There are a lot of things that can be done to reduce your living costs, but when you are a tenant in a rented property you may be unsure which of these fall within your rights. While some things pertaining to the property most certainly require the permission of your landlord, there are nonetheless a great many things you can do to bring down the cost of living in your property. These fall entirely within your rights as a tenant and do not require any approval at all.
Switch Energy Supplier
If you pay the bills yourself rather than through the landlord (for example if they are included in your rent), you are entirely within your right to switch the company that supplies your electricity and gas. In rare cases, tenancy agreements may include a clause saying you need the landlord’s permission to make the swap but, according to Ofgem the energy regulator, you should not be prevented unreasonably. A clause that prevents tenants from switching when they are responsible for paying bills could also potentially be viewed as an unfair agreement. The exception is where changing would require an alteration to the property, such as switching from a prepaid meter to a standard one.
Switching your energy supplier could potentially save a lot of money. The cheapest deals often come from smaller suppliers. Even if you aren’t familiar with their names, this isn’t necessarily a reason to hesitate. In customer satisfaction surveys, small companies tend to get much higher scores than the big ones.
Phone and Broadband
Similarly, if you are responsible for paying the bills for phone and broadband, you should be fully entitled to choose your own supplier. Usually, if a new line or reactivation of a line is required when you move into the property this should be within your rights even if it means a visit from an engineer in order to install it. However, check with your landlord if the property does not have any current phone sockets.
Once again, make use of comparison sites in order to get the best deal. Make sure you also look at other aspects of the package such as special offers or cashback in order to identify the best price. At the same time, make sure you choose a suitable package, as exceeding your download limit can quickly get very expensive.
Check Agency Fees Carefully
Agencies usually apply fees to a transaction, and these can be fairly heavy. Things like referencing fes are necessary and it is standard to include an administrative fee, but there have been occasional reports of some very questionable add-ons such as £60 for photocopying a document.
Fees should not only be reasonable, but also stated clearly up-front so you know what you are getting yourself into. If you feel an agency is failing to follow these principles and are hitting you with hidden fees, you can report them online to Shelter.