Business gas and electricity for new tenants
If you’ve just moved into a commercial rental property, there are several things to consider regarding electricity and gas at your new premises. Unless your energy bill is included with your rent, if you’re a business tenant you’ll most likely be responsible for managing and paying the energy bills at your premises.
The following is a short guide to business electricity and gas for new tenants.
Can I switch gas or electricity supplier if I’m a tenant?
There is a common misconception that if you are a tenant, your landlord is in charge of your energy management – including choosing energy suppliers and finding you the best business electricity rates for the premises. This is not always the case. A tenancy agreement will typically include information about who is responsible for the property’s energy bills. Check your agreement, or ask your landlord to find out what your situation is. You’ll likely be in one of two situations:
My tenancy agreement specifically mentions that I pay my energy bills directly to my landlord
In this case, your landlord will usually engage directly with your energy supplier, including deciding on energy rates and paying them. They will typically include the cost of your energy bill within your rent or within general service charges – or simply reclaim the money from you. If your landlord is in charge of your energy bills, you will not be able to switch suppliers – the energy contract lies with your landlord and not with you. If you do wish to change suppliers, you can still request this from your landlord – they’re not obliged to switch, but may do so on your request.
Energy use is usually recorded through a gas or electricity meter. Your energy bill should consist of a charge per unit, and your share of any standing charge. As a tenant, you are not obliged to pay any charges related to communal lighting, if applicable.
My tenancy agreement mentions that I am wholly responsible for my energy bills
If you pay your energy supplier directly, you’re responsible for the energy bills – as well as choosing gas or electricity contracts to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.
As a new tenant, it’s important to take the time to do so, as energy suppliers tend to automatically put new tenants onto ‘deemed’ rates. This is because energy suppliers regard you as a financial risk, because they do not know how much energy you will be consuming. As such, deemed rates are far more expensive than any rate you may be offered when you sign up as a new customer.
If you’re responsible for your business’s energy bills, you are free to switch suppliers or switch to a different deal, as long as you are acting within the terms and conditions outlined in your energy contract. Nonetheless, make sure to check your tenancy agreement before you switch suppliers – you may need to inform your landlord that you are switching, and your landlord may ask you to use their preferred supplier.
Click here for more information on reasons why a business may not be able to switch.
Moving premises: dealing with the incumbent supplier
If you are responsible for your energy bills, you’ll need to make sure you do not end up paying for the previous tenants’ energy. Find out who the energy supplier is for your new premises, and let them know about the change in tenancy. You’ll need to provide them with the following details:
- Your contact details.
- The date your lease starts.
- An open meter reading – this is the first meter reading taken when you move into a new business premises. This figure will help your energy supplier calculate an accurate quote for your energy contract. You do not have to stay with the same supplier if you don’t want to, but it always helps to know what they intend to charge you if you do.
- Your energy supplier may ask you to provide the details of the previous tenants – refer them to your landlord if you do not have this information.
- You may be asked to provide the unique identifying numbers for your energy meters. This called the Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) for electricity and the Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) for gas.
See our small print pointer for help locating useful information on your business energy bills.
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