Results from a new survey, looking at the awareness of tenants around their rights to switch energy suppliers, have revealed some are being refused their requests.
This survey, by auto-switching service The Labrador, involved 1,000 renters. The poll revealed that 5% of these renters have found themselves wrongly denied that opportunity to switch over from one energy supplier to another by their landlord. Based on the estimate that there are around 15m tenants in the UK, this converts to 779,626 people.
On top of this result, The Labrador also found that 6% thought they did not have the right or ability to switch suppliers.
This is not the case, however. Landlords are in no way allowed to prevent their renters from switching, if the tenant is managing their own bills.
Some renters simply stick with the same energy supplier used by the previous tenants. The survey showed one in ten to have chosen this option, and continued to use the same service. The Labrador also found that 10% of those surveyed claimed to be living in damp, cold and mouldy homes, due to reluctance to have the heating turned on during winter and face the expensive charges.
There were also reports of landlords and letting agents not being transparent about the average cost of their utility bills, and some found themselves paying what was left of the previous tenant’s charges.
Jane Lucy, founder of The Labrador, has commented: “There is a clear indication that some UK renters are living in sub-standard conditions during the coldest months, due to an ingrained fear over the cost of energy bills.
“Renters largely face the brunt of this, both overpaying for their energy use whilst also experiencing uncomfortable living environments due to the combination of poor housing.”
The Labrador launched earlier this year, and also works with letting agents, in order to help tenants move to suppliers that are more affordable.
There are other measures landlords can take, to help reduce such expenses for their tenants. By making changes to the property, to increase its overall Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating, this can bring down the amount spent on heating. Currently, it is a legal requirement that landlords granting new tenancies have to ensure their properties meet a minimum E rating. Anything less, and they could face a hefty fine…
Tenants now also have the right to request energy efficiency improvements to be made to the property.