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Moved into new property and I owe previous tenants bill, why?

  • 10 August 2019
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I have previously moved into a new property supplied by OVO and as now the legal occupier I opened a letter to them sending debt collectors round because the previous tenants hadn’t paid their bill!

I was mortified that they are doing this! I tried calling and couldn’t get through to them at first. When I did the gentleman was very reassuring and told me he would rectify the bill and did the sale pitch to which I decided to stay with them.

Received the new statement and they are still trying to charge me!! I’ve had it with this company already! Painful is an understatement! Plus my new email as a new client states they are open Saturday they are not!

Not at all happy and want to go back to Bulb Energy even though they are slightly more expensive. Customer service was second to none.

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Best answer by Amy_OVO 12 August 2019, 14:29

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Userlevel 7
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Thanks for posting this @EB23. Firstly the debt results from a contract between an individual and a company (OVO Energy). That debt cannot be transferred to another individual, and you have no legal liability to meet it.

Secondly, as you have spoken to OVO Customer Services and informed them of the problem, any attempt to send debt collectors to your address would merely result in them paying the collection fees. That would be a waste of time/effort/money, and I don't think OVO are that stupid!

You state that you have a new Statement. I assume that it is addressed to you as an individual with a new Contract Number. Correct?

If that Statement contains an element of a debt from a different/previous contract, then the Statement is faulty.

Simply send an email with the word "Complaint" in the Subject Line and at the start of the Message Body Text.

State clearly and politely that the debt in question belongs to a Contract between OVO and another individual. Request that they issue you with a new/correct Statement.

The email means that there is a date/time stamp attached, denoting the start of the Complaints Procedure. OVO have to address the Complaint within 5 working days.

Please do not worry about this. The Complaints System works, and OVO have the best record in the industry for complaints handling. See the latest Which? Report published at the beginning of 2019.

Let us know if you have any further difficulties, and enjoy your weekend.

Thank you for the reassurance. Ovo knew I had only just taken over the property but yet still issued me with the statement with added costs? So if they knew it belonged to someone else why are they still pursuing it?

I have made a complaint as sugested and I hope this gets rectified as soon as possible.
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I'm not as surprised as you are that this has happened, @EB23.

For reasons I will not expand on here, the scenario you describe bears similarity to a method used by fraudsters to create a fake identity. OVO are required to operate under Ofgem guidelines which aim to make this harder to achieve.

Unless all the boxes get ticked within OVO's anti-fraud mechanism, I would expect their system to send just such a bill to you.

In my experience, you should take every step possible to ensure that OVO have a clear trail of evidence showing that the previous tenant has vacated the property, and that you are a different person with a fresh tenancy agreement. Even if they haven't asked for it, why not start by supplying OVO with details such as the forwarding address for the old tenant and contact info for the landlord?
Userlevel 6

Updated on 30/06/21 by Jess_OVO

 

Sorry for any confusion caused by the debt notification letters you’ve received since moving home - rest assured you won’t be responsible for any energy used by a previous tenant.

 

Sounds like we are currently supplying the energy to your new home and have sent out these letters addressed to ‘The Occupier’, as we don’t currently have an account set-up for you. First things first, you’ll need to let us know you’ve moved in - you can do this here or by contacting our Support Team. Even if you’re planning on switching suppliers - we’ll need a temporary account created in order to cover the period before your switch (this can be 3 - 4 weeks). When we create your account we’ll check the date you moved in and the meter readings on this date (unless you’ve got a Smart meter!) and create you an account starting from this point. 

 

Once you’ve done this, any letters addressed to ‘The Occupier’ can be ignored - they may have been posted out before your account was created or relate to a time that you’re not responsible for. The charges showing on these letters won’t have an impact on your account - we’ll contact you with your first statement (either via post or email depending on your chosen method) within 4 weeks of you creating an account . You’ll know it’s your statement as we’ll address it to your name, rather than ‘The Occupier’. The easiest way to keep an eye on your new account is by logging in to your online account or downloading our app (available for iOS and Android)

 

There’s more tips on how to manage your energy account when you move home on this great guide, and other moving house advice on this handy checklist

 

Good luck with the unpacking. :thumbsup:

 

OVO member but not got a smart meter yet? - Book today!

 

Interested but not yet an OVO member? - Check out our plans!

 

Hi Amy,

Thanks for coming back to me, I’ve called Ovo today as I made a complaint and it is now all sorted.

They have had to write off the previous account and I have now started from when I had the property.

It is all now sorted

Emily

Hi,

I’m having a rather frustrating time with moving house and discovering unpaid bills addressed to “The Occupier” which only became apparent after an attempted switch in providers.

