My Tenant Left Without Paying Bills

One of my “problem” tenant’s vacated one of my properties after being evicted, but she left behind unpaid gas and electricity bills. The bills totaled to approximately £200. This particular tenant had already cost me money (eviction fees, the rent she failed to pay..etc), so there was no way I was going to part with more money because of her. Not only did she fail to pay the bills but she also failed to transfer the utility bills into her name when she moved into the property. I told her to do so, and she had assured me that she had done it.

If you’re also in a similar position where one of your tenants vacated your property leaving behind unpaid bills, then don’t worry, all is not lost.

I immediately phoned the company that was billing me, Powergen (now known as e-on), and explained the situation. They said that she never registered the account to her name and they were unaware that she was occupying the property.

They informed that if I could prove that she was actually occupying the property, I would no longer be liable for the bill and they would start chasing her for the balance. I faxed Powergen a copy of the tenancy agreement, proving that she was occupying the property, along with a cover letter. The fact the account was under my name during her occupancy wasn’t a big issue and didn’t stop justice from being prevailed.

This is the cover letter I sent them:

To Sir/Madam,

I received a gas and electricity bill for property [enter address]. However, I am the landlord and not the occupier. During the time the bill period accounted for, my DSS tenant ([tenant’s name]) was occupying the property. Unfortunately the tenant is no longer occupying the property, she vacated on the 21st of September (earlier than due).

With this letter I have attached the tenancy agreement, proving that she was occupying the property, and is liable for the bill. I’m not 100% certain where she is living now, but from what I understand she has moved back in with her father, who was also her guarantor. Here are her details, along with her unconfirmed address (her father’s address):

[tenant’s name],
[tenant’s address],
[tenant’s town],
[tenant’s county]
[tenant’s postcode]

In response to this address can you confirm that I am not liable for the gas and electricity bill by sending me a letter confirming so, to the address referenced at the top of the letter?

Your help is much appreciated.

Yours faithfully,

I didn’t have to give them her guarantor’s address but I didn’t want her to get away with it, so I eagerly handed over all the details of her whereabouts I had.

Extra notes

  • This is a reminder why written tenancy agreements are so important. I know many crazy landlords don’t bother getting a contract in place, it’s truly mind-boggling. With that kind of arrangement you definitely compromise security for your tenant and most importantly, yourself!
  • I’m not guaranteeing that all service providers operate under a similar policy, but i’m assuming most do, so as long as you can prove that your tenant is responsible for paying the bills and that your tenant was occupying the property during the period of the bill, you shouldn’t be liable for the bills.
  • Whenever you have a new tenant move in that is responsible for paying the utility bills, make sure you check that they register everything under their name. I made the mistake of not checking, but you can call up the service providers and check. Don’t trust your tenant!
  • This it’s always worth getting a tenant guarantor in place, so you always have a referral address. Most letting agencies get a guarantor as part as their package, but for independent landlords, it’s also worth doing. In this particular case, my tenant’s father was the guarantor, which meant I had an address I could forward to Powergen.
  • Always keep your tenancy agreements, even after your tenants have vacated your property. In times like these they can prove to be extremely useful.
  • In my letter I asked for a confirmation to confirm that I was no longer liable for the bill. Although that isn’t required, it might be worth doing just to cover your back. I did it just for ease of mind.

Has anyone else had similar problems with tenants leaving behind unpaid bills?

Like this post? Then maybe you should sign up to my FREE newsletter so you receive more like it!

32 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
d.fenton 31st January, 2010 @ 13:42

i went guarantor for my sons x through a letting agency she is on benefits who paid the rent direct to her, she faild to pay 2 months rent now the rent is paid in part to the letting agency £30 short which she fails to pay increasing arears. i have spent £300 on leagal advice, but the landlord rightly wants whats owed to him.she has been given 2 months notice to hand back the property.has anyone been in this nightmare situation and give me some peace of mind is there any light at the end of the tunnel so to speak

1
Guest Avatar
lisa 3rd February, 2010 @ 23:17

If you signed as a guarantor, any money owed by joint/tenants or property/financial damage to the landlord has to be your liability of the last resort. That is a commerical agreement. There is no limit of liability to a guarantor. You could be taken to small claim court for not paying it and get CCJ record on your credit rating i.e. you can not open new legitimate loans.

