Lowering bills, cutting carbon
12 Jul 2021
Not sure if you’re allowed to switch energy suppliers because you rent your home? Well, don’t worry – we’re here to clear up the ins and outs of switching while renting. After all, we believe everyone deserves to get the best deal possible when it comes to green energy – and that includes you!
The good news is that it’s a pretty straightforward matter; if you pay for the energy bills directly, you can switch to cleaner, greener energy whenever you like. Just like anyone who owns their home. It’s polite to let your landlord know you’ve switched (and some tenancy agreements require this), but they can’t actually stop you. This is your right under consumer protection laws. In fact, Ofgem has set out clear guidance on the issue – worth having if your landlord ever disagrees.
What if your landlord pays your energy bills?
What if your tenancy agreement says that you can’t switch?
Renting for less than a year?
Can you switch energy supplier before you move in?
What information do you need to switch a rented property?
So you want to switch – how do you get started?
If your landlord pays the energy company directly and then charges you (or incorporates the energy costs in your rent), it’s up to them to choose the supplier. But remember, even if they do pay the bills, they can only charge you for what you use (or your fair share if it’s a house-share) so do check you’re not being overcharged.
If you think you’re paying too much, or you’d prefer a different supplier, it’s well worth checking out what deals are available and then approaching your landlord to ask if they’d mind switching. As the saying goes, “Don’t ask, don’t get”. They may well be perfectly happy to swap. Don’t forget to let them know that unlike other switching services, moving supplier through Big Clean Switch means they are protected by our customer service promise.
Sometimes, landlords will put a clause in the tenancy agreement that sets out their preferred energy supplier or restricts your ability to choose supplier. This is called a default supplier clause and, if you notice before you sign the agreement, it’s worth asking if you can change it. But if you’ve already signed, can you switch energy supplier if you’re renting?
And, to reiterate what we said earlier, even if this clause is included and you pay the energy bills directly, the landlord can’t actually stop you switching – it’s not enforceable in law.
If you think your landlord’s being unreasonable or overcharging you, Citizens Advice can help.
Many of the most affordable green energy tariffs are fixed rate deals, which means the supplier can’t change the price you pay per unit of energy for a set period – usually 12 months. The downside to fixed rate deals is that suppliers will often apply an ‘exit fee‘ of as much as £80 (£40 for gas, £40 for electricity) if you leave the contract early.
If you know you’re going to be renting your property for less than a year – if you’re in a student house, for example, and only going to be renting to cover the academic year from October through to July – there are three things you should bear in mind:
TIP | You can easily work out which date is 42 days before your tariff end date by typing “42 days before X” (where X is your end date) into Google.
You can legally only switch energy supplier when you are officially the occupier of a property. If you’re renting, that means the date your lease begins. For that reason, our recommendation is that you wait until you’ve actually moved in before you submit a switch application.
The downside to waiting is that, because there is a 14-day statutory cooling off period before your switch can go live, you’ll spend at least the first 14 days in your property (and usually more like 17-21 days) with whichever supplier the previous tenants used. Worse still, that supplier will place you on their ‘default’ tariff – usually their most expensive deal.
It is possible to time a switch application so that the amount of time you’ll spend on the old supplier’s default tariff is reduced (by submitting the application, say, 10 days before you’re due to move in), but if you’re looking at doing this, then bear the following in mind:
In order to submit a switch application for your new rented home, you’ll need to know a few details about the property:
Don’t be daunted – it’s super simple to switch, and who doesn’t like making a saving? If you haven’t already, now’s a good time to think about switching to a green energy supplier. Renewable energy is no longer the pricey option. Not only that but it’s actually one of the most effective ways to positively impact the world we live in.
All you need to get started is a recent energy bill. Next, compare prices online. There are lots of places to do this, like our free energy comparison service. Or, to make life even easier, you can just email your latest bill to email@example.com and we’ll email you back with a quote.
The best bit is that once you’ve chosen a supplier, they’ll sort everything else out for you. No hassle, no fee and no disruption to your service. So take it from us – it can be so simple to get cheaper, cleaner energy from the supplier of your choice, even when you’re renting!