The property was previously a part-exchange property - the last occupier/owner sold the property to Barratt Homes effective from the 27th June 2019.  I moved in on the 20th September 2019, so clearly Ovo are trying to bill “The Occupier” for this period of time.  Having updated Ovo with the new occupancy information for myself from this date I am still receiving letters for “The Occupier” that are stating the debt will be passed onto a collection agency.

After speaking to one of your advisors and explaining that there was no occupant between 24th June and 20th September, and also stating who the owner was (Barratt Homes) for this period it seems the debt will still be passed onto a debt collection agency against my property address so I will have to ensure I keep proof of my completion date to hand in case any debt collectors turn up (this is unacceptable).

I have ended up creating an account with Ovo from the 20th September after the switch British Gas failed as I can’t keep going without an energy provider (as part of this I supplied the meter readings for the date I moved in).

I appreciate this situation is rather unusual but I find it hard to believe that I’m the only person that has experienced this as part-exchange properties are quite common.

Any advice would be appreciated, this has soured what was a relatively smooth house move for my partner and I!

Userlevel 6

Take a look at the best answer, @AndroidL, this should explain what’s going on here!

I’ve just moved into a house & wanted to switch to Bulb energy for the £50 credit but Ovo will not allow it.

Apparently there is an outstanding amount at this address (According to Bulb).

I’m enraged that I can not switch and even more vexed that it seems like ovo are goint to try to pin someone else’s debt on me.

Is this standard practice to get new tenants to pay old tenants bills?

I know a credit card company who try’s this scam but I thought the energy business was more credible...I guess not.

maybe a rebrand to oh-no instead.

 

Userlevel 7
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Thanks for raising this point @notacustomer .

Just have a look at what I wrote here earlier. The debt is not yours. You simply need to inform OVO of the circumstances.

The block to prevent you switching is administrated by ECOES, the National Electricity Meter Database. So there are a few steps for OVO to go through before you can switch to Bulb. It’s not just an in-house operation.

The plot thickens.

I have had the first correspondence from ovo today addressed to the occupier.

2 letters!

The first objecting to the switch as they claim I owe £308.08 ! FOR 6 DAYS!

The second is a threatening letter saying that a debt collector is coming to force entry & fit a prepayment meter.

I see this as a threat of violence against me & I doubt the landlord will be happy about having the door kicked in….then again its not my door!

I wrote to them 2 days ago with my opening readings & have emailed, thats another 48 hours to respond...

 

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Please remember @notacustomer - these are not your debts.

There is no threat against you.

There is no possibility of OVO taking enforcement action to recover such a sum from you because the Small Claims Division of the County Court would throw them out!

OVO aren’t stupid… although their computer system which sends out the correspondence is a bit slow on the uptake  :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I have moved into a new flat three months ago and ever since then I have been receiving letter addressed to the flat occupier from OVO Energy. I have opened all of them, and they were all about unpaid debts accumulated by the previous flat tenant. I have tried contacting OVO informing them I have moved here and would like to open a new account and it’s been three months with no resolution of the issue…

Long story short, my account is still somewhat not opened, I have not received any new bills or contract but keep getting letters about the debt. This week I received a notification they will get this matter to debt collection agency to get a warranty of entry to enter my property! This is utterly ridiculous and their phone customer service can’t help with anything…. Awful company.

Userlevel 6

Take a look at this topic for more info, @katiejag. You can open your account here. You won’t be liable to pay any usage from before the date you moved in, so don’t worry too much about that. 

Userlevel 7
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Hi @katiejag …. can you please clarify: Are you trying to open an account with OVO in your own name? (Or is with a different Supplier?)

If it’s with OVO and you have the meter reading from the day you moved in, then the solution is simple - use the Complaints Procedure. I recommend using email to contact Customer Services. Not only do you get to keep a dated copy of what you wrote, but it’s easier for them to forward it internally to the correct person.

In theory if the problem isn’t resolved within 8 weeks then you can refer the matter to the Office of the Energy Ombudsman. It’s rare that OVO would let it get that far. Their Complaints handling system has a very high customer satisfaction score.

The fact that you’ve been waiting 3 months suggest to me that you’re not yet even within the Complaints system.

Userlevel 6

Hey @katiejag, this all does sound a bit of a muddle, so that we can best help and get to the bottom of this please reach out to our team.

You can send us a message on FacebookTwitter and our Help centre has online chat. You can reach our team on: 0330 303 5063. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday to Friday.

Hope this helps! 

 

Hi,

I received a bill to “the occupier” at my address, claiming debit for electricity used almost a year ago by the previous tenants. Obviously I don’t have to pay it since I only moved in 6 months ago and I am with a different supplier, but I also do not want this bill hanging over the property and affecting credit if it remains unpaid.

