I moved to a flagship block of flats seven months ago. As part of the tenancy agreement, I was given no choice of utility provider – SSE was our electricity supplier because, we were told, they have done the work to connect the building.
Each flat has electric heating and a smart meter which sends readings to SSE. However, when the development was being built, the council required the flat numbers to be changed at the last minute – every flat had two added to its number. So the electric meter in flat 100 is registered to flat 98. That can be fixed by supplying the serial numbers for each meter.
I sent mine to SSE, but I have never received an electric bill and I have a horrible feeling I will receive a demand for nearly a year’s worth of electricity in one go.
Because of the pandemic I am no longer financially secure and a shock bill risks pushing my finances over the edge. It also reduces my ability to understand what I am paying – my usage has increased during lockdown – and in making sure I am on a suitable tariff.
I haven’t had any communication from the landlord or SSE about this. A lot of families are affected – we are in a 15-storey building.
SL Bracknell, Berkshire
Your tenancy agreement can’t deprive you of the right to switch supplier unless the landlord pays the bills directly, then recoups the cost from tenants.
Some tenancy agreements include a “default supplier clause” naming a “preferred” supplier, but if you are the one paying the supplier you still have the right to switch, although you should notify the landlord first.
As for the address confusion, SSE says that many customers have been correctly re-registered and have received bills, although it only acted in your case after I intervened.
“We’re working closely with the housebuilder to resolve the issue and have scheduled an appointment at the customer’s flat,” it says. “Due to the coronavirus outbreak there has been a delay in visiting the property and resolving the issue.”
It added that affordable repayment plans will be offered to those who require it and offered to write off the unbilled sums you owe as a gesture of goodwill. When asked if that goodwill extended to other affected tenants, the company said it would “consider” it if circumstances required.