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:
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):
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.
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.
- This is a reminder why written tenancy agreements are so important. I know many
crazylandlords 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?
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger, I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any advice I give is my opinion based on my experience, and is never legal or professional advice. You should always get professional advice on any legal and financial matters!