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Can landlord insist on prepay energy if tenant is responsible for bills?

  • 20-11-2019 10:24pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 2 RGsmith
    Registered User


    After much googling, I was unable to find a clear cut answer on this one. So basically, we've just paid deposit on a rented house, only to be told after the fact that there is a pinergy prepaid meter installed and that we have to use this to pay our energy bill... no information on rates etc.
    It's my understanding that if we're paying the bills, we can choose our own supplier so I'm wondering if we can refuse to use this meter and ask for it to be disconnected/uninstalled? And if we can, who is responsible for paying the costs associated with this?

    I'd prefer to pay by direct debit , which is what we've been doing for previous 2 years in our current place as it's how I prefer to manage my finances and I've heard that prepay usually incurs a higher tariff?

    Does anyone have any experience with this issue or advice on how to resolve it?


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Comments

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,785 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011
    Moderator


    If its the standard one, a Pinergy meter is not even a real prepay meter; its a tack-on and the normal meter is intact so you can change to any other provider and Pinergy will give you a code to turn their unit off - but they may want to remove it eventually. There is a massive standing charge with Pinergy and PrePayPower.

    Modern network prepay electricity meters can be put in to bypass mode and used as a conventional meter also (actually did this last year, a 64 character 'topup code' is generated to do it) also.

    Landlord may be unhappy with you going to a normal supplier on a networks prepay and may refuse to allow a Pinergy unit to be removed, though. Landlords may want a prepay unit after having been burned (or heard of someone who was) when a tenant actually let the power get fully cut off in the past.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,419 ✭✭✭ antix80
    Registered User


    Assuming it's not specified in the lease and the bill's in your name, phone the company and see if they'll switch it for you.

    You would be responsible for the cost of switching it back (i.e leaving it the way you got it)


  • Registered Users Posts: 2 RGsmith
    Registered User


    Thanks for the replies, I'm wondering now if the cost of switching off and then back on again at the end of the lease will be worth it?
    Also, can you please elaborate on "There is a massive standing charge with Pinergy and PrePayPower"??


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,785 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011
    Moderator


    You pay a standing charge to all suppliers, usually in the low cents a day range. The two tack-on meter suppliers standing charges are many multiples of this which increases what you pay in total


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,089 ✭✭✭ Happy4all


    Landlords get left with unpaid bills when tenants leave. See it from their point of view.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,003 ✭✭✭ TheChizler
    Registered User


    Happy4all wrote: »
    Landlords get left with unpaid bills when tenants leave. See it from their point of view.

    How when the bill isn't in their name?


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,785 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011
    Moderator


    Happy4all wrote: »
    Landlords get left with unpaid bills when tenants leave. See it from their point of view.

    They don't - debt is in the tenants name and the new tenant starts at 0 with the moving in reading.

    If a landlord keeps the bills in their name, that's their problem.

    If they have a prepay meter let run empty and keep going down daily as the standing charge applies they are going to have to pay for that though!


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,790 ✭✭✭✭ ted1
    Registered User


    Happy4all wrote: »
    Landlords get left with unpaid bills when tenants leave. See it from their point of view.

    Fake news, when a tenant moves they set up their own account. When they move out the landlord take a final Meter reading and transfers back to his name. Any outstanding money is between the utility and tenant.

    With prepay the new tenant ca get hit with back charges.

    If the house is empty for a period and the meter not topped up , when the new tenant tops up he is left paying the standing charge owed for the empty period


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 17,643 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Graham
    Moderator


    RGsmith wrote: »
    Thanks for the replies, I'm wondering now if the cost of switching off and then back on again at the end of the lease will be worth it?
    Also, can you please elaborate on "There is a massive standing charge with Pinergy and PrePayPower"??

    Use one of the price comparison websites to check the difference.

    Based on average household comsumption you could be looking at paying almost €400 more over the course of a year.

    Prepay is probably the most expensive way of buying electricity unless you're having duracell batteries delivered by private butlers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 283 ✭✭ jomalone14
    Registered User


    L1011 wrote: »
    They don't - debt is in the tenants name and the new tenant starts at 0 with the moving in reading.

    Really?? And what happens in the case of a tenant racking up such a bill that the utility provider disconnects the utility? Who pays for reconnecting that utility once the tenant has done a runner?? Yes, the landlord.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 115 ✭✭ Chelle_C
    Registered User


    I work for an energy company and we have many landlords installing prepayment meters.