2
Guest Avatar
Bahar 28th March, 2010 @ 19:06

I rented out my flat on the 27/12/2009 but the tenant has lost his job and wants to return to his country on the 22nd of April 2010. As a landlord I am responsible for utility bills such as electricity, council tax, water and TV licence in the address. However he asked to have a phone line and broadband line which I did not provide, I agreed to this on the condition that he takes full responsibility for it and pays the invoice which he agreed to. He finally drew up a contract with sky for 18 months. But now that he is leaving I have asked him to settle any outstanding debt with the company and provide me with a proof that he has no outstanding debt with them. He has agreed to do this but only if I return to him his £500 deposit now as he does not have enough money to pay for the bills. When I explained this would not be possible and the deposit will be returned to him only when he leaves the flat he said he will not pay the bill.
I want to know if I am at any point responsible for this bill if he does not pay it and if so what actions can I take against him as he is leaving to go back to Turkey.
asked if I could return his deposit of £500

3
Guest Avatar
Jools 29th March, 2010 @ 13:55

If you did not sign the contract you are not responsible for the debt.

Tell him you will forward his deposit on to his home address (I hope you have secured it properly) and if Sky come a knocking give them the address so they can chase him in Turkey.

Jools

4
Guest Avatar
Bahar 29th March, 2010 @ 18:14

Thank you very much for your help Jools.

5
Guest Avatar
Vianca 22nd July, 2011 @ 12:40

Pin my tail and call me a dokeny, that really helped.

6
Guest Avatar
Henna 16th October, 2011 @ 19:11

Yes my scum bag tenants have done the same,they actually set up the utility bills in my name and then defaulted them and then set them up in fake names. I have done the same and sent the tenancy agreement to the the suppliers explaining what happened. I am also thinking of checking with the credit agreement agencies to see what else they have been taking out in my name.

7
Guest Avatar
Laura 20th July, 2012 @ 20:00

I received a letter from a credit company saying that there was an outstanding water bill on a flat I moved out of 3.5 years ago. It turned out that the period for which this applies was from the day AFTER I moved out. I had cleared the outstanding balance but the subsequent tenants didn't contact the utilities company so they reopened the account under my name despite my having vacated the property.

I've been asked to provide evidence to disprove my responsibility for the debt however I don't have tenancy agreements for this period(I moved a lot during this time and rented through Gumtree so didn't always have documentation for each property).

The landlord of the property has been unhelpful and only sends part of what I ask from him so I'm at the point of giving up. Would anyone be able to give me any advice on this? I've got documents with the names of the subsequent tenants and contact details for the landlord. Surely the utilities company could make contact with the landlord or do a search on the tenant who is responsible?

Many thanks!

8
Guest Avatar
Steph 30th August, 2012 @ 08:39

Hi,

I have this problem of not knowing whether I can live with someone and still work,apply for NHS etc... Right now im living in a student accomodation but I will soon have to vacate as the contract expires in 2weeks. If i move somewhere were the tenancy agreemenet is not set in my name, how can i show proof of address for bank accounts, job applications etc?

Thqnks so much.

9
Guest Avatar
Jeremy 30th August, 2012 @ 22:27

Hello Steph,

1 - Why would you want to live in a place where you were not on the rent agreement. This is foolhardy.
2 - Bt if you must, then what about getting your name on the utility bills?

Hope this helps.

10
Guest Avatar
Jamie heslop 28th November, 2012 @ 16:14

I signed Garantore for my uncles cafe which I also invested 4000 pound into after 7 month of not receiving any investment back I upped the pressure on him and asked for my things I bought out of the cafe which he's reply was if you think you can do better have the cafe sp I have done this !
Taken full reign of the cafe and after putting all bills and bank details in my own name have come across he owes 7 month arrears with rent which is 4800 pound !
Am I responsible to pay this as the letting agency did not inform me and still had no intentions until I approached them?

11
Guest Avatar
Jeremy 28th November, 2012 @ 21:00

Hello Jamie,

I'm sorry to say you probably are. Did you do "due diligance" when you took over? If you did and you approached the agency and they said it as up to date, you can rely upon this misrepresentation to say the debt is void. If you did not, you could be stuck. Also check the wording of your guarantor agreement: Is the agent legally obligated to inform you of rent arrears? If they have ommitted, you could rely upon this to say the debt is legally avoidable.

Please let us know how you get on.

12
Guest Avatar
Gail Fox 31st July, 2013 @ 20:11

I signed my lease in September last year and wrote to UTW to advise that I would be moving into the property in the October and I wanted the account for gas and electric moved to another supplier. On the 24 of June this year they removed my electricity meter stating that the previous occupier of the house had not paid and until I paid the bill I would not get my electricity re connected. The gas and electricity account I thought had be moved to the new supplier. UTW say that I owe them about £500 for what electricity I have used. I have agreed to pay but they wont send me a bill. I have made a complaint to the Ombudsman but still have no power. My health is not good and they are aware of that. UTW stands for UTILITY WAREHOUSE avoid them like the plague.

