Transferring Utility Services When New Tenants Move In


New Tenant utility bill transfer

I’m guilty. Guilty of being a negligent douche-bag. This time.

Needless to say, I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did when it comes to transferring utility services (e.g. gas, electricity, water, internet etc.) over to a new tenant when they move in, so here’s my recommendation of how to manage the process, to ensure there aren’t any mishaps…

Whose responsibility is it to transfer utility bills for new tenancies, landlords or tenants?

If you’re a landlord that is responsible for paying the utility bills directly because, for example, they’re included with the rent, which is common with in HMOs, then obviously transferring utility services isn’t necessary. Nothing needs to be done when new tenants move in or out, because you’ll always be the account holder.

However, in most cases, especially in single-let circumstances, utility services are generally managed and paid by the tenant directly. So ultimately, it should be their responsibility to get in touch with all the relevant service suppliers and update their records, as soon as they move in, to register as the new account holder. However, it’s often not the most practical solution, and I’ll explain why shortly.

The utilities that typically need managing and transferring in a rental

  • Water- you may need appropriate meter readings
  • Gas & electricity- you’ll need appropriate meter readings
  • Council Tax
  • Telecommunication services (landline, broadband etc)
  • TV services & subscriptions (e.g. Sky Digital)

IMPORTANT: don’t completely rely on tenants to manage transfers!

This is how I got caught out once, so a word of warning.

I strongly encourage all landlords to avoid parting with complete faith in their tenants when it comes to handling the administration of utility services.

I’ve trusted tenants in the past to administer the task, and to be honest, most of the times it has worked out fine. However, I did recently get caught out, and I suspect I wasn’t the first landlord and I certainly won’t be the last, to get caught out in a similar way! In hindsight, it’s apparent that it’s best practise not to rely on tenants to manage utility services entirely.

After any new tenants move in, I usually contact them a day or so after, to check everything is ok, and if they have any questions. The usual stuff. I also specifically ask if they have contacted all the utility suppliers to up date their records (I provide them with all the details of the current suppliers during move in day).

My tenant assured me he had made all the necessary arrangements and everything had been migrated to his name.

Long story short, the shit-for-brains lied to me, and I ended up getting lumbered with a council tax bill and a £150 gas and electricity bill under my name.

I don’t know if my tenant intentionally stitched me up or not. Fortunately, after providing proof to the local council and the energy supplier that the property was occupied by my tenant, the liability for the outstanding debt was transferred back over to my tenant. TAKE THAT, ASSHOLE!

It was all unnecessary hassle, and I can easily see how it could have easily blow up in my face. It’s better to eliminate these issues from the offset.

From this day forward, even if my new tenants assure me they have transferred all the services – I will refuse to believe them. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business!

I make sure I personally contact all the utility providers and double check that everything has been registered to the new tenants!

I advise all landlords to do the same. Don’t be a fool, don’t trust your tenants :)

When double-checking that all utility services have been registered with the new tenants, make sure you also double-check that the correct meter readings were provided.

What if there is a vacant period before my new tenants move in?

Common scenario, and it’s happened to me on many occasions. These are the steps I take, and I’m guessing its how most would presume it goes:

  1. On the day my old tenants are due to vacate, we take any necessary meter readings together. I also take pictures for proof.
  2. I transfer all utility services over to my name on the same day (or the following day).
  3. During the interim, I usually have to do some light maintenance e.g. painting, cleaning, touching up etc. This usually consumes electric and water.
  4. On the day the new tenants are due to move in, I take any necessary meter readings with them. Again, I take photos for proof.
  5. I provide the new tenants with details of the energy suppliers, but in this instance, I advise them that I will contact all the service providers and notify them that their are new occupants.

Can my tenant change utility service providers?

Generally speaking, and in most cases, yes, tenants are entitled to change utility service providers if they’re responsible for paying the bills directly. It’s quite common practise in order to achieve the best energy rates. In fact, since the introduction of energy auto-switch service providers (which help consumers automatically benefit from on the most competitive energy tariffs), it’s not unusual for tenants to change providers multiple times during a single tenancy.

Here’s a more detailed guide on tenants switching energy suppliers.