    This is to avoid tenants running up debt and the gas company disconnecting the meter.
    Yes the debt will remain in the tenants name but the landlord will have to pay a reconnection fee.

    Also, there have been instances where the gas engineer cannot obtain access to disconnect the gas meter.
    In this situation, we can request street isolation which basically means we obtain a license and dig up the pipes outside.
    The cost for this is very high, hundreds of euro and again it will be the landlord that suffers financially.

    If a new tenant moves into a property and wants a pre payment meter removed, it costs almost €200 and we also require written permission from the landlord.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,003 ✭✭✭ TheChizler
    Registered User


    jomalone14 wrote: »
    Really?? And what happens in the case of a tenant racking up such a bill that the utility provider disconnects the utility? Who pays for reconnecting that utility once the tenant has done a runner?? Yes, the landlord.
    Which is a different matter to bills being run up in the landlord's name which is what the post was in response to.


  • Registered Users Posts: 283 ✭✭ jomalone14
    Registered User


    TheChizler wrote: »
    Which is a different matter to bills being run up in the landlord's name which is what the post was in response to.

    It might be a different matter to what the post was in response to. However, it's the main reason why all these prepay meters are being installed in the first place.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,790 ✭✭✭✭ ted1
    Registered User


    Chelle_C wrote: »
    I work for an energy company and we have many landlords installing prepayment meters.

    This is to avoid tenants running up debt and the gas company disconnecting the meter.
    Yes the debt will remain in the tenants name but the landlord will have to pay a reconnection fee.

    Also, there have been instances where the gas engineer cannot obtain access to disconnect the gas meter.
    In this situation, we can request street isolation which basically means we obtain a license and dig up the pipes outside.
    The cost for this is very high, hundreds of euro and again it will be the landlord that suffers financially.

    If a new tenant moves into a property and wants a pre payment meter removed, it costs almost €200 and we also require written permission from the landlord.

    Is the op not talking about Electricity, do pinergy do gas?

    How many disconnections have there been with sitting tenants?
    Are disconnections not made when the house is empty?
    Is the landlord or future tenants not in the hook for standing service charges if the house is unoccupied, or previous tenant hasn’t topped up?


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,785 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011
    Moderator


    jomalone14 wrote: »
    It might be a different matter to what the post was in response to. However, it's the main reason why all these prepay meters are being installed in the first place.

    Still going to be a hundreds of euro charge if the tenant stops topping up the prepay and their high standing charge keeps going further and further in to the negative.

    It provides a flimsy layer of protection for the landlord against very specific cases but pisses off nearly every tenant.


  • Registered Users Posts: 831 ✭✭✭ GGTrek
    Registered User


    TheChizler wrote: »
    Which is a different matter to bills being run up in the landlord's name which is what the post was in response to.
    What a silly answer. There is actually a serious cost for a landlord if the tenant does not pay the bills, contradicting your original statement.


  • Registered Users Posts: 831 ✭✭✭ GGTrek
    Registered User


    TheChizler wrote: »
    How when the bill isn't in their name?
    Again another silly answer since tenants in bad faith (quite a few out there) never register the bills in their own name, they pay the first few bills to avoid electricity being cut off and when they know it is time to get out, they simply stop paying (the electricity companies take 3 to 6 months before actually cutting off the supply because again the Irish law is protecting the "poor" electricity consumer who "might" be disabled). In order to avoid paying any unpaid bill the landlord will have to loose a ton of time (time is money) to provide solid evidence to the electricity company that the property was occupied by the bad faith tenant and any reconnection charges (could run to hundreds of euros) are paid by the landlord. The only protection against this behaviour is for the landlord to ask for last paid bill before returning any deposit. But then you see the usual snowflake tenants in this forum screaming for their deposits being returned in full immediately at key delivery (:D:D:D they are a real bad joke), while their letting agent and/or landlord want to wait until they see evidence of payment of utility bills before returning deposit.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,775 ✭✭✭ Effects
    Registered User


    GGTrek wrote: »
    while their letting agent and/or landlord want to wait until they see evidence of payment of utility bills before returning deposit.

    Why would they need to see evidence of payment? A final inspection should tell you if the utilities are still connected, and then you just transfer them back to your own name, then give back the deposit.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,759 ✭✭✭ 2Mad2BeMad
    Registered User


    We are with pynergy (not sure the spelling)
    Its in my landlords name we have an account per say though, I mean we have the code to it and signed up online so we can top it up its like made for tenants as we are the name on the account online but the contact belongs to the landlord and they couldn't discuss with us why we were getting charged nearly 50 euro a week (even while we were away for 10days and no ones in the house). Our house is all electric though.
    But we find there rates really high.