13
Guest Avatar
Marky Mark 14th October, 2013 @ 09:07

The frst thing any landlord should when a new tenant moves in is call their Electricity/Gas/etc and state a tenant is moving in and give their entry date. The companies will send out transfer forms and your responsibility/liability for paying will end then and there whatever happens! You'll also need to call back on entry day with readings etc. Never keep the bills in your name - it can be a disaster waiting to happen. Switch everything over to them - it's the safest route.

14
Guest Avatar
paula laydon 30th December, 2013 @ 06:03

As a landlord am i responsible if my tenant had a land line inter net sky tv etc and hasent canceled when he has left , and if i am how do i find out ?i have informed gas electric council tax and going to let water know . he has left without a forwarding address 1 month upaid rent and damage to property exceeding the deposit , the agent has said that the tenant agreed to release the deposit .

15
Guest Avatar
JBrennanfapplefan@ya 15th March, 2014 @ 07:33

I live in a multi occupancy household (3 people). We only pay landlord rent and tennancy agreement states tennants are responsible for bills. As I've been there longest, landlord put me down as lead tenant and I agreed (because we never had bill problems before) that it'd be fine to have bills on my name as eon, anglian water, sky need a name for credit check purposes. Another tennant in a contract Nov 2013 until June 2014 has decided to move out end of Feb 2014. Landlord was not happy, she didnt get a letter of ending notice from him him, just a text and kept his deposit to cover his rent for notice period in March until a new tenant is found. He told her and us in person and via text he will pay his share of bills up until his use at end of Feb. My other housemate and I have paid our shares and he still hasn't. The landlord sats it's "not her problem" and I'm being chased up by these companies. I really think the landlord should step in as her the contract states upon termination, all arrears should be brought up to date. This situation is causing me manh sleepless nights and I want to terminate my agreement early but I feel the landlord will not agree to it even if I fill my room. Where do I stand on this matter? Thanks for reading!

16
Guest Avatar
Mr marky mark 15th March, 2014 @ 08:04

Jb - I would say the landlords responsibility ends with the rent in your case, and they have taken measures to protect that, but it would be reasonable to ask for help as a deposit is also designed for this, especially if it's taken from each individual. Since it's not a joint tenancy and solely in your name, you have responsibility for the collection of bills from other tenants. Not an ideal situation if the tenants aren't known to you or you aren't part of the vetting process. This is something you should either change when renewing or make changes to help protect yourself from this risk - i.e. also take deposits or agree your portion from the landlords, take bill advances, or put specific bills in other peoples name to balance it out and share the risk.

17
Guest Avatar
Andrew 26th May, 2014 @ 06:13

My son lives in a house rented out to 8 university students. Unfortunately one or two of the students have not paid their share of the utilities bill, ie electric/gas. A letter has been received saying I believe that the balilifs are going to paying a visit. Can they cut the gas/ electric of, what about the rest of the tenants who have paid their share of the bill?

18
Guest Avatar
Mario 29th May, 2014 @ 21:37

Andrew,

1- if your sons name on the bill then he is liable to pay.
2- If the bill has all the names on it then all has responsibility and your son has to prove that he has paid his share.
3- if the bill is not in your sons name, then your son has to prove that he lives at that address and your son has paid his shares and direct the bailiff to the room of that person who has not paid the shares and the bailiff can only take valuable for that person not others. However it is all about to prove that you have paid shares for the bill. I hope this helps.

19
Guest Avatar
mercedes 1st October, 2014 @ 18:53

Hi I have a question, I am a tenant who has lived on property with other tenants who were not paying rent and my landlord wanted them gone. Our water got cut off and before the landlord had a chance to go pay it, the unhappy tenant who were going to be evicted cared less about anyone else and tampered with the water meter not only once but twice and the city put a lock on the meter and charged the account with 2 tampering fees and the bill is now 1300.00 and my landlord refuses to pay it.the non rent paying tenants just ditched out with no say or where they were going so now I am the only tenant living on the property and haven't had water for 2 months cause I cant pay 1300.00 and my landlord could care less about the water being on cause he doesn't really want the property anymore but he is still allowing us to live on it. How can I go about with getting the water on without having to pay 1300.00 out of !y pocket in which I am not responsible for? Can I get the water on in my name instead and the landlord be responsible for that bill

20
Guest Avatar
Barbara 7th October, 2014 @ 02:07

I have a nennant in my rental now , he paid his deposit to turn on water but then has run up a 1200 water bill with water supply co and hasn't paid so they shut off his water and said if he moves out now I will be responsible for it he has since turned it on himself so what the heck I'm going to have to pay major out my butt if he never pays it ? Don't seem like they can do that to me , but who knows its a small town

21
Guest Avatar
tony 9th October, 2014 @ 16:15

i have just had a tenant leave my house and in doing so she owed me 3 months rent, destroyed the house, left the bills unpaid and stole good from the house. i will never do it again and as for the law, it stinks. she broke the rule by not paying the rent and took money from the DHSS for housing benifit and didnt use it for rent, the same people (DHSS) protected her and told her how to not pay me and stay in the house till she found another mug to steal off. love to put her name up here.. lieing scum she is.