How do I get this removed from the property?

I have tried emailing, but since the email address isn’t linked to the account, they refuse to talk to me, and the automated telephone message says I should not be calling.

Kind regards,

Userlevel 6

I’ve moved your post here, @Kidms001, there’s lots of handy info in the best answer and the thread. 

Thanks! 

Thank you @Amy_OVO . I have tried to sort this out via email, but no success, because even though I live here and the previous tenants are long gone, they won’t deal with me as I’m not the account holder. I will escalate to a complaint.

Userlevel 7
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Hi @Kidms001 - It’s very unusual for an energy bill to be addressed to “The Occupier”. Under Financial Services rules, the contract is with an individual, rather than the property. That’s why there is a mandatory 14-day (minimum) delay when you switch Suppliers. You have the right to change your mind.

For the same reason I can’t see how an unpaid energy bill could possibly affect your credit rating.

Please don’t be concerned about this. As I wrote to another customer earlier in this Topic, there is absolutely no possibility of OVO pursuing this debt against you personally. The Small Claims Division of the County Court wouldn’t accept it.

Please note that this Forum is open to everyone, and not just customers of OVO. So if you have further difficulties on such an energy matter, then please post here again.

Userlevel 2

Hello everyone.

I discovered these forums whilst searching for help on an electric bill, I saw the OVO reference on the letter and was hoping someone could help me.

I moved to a new flat mid October and found a letter from an electric company called SSE. It was addressed to the occupier and said they were providing electric to my flat.

Before I made my move, I let my own electric supplier (NPower) know about the move and told they I would like to use them at my new flat.

But NPower didn't start to supply by electric until 05 November meaning SSE had been supplying it for about 20 days.

SSE sent the occupier a bill for the period 01 September to 05 November. £230.

I found out the previous tenant moved out on the 02 September and the flat remained unoccupied until my tenancy started on the 16 October.

I emailed SSE about the bill being very high and tried to explain things.

Three weeks later they replied and basically said what usually happens is when a new tenancy begins, the new occupier may want their own electric supplier but there's a delay, meaning money would still be owed to the old supplier. I'm fine with that, but I just don't agree with paying for the electric used for the seven weeks I wasn't even there.

They asked when I moved into the new flat and if I could supply a meter reading. This info was sent to them.

My landlord meanwhile asked to see this bill (I handed it into their office) and they eventually managed to get in touch with SSE via phone.

My landlord said SSE would send me a new amended bill, but they can't change the dates of the bill and I was warned it's still going to be quite high because I didn't let SSE know straight away.

On 28th December, SSE sent me another bill but it's only been reduced by £5. The bill now has my name on it & the date has actually been changed: For the period 23 Dec - 23 Dec.

Not sure what to do now. A few threads on here are saying my landlord is responsible for the bills between tenants. Wishing I had kept the original bill now.

Can someone please help, I simply don't have £225 to pay them.

Thank you!

Userlevel 7
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Happy New Year @bonzojim ,

Ooh… A tricky puzzle of a question eh? We absolutely love puzzle solving these ones, so you’re in luck here. While this is the OVO forum and not quite the same as SSE, the good news is that we like to help out anyone who stops by, even if you’re not with OVO.

Just so you know, I’m a forum volunteer on the OVO Forums and as I’m only an OVO customer, I’m not an official representative of OVO or SSE. However, I am able to help out with this and my advice is independent from both.

I can indeed confirm that you should NOT be responsible for any usage/billing that occurred prior to you moving in since that’s not related to your own usage. You’re only meant to be responsible for what’s used from the date you took over the property (such as becoming the new tenant in this case).

If you do decide to switch supplier when you move in, rather than stay with whoever currently supplies the property, then yup, you do still have to pay the current supplier for what you use between the date you move in and the date when your new supplier takes over. After this point, you pay the new supplier - you’re spot on with your understanding here.

My advice would be to ask your landlord for help again, since they should be responsible for all the usage between the date the previous tenant moved out and the date you moved in - and the previous tenant should be responsible for all the bills that they racked up while they were the active tenant. Please feel free to give your landlord a link to this forum thread in case that helps.

My recommended action from here would be to initiate the complaints process with SSE and submit a formal complaint about the matter - you’ll want to head over here for that. The options to pick on the menu are Gas and Electricity followed by Complaints which should pull up the right details. If you don’t get anywhere after eight weeks, you can then escalate the matter to the Office of the Energy Ombudsman who can take a closer look and try to break any deadlocks.

I hope this helps, but please let us know if you need any more advice.

