Ask Lorraine – We had been renting our Tamworth property out to a couple who really did seem to be respectable and trustworthy.
Once they had moved out we found they had left owing over £600.00 in utility bills.
Apparently the lady had contacted the utility suppliers and said they were only renting a room from us and we were responsible for the bills.
This was simply not true, the couple were renting the whole property. For the past 3 months, we have been in talks with the utility suppliers however as the couple have now disappeared we are being pressed to settle these bills. We have been burying our heads in the sand. Please help.
Lorraine’s answer – Hi Anna,
Did you take meter readings and inform the utility companies before the tenants moved in?
Did you also inform the water company and council when the tenants moved in?
As the Landlord and owner of the property, you should really take responsibility to advise the relevant companies when tenants move in and out. Don’t rely on others to do this!
You need to contact the Utility suppliers and explain that the tenants were liable for the bills, send them the Tenancy Agreement confirming this and make sure they change the owing accounts into the tenants names.
This will ensure their contracts are between them and the tenants plus it should prevent them coming to the property to install credit meters to claw back the outstanding debt from you.
For future reference, you can ask to become an additional name on the account (‘Third Party User’) the tenant has to request this but you can make the tenancy agreement conditional upon this. The landlord would not be liable for the bills, it would give the landlord a way to monitor the tenants account and perhaps be aware of any issues unfolding.
Until next week
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