22
Guest Avatar
VASEEM 9th December, 2014 @ 12:44

I had a property on rent since 2009, when letting out this property i gave a copy of the tenancy agreement to the council with a covering letter. In the letter and the tenancy agreement it clearly stated that the tenant has been informed that he/she will be responsible for all utility bills inc council tax.

The tenant paid the gas & electric because they were on prepayment meters but failed to pay council tax 2009-2014, The council have now back into their records and now chasing myself for my tenants arrears which is over 5k, my questions are

1, Can the council do this ?
2, Why didn't the council chase this earlier?
3, Will the debt be written off if i have no forwarding address or do i still need to
pay ?

23
Guest Avatar
Davie Orr 13th May, 2015 @ 21:20

Hi guys, I had a tenant who put the gas and electricity in his name, and has not paid the final bill. Now there is a debt recovery agency looking for him.Will I have to pay his debt or will he be the one that has to pay it? He is an "ex" friend, and I know where he works, should I inform the debt recovery agents where he works.

24
Guest Avatar
Rashda Khan 13th May, 2015 @ 22:49

To Davie Orr,

If the bills were in your tenants name then you don't have to settle them. You can give the forwarding address to the utility companies. My tenant switched all the bills to my name even though I had written to the utility companies about the change of name I still didn't have to pay because the error was on their part.

25
Guest Avatar
Dheeraj 29th September, 2015 @ 17:59

My tenants have not settled the electricity bill which comes out to be £900 (Whole one year they have not paid). They are now asking for deposit and they are saying that they will settle the bills with that deposit money. I have two options now
1) I release the deposit and hope that they pay the bill
2) I inform them that either you pay the bill and i will release the deposit or I myself will settle the account with deposit money if they do not pay within two weeks?

Which option is best?

26
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 29th September, 2015 @ 20:38

@Dheeraj

Whether they pay the bill or not has no reflection on you. For example, if you give the deposit back and they don't pay the bill, the service provider won't go after you or the property, they will chase your tenant (assuming the account is definitely under their name).

In my opinion, you actually have no reason to hold the deposit. I don't even think you have rights to hold it under the circumstances, purely because the outstanding bill has nothing to do with you.

What you could do is talk to the deposit scheme and see what they say, just for ease of mind. You could also get confirmation from your service provider that your tenants are 100% liable for the bill (but I wouldn't mention the deposit).

27
Guest Avatar
Dheeraj 30th September, 2015 @ 09:29

Thanks for the advice but one of the agents advised me that service provider can blacklist the house as they become unsure about the tenants of that house. Is that correct?

28
Guest Avatar
Mark 3rd October, 2015 @ 06:54

If the bill is in your name (bad practice) then do the 2nd (without the wait) and state that reason on release of deposit for deduction (no reason tennants can dispute it), if not 1st because they are liable and it doesnt affect you. At the end of the day can you really trust them to pay if they havent up until now? I wouldnt.

You cant really worry about blacklisting as a landlord, but it can be undone if it happens. Money first.

29
Guest Avatar
Matt 2nd December, 2016 @ 22:42

I'm currently a tenant and have a prepaid meter that was already installed when I moved into the property. Unbeknownst to me I have been paying off the previous tenants arrears. The utility bill is in the landlords name so should they be responsible for the previous debt on the account. I feel it is very unfair that it has been laid at my feet

30
Guest Avatar
Ashley 10th December, 2016 @ 15:48

Hi,
I had bought a property and it was empty for 2 years and until than it was unoccupied and completely empty.Eon was electricity provider.
Now it is rented out. The electricity bill has been changed and registered with new tenant.
However I have now recieved a letter from payment recovery for outstanding debt of £1695/- for 2 years. I cannot believe when no one has live in tht property for that long.
I wanted to find out if I have to pay this bill as I wont be paying at all if I havent lived.
Request if someone can find me a solution to give a reason to get away

31
Guest Avatar
Istvan 20th March, 2017 @ 15:09

Hi. I am a tenant. The gas and electricity is on my name. But i share the house. The other tenant left the property whiteout paying hes bill, £200 . My landlord released the deposit because he didn't know the tenants still have outstanding payment. After the deposit get released, the landlord can he still hold till the bills get payed out? or is to late? how can i get payed the bills from them.

32

Please leave a comment...

Nobody

Nobody

Landlord

Landlord

Tenant

Tenant

Agent

Agent

Legal

Legal

Buyer

Buyer

Developer

Developer

Enthusiast

Enthusiast