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May I just clarify, @bonzojim 

The assessment of the bill by SSE isn’t just an estimate from their own calculations. They can also draw on data from the national electricity meter database, ECOES.

There are three such assessments to be considered:

  • the Final Bill to be paid by the old tenant up to the day the flat was vacated, 2nd Sept
  • the interim bill prior to you moving in on 16th Oct
  • the amount used by you until you switched to NPower on 5th Nov

The first category is relatively easy to assess because it can be extrapolated from the usage trends of the previous tenant.

The third category is only slightly complicated by the fact that there may have been a small delay in you providing a reading. You haven’t stated the date on which you took that reading, nor the date that you emailed it to SSE.

The middle category is where there may be a dispute. It is quite reasonable for a landlord to continue using some electricity during this interim period, most especially to keep the flat warm, to clean it, and for lighting whilst prospective new tenants are shown around. Nevertheless, you are not liable for any usage during that time because it falls outside the contract of your tenancy agreement.

Clarity is going to be extremely important in reaching a suitable conclusion to this issue.

Userlevel 2

Hi there @Blastoise186  & @Transparent  Thank you so much for for taking time out from your holidays to help with my problems.

 

Blastoise186 - I’m going to let my landlord know about the new bill on Monday. I’ve no idea what whey will say (a reputable estate agent). I will also thin about filling out a complaint form over at the SSE website.

 

Transparent - SSE emailed me on 14th December, weeks after I got in touch over the bill, They asked if I had a reading from when I moved in and I found pictures of the meter in my Inventory, The inventory seems to be dated 14th October, this is the date I gave them with info on the readings but I emailed them back on the 15th December.

 

Ideally I’d be happy to split this bill with my landlord, that would mean me paying for 3 weeks and they would pay for 7 weeks, I’m not sure what they will say and am actually dreading it.

 

Thank you both again, I hope you both enjoy the rest of the holiday :)

 

Jim

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No worries, you’re most welcome @bonzojim !

Having read through everything again, I would probably also recommend trying to get hold of that original bill again from your landlord, just in case you need it. Ideally, you’d want the original copy that you handed over to the landlord and let them keep a copy of it, or ask SSE if they’d be happy to send you another copy as duplicate bill of the same one. This shouldn’t cause you to get billed twice for the same one, as it’s simply a spare copy of the one you already had.

Getting hold of the original may well help you a lot, especially if you later need to escalate this to the Energy Ombudsman.

I’d probably also agree that splitting up the bill and contributing an appropriate share makes sense - especially if you’re able to agree a suitable split with your landlord. If you have any kind of evidence as to what the meter reading was when you moved in and that evidence is properly timestamped, it will also work in your favour. Since the inventory report does form part of the tenancy agreement, I think it’s suitable for this purpose.

As it happens I also rent my flat, so I know how it’s supposed to work. On the day I moved in, I checked the electricity meter for my flat alongside my landlord and we both saw the reading at the same time and agreed that should be the cutover point. I then gave that reading to my chosen supplier at the time and that was used as the opening reading for my account and was the point when I became responsible for the bills. Meanwhile, my landlord took care of paying off the existing bill from the point when the previous tenant moved out and when I moved in as per the agreement.

I will admit that at the time when I moved in, SSE was the active supplier and I decided to stay with them since the deal was pretty good back then. I did switch to OVO a couple of years later, but the way it’s supposed to work is pretty much the same for this purpose.

You only become responsible for paying the bill from the point of that “cutover”, for which I think the inventory report will do the job very nicely in your case. So if I’ve got my numbers right…

  • The previous tenant paid the bill up until they moved out on 2nd September 2020
  • Landlord became responsible on 2nd September 2020 up until 16th October 2020 and they need to pay this portion
  • You moved in on 16th October 2020 and became responsible for the bill from this date
  • You left SSE on the 5th November 2020 after switching to NPower - the SSE bill freezes at this point and no further usage was recorded with SSE

If I was to base a 70/30 split on £230, I calculate the landlord share as being £161 and your share as being £69. Or if it’s based on the reduced £225 bill, that’ll be £157.50 and £67.50 respectively. That seems about right to me.

I hope you manage to get this sorted soon. But if you still need more help, we’ll be happy to offer it.

Happy New Year and good luck in your new home. :)

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@bonzojimwrote:

I’m not sure what they will say and am actually dreading it

On my behalf, please ask the Estate Agent (landlord) if they’d mind you stating the name of their company here on the Forum. We’d be interested to have here a record of how a reputable Agent handles this situation. We can then refer to this Topic as an example of how the bill gets apportioned correctly.

Thank-you.

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