Gas and electricity for tenants
Under consumer protection law, if you are a renting a property and are directly responsible for paying the gas and/or electricity bills, you have the right to choose your own energy supplier. Your landlord or letting agent should not unreasonably prevent this.
Can my landlord choose my gas or electricity supplier?
Your landlord has the right to choose your energy supplier only when they are directly responsible for paying for the gas or electricity.
This might include situations where your landlord:
- pays the energy supplier directly and reclaims the money from you as the tenant.
- incorporates the cost of energy within the accommodation charges.
- assumes responsibility for the supply between tenancies.
Your tenancy agreement should detail if you or your landlord are responsible for paying for the gas or electricity.
Tenant tips on switching and energy shopping
- for any clauses on energy suppliers in your tenancy agreement. There may be some circumstances when a letting agent or landlord has a preferred supplier which is set as the default supplier as part of the tenancy agreement. This is known as a 'default supplier clause'.
- If you notice a default supplier clause before you sign a tenancy agreement, talk with your landlord or letting agent to see if you can renegotiate this clause. If following this conversation you cannot change the clause, you are still entitled to switch supplier if you are responsible for paying the energy bills.
- your landlord or letting agent notifies you of any tie-ins with specific suppliers. They must do this if it applies and they should give you details at the outset of applicable tariffs and charging details.
- if you are required by a clause in the contract to tell the landlord or letting agent if you switch supplier.
- if you are required by a clause in the contract to return the account to the original supplier, or the original meters if you have them changed, at the end of the tenancy.
- your meter readings. Take a reading when you move in and move out and get these to the supplier if you are responsible for paying the energy bills, or your landlord if they are.
Compare and save during your tenancy:
See if you can get a better offer by comparing tariffs and suppliers. The tips and tools available in the following guides can help:
- Citizens Advice guide: How to compare energy tariffs and deals (opens another website) - Get to grips with the questions to ask suppliers and how to use price comparison websites.
- Citizens Advice guide: Common energy tariffs explained (opens another website) - Explore the tariff types that may best suit you.
- Ofgem-accredited energy price comparison websites - Shop with confidence using an online comparison service we’ve accredited under the Ofgem Confidence Code.
- Compare supplier performance on customer service - Take a look at Ofgem data to see who the best and worst performers are.
The information you'll need to switch
If you choose to switch energy supplier, you’ll need:
- Your postcode
- The name of current supplier
- The name of the energy offer you're currently on and how much you spend on gas and electricity. You can find this information on a recent bill.
- An up-to-date meter reading
- Your bank details if you will be paying by direct debit
- Your Meter Point Access Number (or ‘MPAN’) and Meter Point Reference Number (or ‘MPRN’). You can find these on a recent bill.
Smart meters in rented property
If you directly pay your energy supplier for the gas or electricity in your rented property, you can choose to have a smart meter installed. Although we’d recommend you tell your landlord before you get one. There may be rules in your tenancy agreement about how energy is supplied to the property, including the type of meter that can be installed. If the landlord pays the energy bill for the property then the decision to get a smart meter is up to them.
We’re encouraging landlords to help their tenants benefit from the national rollout of smart meters, and to tell you they are happy for you to install one. If your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to alter metering at your property, your landlord or letting agency should not unreasonably prevent it.
For more information, see Smart Meters: Your Rights.
Prepayment meters in rented property
If you have a prepayment meter you should still be able to switch energy suppliers with a debt of up to £500 for gas and £500 for electricity.
If you've just moved to a rented property with a prepayment meter, make sure you - or your landlord, if they are responsible for paying the bills - tell your supplier about the new tenancy straightaway. This is so you can be certain you are paying the right rates and not repaying a former tenant's debt.
Prepayment tariffs are usually more expensive, so you may want to ask about the different options available to you, including if you can change to a standard meter. Most suppliers offer this for free, though some may charge. Find out more at Understand your energy meter.
- The Citizens Advice consumer helpline can offer help and advice at any time if you’re having problems switching.
- If your landlord pays for your energy, the Citizens Advice guide on what your landlord can charge for your energy (opens another website) may also help.
More tenant energy guides
- For more answers to common tenant queries on switching, see the Citizens Advice guide: Your energy rights as a tenant (opens another website)
- Who is my gas or electricity supplier?
- How to deal with energy sales people