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Question

Ending a Tenancy (England) | England | Tenant Moves Out (England)

Tenant left with large debts to utility companies

10 Aug 2022 | 6 comments

My tenant has moved out and I have discovered she has not been paying for electricity/ gas and has a £1500 debt. The utility companies are now chasing me for it! Letters are addressed to ‘owner’, rather than her. I have sent them the tenancy agreement showing she was liable, they didnt reply and I  am still being hounded by debt collectors.

(The tenant also owes me £1400 for damages/ unpaid rent which the deposit didnt cover.)

She has not given me a forwarding address, but I have the address of her mother who was guarantor, thus jointly responsible. ( Although her words to me when I contacted her were ‘its nothing to do with me’ before she hung up on me! Can I pass on the mothers address to the utility companies? I am concerned that my new tenants may cone home one day to find a pay as you go meter has been fitted and they will end up paying off this debt!
I am wondering if I should pay the utility bills and then add that to the amount she owes me, although maybe its not worth paying legal fees as it could be difficult to take her to court if I dont know where she’s living. I do have an email address for her, but not sure if that is an alternative to sending a court summons by conventional post.

Any advice appreciated.

Answer

6 Comments

  1. guildy

    You absolutely should not pay the tenants bills. It’s not your responsibility despite what any utility company may say.

    If there was a deposit, you had to give the tenant prescribed information. In that information there has to be under the legislation a “post tenancy address”.

    That is the address to give to the utilities. Failing that, we think the guarantor address should be okay.

  2. Emma Tucker

    In respect of a pre-payment meter, I always advise a new tenant to register immediately with the relevant energy companies so that they don’t become liable for any previous debts on the meter. Two friends (not my tenants) have been caught out by this one. Too many people don’t realise that a pre-payment meter may include past debts.

  3. sambam47180

    Just a quick question on the above question. I am looking to serve a section 21 on my tenant fairly soon due to lots of issues.
    There is no deposit, so no ‘prescribed information’. No guarantor either. How do I ensure that my tenant doesn’t leave lots of debts behind that will come back to me/new tenants?
    Thanks, and good luck Emma!

  4. guildy

    There’s nothing that can be done except perhaps, as the date they will be leaving nears, remind them to sign off and clear all accounts.

    A landlord or new tenant is never liable for the bills of previous occupiers unless there is some provision in the tenancy agreement (e.g. landlord pays utilities).

  5. maxstrelling

    Hi Guildy Ref the post tenancy address clearly most tenants do not know where they will be next so options are previous address or next of kin as far as I can see . Or do you ask the tenant “do you have an address we can use post tenancy “?
    Thanks

  6. guildy

    If you use our online application form for prospective tenants, that asks for a next of kin. It then says, “May we use this address as your post tenancy address?”. 99.9% select “yes”. If they select “no”, they must enter a preferred post tenancy address.

    We don’t mind what they put as their post address as long as the deposit prescribed information contains something.

    The application is the easiest way to get the information.

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