Obviously the logistics of switching utility service providers isn’t prone to the issue I got caught out by, because the tenant will need to manage this directly, so they’ll automatically provide their own details, so landlords won’t need to double-check.

25 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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shrona mc aulay 21st January, 2009 @ 19:43

Having a landlord with such a shit attitude like yours is probably the reason you get dodgy tenents. Tenents are doing you a service just as much as you are doing them a service. I treat ma tenents with the resoect they deserve and have never had any problems!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 21st January, 2009 @ 23:21

I'm a good landlord.

You sound extremely naive. I've had good and bad tenants. There are some people out there that will walk all over you, regardless of how nice you treat them.

Kind regards

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Dr Nogood 27th November, 2009 @ 00:36

Agreed Shroma.

If I had someone treating me like a child, wiping my arse and contacting the council and utility companies I would want to flay them. I now have a very honed "shitlandlordometer" and I am afraid The Landlord that this article has increased your score some.

It is naive to suggest that Shrona is naive...she is just a human with some dignity. My naivity may show through here...if the tenant has signed an agreement with you...why the hell were you liable for anything while they legally occupied your gaff? I am genuinely interested in that. Why didn't you take the fuckers to court...or tell the council and utility companies to go and fuck themselves since you surely cannot be liable for these costs.

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Estate agent 18th April, 2010 @ 09:52

I agree fully, dont listen to these other people.
tenants will screw you over if given the chance.

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virtualfi 27th July, 2010 @ 17:55

Tenants don't do anything unless you remind them. I know I have had 15 years of handholding them. They are just spoiled and useless. Its the age - they are usually in their twenties or thirties and can't buy yet, they have just left uni or home and they are not yet fully grown up yet. I as a landlord have to be their new mommy and I did not have an attitude when I started this, I trusted everyone to be a grown up but I have learned different. Landlord I agree with everything you say - don't trust them to do anything, or you will be the one left with bills, mess, their old crap they leave behind and their constant moaning. Any advice on phones - my tenants have left and can't find one old bill so do not know who they are with, it was BT when they moved in 5 years ago. Any way of checking?

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Dr Nogood 28th July, 2010 @ 22:22

What a nob end Virtualfi is. You SOUND like someone who has been living off your tenants, sorry, 'dealing' with tenants and handholding them for 15 years. Your attitude sums up the type of tenants you will attract (fuck wits). I had some dumb bastard tell me he had been a landlord for 10 years and doesn't provide white goods because 'tenants break them'. I put the phone down on that cunt and got myself a real landlord. Guess how many white goods I have broken in nine years! That's right! Fewer than you I am guessing!

I have been a tenant for 9 years and guess what! I don't want CCJ's against my name or a shit credit rating. And that means sorting out ALL utilities, telephone, internet and any other service provider out there. If my landlord tried to interfere I would shove a rocket up his or her arse (except my current one who is lovely).

As for leaving stuff in the place, that's what deposits and dustbins are for (I am sure you have charged through the nose for cleaning up crumbs from a kitchen surface, so I guess you can just bin all of their stuff and charge them a £100 fee for the 10 hours it took one of your hairy mates).

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virtualfi 29th July, 2010 @ 17:49

Dr nogood, For your information I don't charge for that. I am entitled to put my side to the picture as I have had plenty of grief from spoilt strangers who treat me like their concierge. In fact that's a good idea I will start charging them. And my last tenannts broke the taps, the washing machine door, the window frame, and they are not the acception they are the norm. You must be some kind of saint sent from heaven. I am putting a clause in the next agreement that they can't change the utilities because they have and now its more unpaid work for me while they go on to crap on someone else! I hope I get asked for a reference - that will be good.

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Dr Nogood 31st July, 2010 @ 01:26

Unpaid work? What planet do you live on? Rent is payment for the house AND for your maintenance services. Have a read up on the landlord's responsibilities? Tenants aren't there to pay your mortgage...they are your customers. Also clauses like the one you mentioned are in no way defensible in a court. The judge will just laugh at you and then fine you for wasting his time. Just because something is in the contract doesn't make it enforceable.

How do you know they aren't the exception? How do you know they are the norm? What possible evidence do you have to back up your claim? It is this kind of baseless slur that makes people hate your ilk: landlords/ladies with an entitlement complex who think tenants exist to pay rent and shut up. Nobody forced you to rent out a property.

