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    • lindos90
    • By lindos90 9th Oct 17, 6:45 PM
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    lindos90
    Unpaid Gas Bill from before tenancy.
    • #1
    • 9th Oct 17, 6:45 PM
    Unpaid Gas Bill from before tenancy. 9th Oct 17 at 6:45 PM
    My son has just moved into student digs, his contract is inclusive of utilities (although the small print says it is actually up to a limited allowance of £10 per tenant per week)

    When he moved in (just over a week ago) there was an outstanding bill from British Gas, for approximately £160 with additional admin costs due to non payment. He handed it to the Lettings agent, who said they would sort it out immediately.

    Today he arrives home to a hand delivered letter from a debt collecting agency with a demand for over £2000 outstanding! They are going to seek a warrant to enter the property and attach a prepayment 'pay as you go' to the gas meter, or if that is not possible to do, they are going to cut the gas off!

    1) The letting agreement states that utilities are 'inclusive' of the rent they pay. We also assume the tariff set on the pay as you go meter will be huge in order to help pay off the outstanding debt, as well as pay for ongoing gas use, so the students should'nt be having to put their own money in this should they?

    3) How long does it usually take for debt collecting agencies to get a warrant?

    4) As tenants, where do they stand if the debt collectors come back with a warrant?

    Obviously he contacted the lettings agent immediately and told them, they said they would 'look into it and get it sorted' (again).

    Now I can't see an outstanding debt getting to £2000 without the lettings agent knowing about it at some point, so this can't be news to them.

    The letter and bill were addressed to the lettings agent, not to the Landlord. I am not sure quite how it works, but I'm making the assumption that the lettings agent totally manages the property, so is it more likely that they have not paid the bills, rather than the landlord?

    Any advice gratefully received. Just not really sure how to help him and his flatmates.
    Last edited by lindos90; 09-10-2017 at 8:03 PM.
Page 2
    • lindos90
    • By lindos90 10th Oct 17, 10:41 AM
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    lindos90
    To be honest, you're best off sticking with contacting BG and offering the correspondence address and tenancy information (advising utility bills are included) and contacting the letting agent to make a complaint about them not handling it. The CAB link i posted previously can help in how to complaint to the letting agent and about the letting agent if they're not cooperating.

    The property owner won't have any involvement in this matter as they pay the letting agent to manage it for them. Usually if they're getting the rent regularly they're not concerned. Another thing is due to DPA, they're not allowed to give out the property owner's information to tenants.
    Originally posted by ExtraMask
    Thanks again extramask, as soon as I'm back from work I am going to call British Gas, I hope that at least buys them a bit of time for it to be sorted. What you say about the landlords details is interesting as I thought the LA had a duty to give those details if asked (even if it just a name, not address) I thought I had read that somewhere during my late night googling, but what you say also makes sense too.
    • footyguy
    • By footyguy 10th Oct 17, 11:29 AM
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    footyguy
    ...

    There isn't a 'housing officer' at the Uni as far as we can see, who deal with issues with private rented student accommodation, they only seem to deal with their own campus accommodation.
    Originally posted by lindos90
    It's the same person - they should advise your son about any issues he has with his student accomodation.
    • lindos90
    • By lindos90 10th Oct 17, 1:36 PM
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    lindos90
    Just an update, British Gas managed to cut me off several times as I was starting to explain the situation (maybe a few handlers dont want to deal with any calls that are not quick and straightforward, and its easier just to hang up!?)

    I would not have been able to get through at all if it wasnt for the customer number on the debt agency letter (BGs automated call system requires either the customer number or the telephone number attached to the account)

    Eventually got through to someone who didn't hang up, he listened, and said he would speak to his supervisor.

    Upshot is, they can not (or will not, due to the large outstanding debt) put a temporary halt on the debt agencies application for warrant of entry.

    They say the only way to stop that happening is for the lettings agent to pay the outstanding debt, in full, immediately. They recommend we make a formal complaint to the lettings agent about how they are handling it.

    The person I spoke to said he was sorry he couldnt help more. He is himself a graduate, and said he remembers all to well the difficulties that students face in these situations. He told me to reassure my son and the other tenants that this was not their fault, they did not owe the money, and it would not affect their credit rating for the future.