    We are hoping to swap to someone else but the landlord told me that it will cost him a 10e per month if i decide to just swap to another company.

    Its his agreement and he signed the contract to have all his apartments use pynergy. So while we are not tied down to use them, it would only upset relationship to switch while he is still in a contract.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,003 ✭✭✭ TheChizler
    Registered User


    GGTrek wrote: »
    What a silly answer. There is actually a serious cost for a landlord if the tenant does not pay the bills, contradicting your original statement.
    Is or could be in very rare cases? It's a bit silly to present an unlikely thing almost as a guaranteed consequence.

    A reconnection fee =/= a bill

    It was pointed out that a landlord is not responsible for a bill incurred by a tenant. That is all. There may be other costs in extreme cases but don't pretend they're the same.

    I'd be interested to know how often in fact the electricity gets disconnected for unpaid bills with a sitting tenant, I'd imagine it's vanishing rare unless your job entails being involved like the poster above.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 831 ✭✭✭ GGTrek
    Registered User


    Effects wrote: »
    Why would they need to see evidence of payment? A final inspection should tell you if the utilities are still connected, and then you just transfer them back to your own name, then give back the deposit.
    aaaRGH I just give up on this forum!:mad: Fine the utilities are still connected, but landlord will not know if the tenant has registered or not and in addition if the metres are in a public place, ESB networks can disconnect afterwards. Sure you can request to see a utility bill after a few months from the start of the tenancy since a decently drafted tenancy agreement should have a clause w.r.t to payments of utilites, but you have no deposit leverage to incentivate the tenant to show you the bill and he/she can just decide to ignore it with almost no consequences. Of course the vast majority of tenants will pay their bills and follow the tenancy agreement, but the other small minority (the bad faith ones, who I guarantee you are out there) will try to hide as much as possible until the very end.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,790 ✭✭✭✭ ted1
    Registered User


    GGTrek wrote: »
    Again another silly answer since tenants in bad faith (quite a few out there) never register the bills in their own name, they pay the first few bills to avoid electricity being cut off and when they know it is time to get out, they simply stop paying (the electricity companies take 3 to 6 months before actually cutting off the supply because again the Irish law is protecting the "poor" electricity consumer who "might" be disabled). In order to avoid paying any unpaid bill the landlord will have to loose a ton of time (time is money) to provide solid evidence to the electricity company that the property was occupied by the bad faith tenant and any reconnection charges (could run to hundreds of euros) are paid by the landlord. The only protection against this behaviour is for the landlord to ask for last paid bill before returning any deposit. But then you see the usual snowflake tenants in this forum screaming for their deposits being returned in full immediately at key delivery (:D:D:D they are a real bad joke), while their letting agent and/or landlord want to wait until they see evidence of payment of utility bills before returning deposit.

    So when you do your check , you make sure Thea that the utilities work and aren’t cut off. If they are you retain the deposit till it’s reconnected. Or get it reconnected, retain the amount it cost and give them the receipt , it doesn’t take a lot of time.

    The landlords don’t need to see proof of payment they just need to transfer the working utilities to their name


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,790 ✭✭✭✭ ted1
    Registered User


    2Mad2BeMad wrote: »
    online but the contact belongs to the landlord and they couldn't discuss with us why we were getting charged nearly 50 euro a week (even while we were away for 10days and no ones in the house). Our house is all electric though.
    But we find there rates really high.

    The standing charge is 39.88 a day
    +PSO LEVY 10.6 a day+ prepayment service charge 37.46

    So that’s 87.94* cents a day before you use electricity. Which is €6.159 a week.

    If the house was empty or not topped up for a month before you moved in, then there was a charge of 26.38 which you could be paying aswell. More if it was empty longer or emergency credit used

    That’s why you should use a regular supplier

    *rural rates are €1.01 a day.


  • Registered Users Posts: 124 ✭✭ lobbylad
    Registered User


    2Mad2BeMad wrote: »
    We are with pynergy (not sure the spelling)
    Its in my landlords name we have an account per say though, I mean we have the code to it and signed up online so we can top it up its like made for tenants as we are the name on the account online but the contact belongs to the landlord and they couldn't discuss with us why we were getting charged nearly 50 euro a week (even while we were away for 10days and no ones in the house). Our house is all electric though.
    But we find there rates really high.

    We are hoping to swap to someone else but the landlord told me that it will cost him a 10e per month if i decide to just swap to another company.