And no. I am not a saint. I just have respect for my landlord's property and they have respect for me as a tenant. Try it. It works wonders.

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virtualfi 17th August, 2010 @ 22:08

Landlords responsibilities are clear. They are clearly in the STA.
None of the things I mentioned ARE landlord responsibilities are they?? You are very rude. I have every right to state my problem with my tenants here without your rudeness it is quite uncalled for.

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Twattybollocks 18th August, 2010 @ 12:01

So that told you Dr Nogood!!

TB

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Anonymous 28th June, 2011 @ 18:25

Dr. Nogood is an espouser of vandalism since he believes that broken windows and appliances should always be fixed by the landlord regardless of who did the damage. Since he doesn't give a damn about other's property, he shouldn't expect the same for his own.

Also, rent is income, which can be used to pay off debts like mortgages, which pays off the house. DUH.

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Kitty 29th January, 2013 @ 16:03

So I was due to move in to a new property, no money or keys were exchanged & no tenancy agreement was signed. The move got cancelled due to a flood but I had already changed the electric/gas over to my name from the expected move date.
Now my landlord/letting agents say I'm responsible for paying for these bills? I am not living there, never was & if they carry on being unreasonable I never will be.
Why am I responsible? I have tried to change my details back but it has proved difficult.
I was being a good & organised tennant. Why am I now being penalised?

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newbie landlord 8th April, 2013 @ 12:37

AARGH - if only I'd found your site before. Thought I'd researched brilliantly, even went to a landlords & lettings show, and generally made myself a nuisance with my selected lettings agent.
However, no-one told me that the utility companies can royally muck up and that the tenants will keep quiet that they have NEVER had a bill in a year because they didn't give their details, despite me giving the closing meter readings.
The DPS still have their deposit, so I'm hoping that I will recover the money from that via the dispute procedure, especially as not setting up the accounts and not paying the bill are in breach of the terms of their AST.
You've been bookmarked now and I won't take a single step more without checking in with you!
Thanks for sharing!

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seabass106 26th May, 2014 @ 05:02

I've been renting my property for over 8 years and generally have had decent tenants, I've done everything by the book and always fixed anything needed doing. At the end of the day I've found that tenants don't give a damm about your property especially students. I've just sold up as fed up with all the crap that comes along with it, the latest was the girls in my flat sub letting a room which meant that my property was liable for HMO, the council weren't interested in seeing my lease and threatened me with prosecution and they sided with the tenants. I then had to go through the NTQ process to get them to leave which thankfully went smoothly but low and behold I've got a letter from a debt collection company as there is an unpaid gas bill of £520. Easier to go after the registered landlord than the"off the radar tenant"

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DH1 4th January, 2015 @ 11:58

Dr Nogood - looks like you're in the minority!
Sad to say but in my experience the worst tenants are english. The odd good one. No dss tenant is EVER good though - never again for me. I thought about giving people chances but I might as well crouch down below their backside and wait for the inevitable to happen. But, what goes around comes around...now we have an influx of immigrants I never need to touch those wasters again. The europeans have a different outlook/work ethic/respect - call it what you will.
Actually I should probably clarify the comment on english tenants - it's usually the thick ones who are a nightmare!

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Kitty 4th January, 2015 @ 12:59

My issue was sorted, I didn't have to pay anything as I could prove I wasn't living there (thank fully). It's a real shame to hear that so many people have issues with tennants.
To try & reassure you a bit there are some nice British professionals out there that prefer to rent. I for one treat my property as if it were my own & take care of it. I would not stitch up the letting agents or owner.
One thing I would add is that letting agents can be arseholes too! I had to add an additional 30 page inventory with my own photos (taken as soon as I got the keys) as the inventory list I got that I was supposed to sign was very poor and from about 10 years ago!!
Do your checks & get good references!

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Sophie 28th April, 2015 @ 23:01

How do I do a meter reading for water if there isn't one there ? And would I be left with a previous tennats standerd electricity meter bill and last but least will I get a letter for electric come through soon in my name so I can check its ok ?

