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Utility bills for private tenants

Utility bills are payments for essential services like gas, electricity and water.

If you're renting you might have to pay for utilities in these ways:

  • a bill from the energy or water supplier

  • rent that includes utility bills

  • a service charge for energy and water costs

Some tenants have a prepayment meter for gas and electricity instead of a monthly bill.

Who pays utility bills in a shared house?

Your landlord will be responsible for bills if they are included in your rent or you pay a service charge for energy or water. You do not have to pay the supplier directly.

If the tenants are responsible for paying, you can set up the account so that you're all named on the bills.

If another housemate does not pay their share you might still have to pay the whole bill.

If someone puts your name on a bill without your permission you might not have to pay it.

Contact Citizen Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 to work out if you have to pay.

If you get a bill from your supplier

You usually have to pay the bill if either:

  • it has your name on it

  • you use energy or water and nobody else is responsible for paying

Check if you're responsible for a utility bill on the Citizens Advice website.

Let your supplier know if you move home

Tell your utility companies in advance that you're moving.

Take meter readings and photos on the days you move in and out.

Send them to your energy and water suppliers and the landlord.

Citizens Advice has more on dealing with your energy supply when moving home.

Switching energy supplier

You do not need your landlord's permission to switch supplier if you pay the bills.

There are not many deals that could save you money right now.

Citizens Advice explains more about switching energy suppliers.

If your rent includes utility bills

Check your tenancy agreement to see what it says about energy and water bills.

Sometimes all your bills are included and your rent is the same however much you use.

Some contracts set out how much energy and water is included in your rent. If you use more than this, your landlord could ask you for more. This is called a 'fair usage clause'.

If a fair usage clause sets out a cash limit on what is covered, you might have to pay something towards your energy bills even if your usage has not increased.

If you're asked to sign a new contract, check if any terms have changed. The new agreement might not have bills included.

Find out what to look out for in your tenancy agreement.

Rent increases

Your landlord could try to increase rent to make you pay more towards the bills.

Find out about rent increases for private tenants.

If you pay a service charge for energy or water

Your landlord must not charge you more than the energy or water company charge them.

They should not make a profit from reselling utilities to you as a tenant.

If a meter measures your individual energy or water usage, your landlord should use this to work out your charge.

If there is only one meter for a number of tenants, your landlord must have a logical method of working out how much each tenant pays and explain this to you if you ask.

You could use our letter templates if you think you're being overcharged.

What do you want to ask your landlord for?

Help with paying utility bills

Find out about:

Citizens Advice explain how to get help if you're struggling to pay your bills.

Prepayment meters

The type of meter you have is usually your choice if you pay the bill.

Citizens Advice has information to help you:

You do not need your landlord's permission to switch your meter type.

But you may have to pay to change the meter back at the end of the tenancy.

The Breathing Space scheme can pause debt recovery while you get free debt advice.

Last updated: 6 July 2023

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