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What are the rules around estimated readings?

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SMIquery
SMIquery Posts: 15 Forumite
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I lived with a roommate who ended his life and was not staying in the property but my belongings were still there.

during this time the heating was left on and I amassed an estimated bill of £1600.

I have since left the property and have been paying £10 a month to Octopus energy.

However, they never did an actual reading and these bills are from 2020.

Every bill is estimated.

I went onto their website and under meter readings it says “Sorry, we did not find any properties associated with your account”.

I spoke to them on the phone and they insisted it was correct until I pointed that out and they couldn’t click some kind of link (or it linked to nothing). They then said they sent an engineer to do a meter reading in September 2021 but he couldn’t access the property.

The lady said it so smugly and her tone dropped when I said I moved out in July 2021.

they emailed me to send over my tenancy but haven’t replied since I sent it in.

I read online that energy companies cannot charge you for backdated estimated bills. Does anybody know what I should do?
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  • macman
    macman Posts: 53,098 Forumite
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    Whose name was the account in? our sole name? Did you submit a final reading when you left the property? if not, it's impossible to verify what you owe up to the end of your tenancy.
    The supplier is required to read every 2 years, intermediate reads are down to you. 
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • SMIquery
    SMIquery Posts: 15 Forumite
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    macman said:
    Whose name was the account in? our sole name? Did you submit a final reading when you left the property? if not, it's impossible to verify what you owe up to the end of your tenancy.
    The supplier is required to read every 2 years, intermediate reads are down to you. 
    It was just my name and whenever they asked about meter readings I told them they had to speak to landlord because it was a block of flats and I didn’t know how to locate the box they needed, to which they said they would.

    No meter readings were done in the year I was there whatsoever.
  • Robin9
    Robin9 Posts: 12,146 Forumite
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    Did the LL give you a reading to give  to the supplier when you left ?
    Never pay on an estimated bill
  • ariarnia
    ariarnia Posts: 4,225 Forumite
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    edited 6 January 2023 at 7:04PM
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    this is going to be a bit long, sorry. and i'm not trying to be harsh, just setting things out that you might want to think about.

    back billing is complicated (especially if you are or the supplier think you are partly responsible for the problem) but its not as simple as they can't bill you. 

    you would have to query it with the supplier and if your not happy with there answer then you could try taking a complaint to the ombudsman. but the ombudsman will make a ruling based on the evidence presented. so you need to have your argument ready. 

    i expect (and this is not to be mean but to prepare you for what you will have to argue against) the supplier will say you failed to give readings during your tenancy. they couldnt take readings because of the pandemic. that you didn't give a final reading when you moved out. that (i expect) you didn't notify them when you moved out. and that if the property was empty until september then the vacant use would be lower and its a reasonable estemate of use (you might get some discount but maybe only a few weeks worth) 

    then your case. these of the things i think you will need to be prepared to answer (as well as why the points above shouldn't matter) 

    one of the things the ombudsman will consider is that its not the suppliers job to ask your landlord for readings or where the meter is if you are the account holder. you were responsible for the bill so it was your responsibility to find out where your meter was and take readings (at least an opening and closing reading). 

    they will also consider when you became not responsible for the bills and i dont think from what youve written its as simple as you moved out in july. i can see in the OP you said your things were there after you moved out.

    can you tell us when did your tenancy/contract for the property end (if your not sure then some questions might be when did you stop paying rent and collect your things/ when did a new tenant move in/ do you have it in writing that your landlord let you end your tenancy early if your contract was until september)? 

    but the reality is that in my opinion (i could be wrong) its very unlikely you will have the bill completely waved. i'm not going to say no chance (because back billing is complicated) but i think the best you can hope for is a slight reduction based on you saying you moved out a couple of months before they sent the meter reader. and only then if you can show your tenancy ended when you moved out in july and your landlord should have been responsible for the bills. 
    Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. Anne Lamott

    It's amazing how those with a can-do attitude and willingness to 'pitch in and work' get all the luck, isn't it?

    Please consider buying some pet food and giving it to your local food bank collection or animal charity. Animals aren't to blame for the cost of living crisis.
  • Mstty
    Mstty Posts: 4,209 Forumite
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    Whilst taking responsibility for the property and it's energy usage for the period of your contracted tenancy you should have provided a start and end meter reading to your energy supplier(s)

    It doesn't sound like you did and irrespective or someone leaving something on blah blah blah it's your name on the tenancy and bills I presume.

    If you have not got the start and end readings then the energy company is more than entitled to average out the properties energy for records they have not only from you but on record for other custodians and bill you on that basis.

    Anything else and you are looking for a free ride.
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 10,513 Forumite
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    Presumably someone else is now living in the flat so is paying for the energy and presumably that means there is a end date and reading for you and a start for the new tenant.  And presumably it was with the same supplier at least initially so the supplier should be able to tell you what the end reading is.  Or have I missed something?
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • pochase
    pochase Posts: 3,449 Forumite
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    Are you sure that the final reading is estimated?

    Usually the management company would do the reading for the new tenant, and their start reading is your final reading.
  • SMIquery
    SMIquery Posts: 15 Forumite
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    pochase said:
    Are you sure that the final reading is estimated?

    Usually the management company would do the reading for the new tenant, and their start reading is your final reading.
    The only reading that were done and are shown to me are 22nd of July 2020 (just before I moved in) on the first bill, and every bill afterwards says that it’s estimated.
  • ariarnia
    ariarnia Posts: 4,225 Forumite
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    edited 6 January 2023 at 7:34PM
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    SMIquery said:
    pochase said:
    Are you sure that the final reading is estimated?

    Usually the management company would do the reading for the new tenant, and their start reading is your final reading.
    The only reading that were done and are shown to me are 22nd of July 2020 (just before I moved in) on the first bill, and every bill afterwards says that it’s estimated.
    which makes sense. 

    like pochase says the landlord would give the start reading for the new tenant (you). after that it was your responsibility to take readings. 

    but its a good point. if they took a reading before you moved in i would guess they took a reading before the next tenant moved in. so you could contact them and ask them for the reading. then you can send it to your supplier. 

    Brie said:
     And presumably it was with the same supplier at least initially so the supplier should be able to tell you what the end reading is.  Or have I missed something?
    energy customer service people can't just bring up random accounts to check opening balances. they would need the account holders permission (and the op doesn't know who that is im guessing). but if the landlord/management company took over in a void between the op moving out and new tenant moving in then they might have the readings and be willing to give them to the op. 
    Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. Anne Lamott

    It's amazing how those with a can-do attitude and willingness to 'pitch in and work' get all the luck, isn't it?

    Please consider buying some pet food and giving it to your local food bank collection or animal charity. Animals aren't to blame for the cost of living crisis.
  • Mstty
    Mstty Posts: 4,209 Forumite
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    edited 6 January 2023 at 7:39PM
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    For the OP and anyone that wants to get an average usage for their neighbours energy use (naughty naughty)

    https://www.moneysupermarket.com/store/gas-and-electricity/enquiry/

    This may give you a rough idea of the type of bill you may end up with unless you track down the start and end readings👍

    Surprisingly accurate for us
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