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Bel 11th June, 2015 @ 10:59

Have just found out that the house I am to rent has a key Meyer !have never had one before as a tenant the landlord says it is up to me to change it,now have found out that I will have to pay to change metres + be credit checked.Am a 70yr person should the landlord get it changed before I move in? Please can someone help with advice.Thanks

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B J 21st August, 2015 @ 12:19

My tenants are vacating soon and are refusing to give the names of their gas and electricity suppliers.
I'm slightly concerned about this, because, I would like to take meter readings when the tenants have left and verify myself with the utility companies that the tenants have given the correct readings.

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Nothing 1st September, 2015 @ 16:16

- B J -

You can use the following numbers to find out who the gas and electric suppliers are.

Electric - 08456 015 972
Gas - 08706 081 524

Hope this helps.

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Blueshine98 4th September, 2015 @ 22:43

I have had no problems with my property the only thing is a gas company got in in touch and I have to apparently have to pay the gas company when my property is empty how do u work that out is this correct or are they just scamming money out of me. I'm not sure on this one my tenant moved out on 1st on the 3rd I had a new tenant moved.

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Outraged 10th February, 2016 @ 04:55

I think that landlords and tenants all have their flaws. I have dealt with nothing but rude/lazy/neglectful landlords my entire life and I've been an excellent tenant, nothing destroyed and everything was left better than before I rented the place. Still I had to fight tooth and nail to get them to fix something that was their responsibility (ended up still being broken). There were a few times one landlord came to the property I was renting (DRUNK), while my two young children were playing in the yard and he started cursing at my husband and I for something his other tenants did, I had to call the cops on him and we moved.

Some tenants have given you all a bad run, but not All tenants are those who have wronged you. Remember the golden rule, do onto others as you would have them do onto you. Instead of being a tirent, get references before allowing anyone to move in, contact the references and if they don't check out don't rent.

Renters if a possible landlord gives you a bad vibe, don't rent from them.

Everyone just treat others like you would treat your parents, with respect and honesty!

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Joka 14th January, 2017 @ 01:22

What about when the renter calls the landlord who lives in Florida, telling three moths in advance about the exact moving date - tgen, two weeks before the moving date, when the senyera have book the movers and say to the landlord that the utilities will be transferred to the new residency, thus they will not have anything on their property afterward?
What if the landlord doesn't take the initiative to do their own business and make sure to put the utilities back in their name?
So that is what happen with us. We called this couple and in advance notified about our plans so they could plan ahead. They thought we were going to be still responsible for the utilities after moving out. So they did nothing. They had 3 months to buy a ticket plane but then they said their plan changed because ticket was expensive, so the husband would drive. Still, none one showed up when we moved out. We had to give the keys to a friend of ours and theirs.
Things happened, power went out, ice built and the laundry pipe broke. They are now refusing to return our security deposit because, according to them, the house was not ready neither fully vacant.
This is the reason why we prefer to deal with a property management, instead of "homeowners" that want to rent their house...
Many times we told about te roof issue, the concrete base falling apart, the patio ground uneven and when it rained, we ha ponds! Insulation issues and ceiling mold... What did they say? We don't have the money to fix the property.
Be careful to make business with these type of lazy and irresponsible landlords.

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W0rdsy 31st October, 2018 @ 12:08

Some interesting perspectives in the comments above. I would like to reply to a couple of them. :)

I have been a renter for 15 years and a landlord for 2. During those 15 years I have been a DSS claimant, a student and then a professional working in a city. Not once have I taken for granted the properties I rent or broken any white goods. (I am Enlish btw :P )

I have had bad landlords and good ones. I have taken note of the things my good landlords did that made me consider them a good landlord and these are the things I do for my tenants.

One thing I have learnt as a tenant regarding utilities - The day you move in and the day you move out take photographs of the gas, electric and water meters so that even if you are too busy to call them and change the account holder details immediately you still have the correct reading for the day you moved in. I would also recommend this to letting agents, and landlords who live close to the property.

Another way to avoid tenants not transferring details etc and mess ups with bills is to include the cost of utilities in the rent price and keep the accounts in the landlords name.

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Greendizzycrab 1st November, 2019 @ 21:10

My tenant left without informing the utility company, who refused to let me open an account with them or transfer to another company. They say there are arrears, yet I topped up the prepayment meter. I have to provide deeds to prove that I own the property and even then they plan to refund the tenant!!!

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