Industry Code. The critical thing was that we stated that their was not debt (not ours anyway) unless they could produce evidence to the contrary.

In our case where several thousand pounds were involved in a T /Supplier dispute the problem went away.Supplier in this case was BG.

In passing; Readers might wish to be away that BG has two divisions (Business and Domestic) and THEY DO NOT have a common data base. In our case a Business account had been set up on a Domestic property (which was not a business) pre occupancy by T. Thus communications about change of T were sent to what we now know to be domestic who of course threw it in the bin because the account was with Business!

In summary deal with the bully boys in the appropiate fashion!!

westminster
27-11-2010, 12:59 PM
He rents out A flat in his house and has done so for over 50 years.
Is the property in England/Wales?
Does your father live in the same house as the rental flat? If so, do they share facilities?
What type of tenancy does the tenant have?

theartfullodger
27-11-2010, 13:18 PM
Re SW's comment on Admin of Justice the relevant bit is
Administration of Justice Act 1970
, s40, ref harassment of debtors
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1970/31/section/40

neilm
27-11-2010, 14:38 PM
In addition to providing the ast to the utility company, do you have any other written information, did the tenant give you a months notice in writing, any other paperwork that proves the tenant moved out on a particular date. This should also help in this case. From my experience deal with the utility company not the debt company.The utiility companies which i use on a property where the tenant was on a meter and left a debt- they just cancelled the debt n and refunded me the monies which i put onto the meter after the tenant left! - british gas and npower.
In future and this goes for anybody else, if the tenant gives notice -get it in writing in if it means you write the letter and the tenants signs it so be it - it will save you less hassle. On tenant of mine informed the utility company that they moved out 6 months before they actually did, but because i got them to sign a letter when they gave me a months notice - i had no problem from the utility company

neilm