When you rent a rated home, one of your responsibilities as a tenant is to make sure utility bills are paid. You don’t want to miss any payment for your gas and electricity as this may cause disconnection of such services. If you are having problems paying your energy bills, it is best to contact your service provider or energy provider right away. It is often possible to negotiate with them an alternative to disconnection.
1. Determine the amount you owe.
Electricity and gas bills are typically based on estimated meter readings. If you are going to negotiate with your energy supplier, make sure you take a meter reading of your electricity and gas first. Then call your energy supplier to ask them to do a new meter reading so that your exact bill will be recalculated.
2. Have an agreed repayment plan.
Call your energy supplier and make an inquiry regarding the payment plan you can have. Most companies allow their customers to make repayments based on a weekly, fortnightly or a monthly plan. You will have to pay an amount that is inclusive of the estimated amount of energy you use, plus the amount for your arrears. It is important that you only agree to an amount that you will manage to pay.
3. Consider paying your arrears straight from your benefits.
It is also possible for you to have your property rating as well as your energy bills and arrears paid through any of these benefits:
- Income support
- Pension credit
- Support and employment allowance
- Jobseeker’s allowance
A certain scheme called ‘Fuel Direct’ is where you can have a specific amount of money deducted from your benefit payment, which will then be paid to your energy supplier every 3 months. This is often a good repayment plan because it won’t hurt your finances severely. The payment will spread the cost of your bills over the year.
4. Go for a prepayment meter instead.
Tenants who are behind with their energy bills payments are often advised by energy suppliers to have a prepayment meter instead. This actually serves as an alternative to disconnection.
What prepayment meters do is buy fuel in advance. You can also set the meters to recover fuel debts, while at the same time paying for the electricity or gas that you are using.
5. Seek advice.
If you are having troubles paying your energy bills, or perhaps negotiating with your energy supplier, you may contact an adviser who will help figure out what you can do next. Just like you can turn to ratedrents.com to know your options when it comes to properties for rent and their home ratings, there are various agencies that provide assistance to troubled tenants.