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Ofgem underlines tenants’ right to switch energy suppliers

Bill payers who live in rented accommodation and have not switched supplier are missing out on an estimated £190 in savings

Tenants who don’t switch are missing out on an estimated £190 in savings

The guidance, issued today by the energy regulator, highlights the fact that anyone who rents and pays directly for energy has the right to switch supplier and find a better deal.

According to Ofgem’s 2013 customer engagement survey, 77% of people who rent their home have never changed energy supplier and as a direct result could be missing out on savings worth £190.

In some cases landlords can include a default energy supplier as part of the tenancy contract, however, tenants must be informed of any such agreements.

Ofgem has also produced a selection of ‘top tips for tenants’ which include guidance on how to check a tenancy contract for energy supplier related clauses and what to do in case of a switch.

The guidance was issued as part of the energy regulator’s commitment to creating a fairer and more transparent energy market in the UK.

Objective is to ‘empower consumers when navigating the energy market’

Philip Cullum, Ofgem’s partner, consumer policy and demand side insight commented on the findings: “At a time when 9 million British households are renting and budgets are tight, it is important that consumers are clear about where they stand when choosing and switching their energy supplier.

“Our research shows that tenants that have not switched could save an average of around £190 on their annual energy bill. Ofgem’s clear guide and top tips are intended to empower consumers when navigating the energy market and help them to find their best energy deal. It is all part of Ofgem’s work to make the market simpler, clearer and fairer for consumers.”

Guidance is ‘right on cue’

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, welcomed Ofgem’s initiative: “With Britain’s army of renters growing, and winter fast approaching, this guidance from Ofgem is right on cue and very welcome. It’s imperative that any myths around tenants switching their energy suppliers are busted immediately – our own research shows that less than a third of private renters are aware that they can switch energy suppliers, subject to their rental contract. This means that a huge number of people are paying more for their energy than they need to.

“Being a tenant does not mean relinquishing the right to control household bills – nor should it mean you miss out on the savings to be made by switching. While landlords can require in the rental contract that the tenant has to ask their permission, they cannot restrict them from moving to another supplier. The fact is that if your name is on the bill you have the right to shop around for a better energy deal. And with the possibility of rising energy prices this year, consumers need to be fully clued up on how to get the cheapest deal for them.”

Tenants should shop around for best deals

Carolyn Uphill, chairman of the National Landlords Association, said: “As energy prices rise, it’s essential that bill payers get the best value for money and when looking to rent a new property, tenants should consider the total cost of living in the property, including the bills, rather than the rent alone.

“We encourage tenants to shop around for the best deal and switch to a new, more competitively priced supplier. However, as a courtesy, we advise tenants to inform their landlord if they plan to change energy supplier and ask permission to add new wiring or equipment if this is required.”

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