    So by default, I guess British Gas are getting us/the tenants to exert more pressure on the lettings agent to pay up. So its back to the lettings agent, who have only said 'we will look into it' every time they are contacted about it!

    I will try and post an update when there is an outcome, in case it can help someone else in the future.
    Last edited by lindos90; 10-10-2017 at 2:14 PM.
    • ExtraMask
    • By ExtraMask 10th Oct 17, 9:48 PM
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    ExtraMask
    Upshot is, they can not (or will not, due to the large outstanding debt) put a temporary halt on the debt agencies application for warrant of entry.
    Originally posted by lindos90
    I had a feeling they'd say that, it was worth asking though. Did you give them any contact information or correspondence address for the lettings agent?

    They are right in advising to make a complaint to the lettings agent. They seem like thy're happy enough to collect the rent but not willing to uphold their end of the agreement (utility bills included).

    I'd personally visit the letting agent if it's within a reasonable distance and ask them to sort it there and then. Give them the letters and advise them to contact BG on the number you did today. If the prepayment meters are installed then they'll have to top it up or pay the tenants the agreed utilities allowance or it would mean they're not upholding their side of the tenancy agreement.
    • lindos90
    • By lindos90 11th Oct 17, 6:05 PM
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    lindos90
    Well hallelujah! Lettings agent just let son know that the bill was settled today! What a relief after several days of worry.

    Thank you to everyone who took the time to give very helpful suggestions and advice, it was so helpful!

    In the mean time, I got a land reg search, and found out who owns the property, interestingly they also have a business on the uni campus!

    So, I will keep that information for future reference, if I ever need to fall back on it (hopefully will not need to, but good to know)

    Seems that the threat of a warrant, and then the tenants emailing and calling multiple times, did the trick thank goodness!

    Thanks again for everyones help
    • lindos90
    • By lindos90 11th Oct 17, 6:12 PM
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    lindos90
    I had a feeling they'd say that, it was worth asking though. Did you give them any contact information or correspondence address for the lettings agent?

    They are right in advising to make a complaint to the lettings agent. They seem like thy're happy enough to collect the rent but not willing to uphold their end of the agreement (utility bills included).

    I'd personally visit the letting agent if it's within a reasonable distance and ask them to sort it there and then. Give them the letters and advise them to contact BG on the number you did today. If the prepayment meters are installed then they'll have to top it up or pay the tenants the agreed utilities allowance or it would mean they're not upholding their side of the tenancy agreement.
    Originally posted by ExtraMask
    No, they were not interested in any details about the lettings agent, as I was not the actual customer, they could not update the records, nor put it on file, as I could literally have been 'anyone'.

    He is a fair distance away (about 2 and half hours) so not easy for us to nip into the office, but I think we will do next time we visit, which is in a couple of weeks, thanks for all your help ExtraMask x x
    • D_M_E
    • By D_M_E 11th Oct 17, 7:45 PM
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    D_M_E
    So the agents say they've paid the bill?

    Would not hurt to ring BG and quote the account number and ask BG to confirm if this is the case and that any application for warrant of entry has been stopped.
    • lindos90
    • By lindos90 11th Oct 17, 8:53 PM
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    lindos90
    So the agents say they've paid the bill?

    Would not hurt to ring BG and quote the account number and ask BG to confirm if this is the case and that any application for warrant of entry has been stopped.
    Originally posted by D_M_E
    Call me cynical, but that was my first thought too, maybe they are 'just saying it' like saying 'the cheque is in the post' kind of thing. But they actually contacted him to confirm, not them just saying that when he called them. That gives me a bit more hope.

    Sadly, British Gas would not be able to tell me,if I spoke to someone, as I am not the account holder. When I called them yesterday they were helpful, but unable to give me any information about the account at all. If I called them, I am sure they would not be able to confirm if the bill had been paid, or if the warrant application has been cancelled

    Just going to have to trust the LA are being honest about it for now. Any whiff to the contrary and there will be trouble!

    EDIT...actually, I am wondering now...I do have the customer number (from the debt agency letter) I *think* if I call, one of the options to to check the account balance, if that is automated, maybe I can check that way...mmm.
    Last edited by lindos90; 11-10-2017 at 9:12 PM.
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