    Its his agreement and he signed the contract to have all his apartments use pynergy. So while we are not tied down to use them, it would only upset relationship to switch while he is still in a contract.

    Yes, pinergy is one of the more expensive suppliers.

    No, unless its specifically stated in your lease, then you are not obliged to stay with pinergy. If you have your own MPRN, then you can contact and switch to any supplier, Pinergy will provide a code to put their meter into "bypass mode" once they receive a "Customer Loss" notice from ESB Networks. When you leave its then up to the landlord to put it back into "prepay mode" with Pinergy if required.

    UNLESS: there may only be one actual ESB meter within the property, and Pinergy has installed individual meters in each apartment. If this is the case, then unfortunately you are stuck with Pinergy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 831 ✭✭✭ GGTrek
    Registered User


    TheChizler wrote: »
    Is or could be in very rare cases? It's a bit silly to present an unlikely thing almost as a guaranteed consequence.

    A reconnection fee =/= a bill

    It was pointed out that a landlord is not responsible for a bill incurred by a tenant. That is all. There may be other costs in extreme cases but don't pretend they're the same.

    I'd be interested to know how often in fact the electricity gets disconnected for unpaid bills with a sitting tenant, I'd imagine it's vanishing rare unless your job entails being involved like the poster above.


    Over 7 years out of 23 tenancies I only had one tenant who did exactly what I described: not registered with utilities (on purpose), then sublet the flat without authorization at higher rent, then the illegal occupants were not paying the bills because they were not in their names (there was no name on the bills for the flat:pac:), overcrowd the flat (causing damage). Bad faith tenants will cause much more trouble and costs than just unpaid bills, when you get one the amount of breaches skyrockets since they sign the tenancy agreement without any intention of complying with it right from the start.


    Bad faith tenant had already moved outside country (so was unreachable), I had to serve termination notice and start RTB process against him and unknown unlawful occupants (with a serious cost in collecting evidence and huge waste of time which is worth money to me) and the non paying of bills caused Airtricity to call me after around 6 months of outstanding bills because they had already contacted ESB networks to start the cutoff process. Deposit only covered around 80% of my out of pocket expenses (my time of course always worth zilch for RTB jokers!) and I was lucky that the occupants moved out 2 weeks after the RTB hearing (they were better people than the scammer) and the adjudicator clearly telling them in their face at the hearing that he was going to rule that the termination notice was fully valid. The scammer was self employed and was a contractor making good money (good bank account balance, good monthly income) so he passed the reference phase, he probably decided that he had enough of working in Ireland, so he also took personal loans from AIB before doing the runner and I had debt collectors calling at the property looking for him a few months after the occupants left (so the amount of debt must have been substantial) and my new tenants calling me worried about it (yes a scammer leaves his/her bad smell for a long time!)


    It does not matter if only 4-5% of tenants do not pay their bills and behave like scammers, once you have one, the amount of issues cumulates very quickly and the costs skyrocket! It is not just the bill or reconnection issue, a bad faith tenant will cause strong correlation with all sorts of breaches: overcrowding, damage, non payment of rent, ...
    Verifying as soon as possible that the tenant is respecting the rules through inspections, word of mouth from neighbours and verification of bills payments is paramount for a landlord.


    When you have 9 other tenancies running fine, the damage is limited, but for a one property landlord the financial damage would usually be substantial.


  • Registered Users Posts: 126 ✭✭ ggmat799
    Registered User


    You generous landlord will off course use his deposit. You assume tenants are a thug. Why you worry when you have a deposit.

    So that you have peice of mind against 1 in 10 tenants who may do so, you make 100% Tenants pay expensive prepaid bills.

    Grace and Shame are words which matters in life Mr.

    Also it is your duty to safeguard your interests. I cannot trust that deposit amount cannot cover utility bills? WAKE UP MR. I get surprised by mindsets of many LL on this forum. Not every tenant is here to rob you.



  • Registered Users Posts: 77,620 ✭✭✭✭ Victor
    Registered User


    You are likely paying for someone else's electricity as well as your own.



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,036 ✭✭✭ Ray Palmer
    Registered User


    Not every person walking by your house will rob you but you still close and lock the door. Same applies and this would only be one cost of a bad tenant so you protect your self as a landlord.

    Had a tenant who insisted on a prepaid meter and I explained he would have to cover the installation and the fee to uninstall it (few years ago). He insisted and I told him he had to pay up front to do it and he was getting really mad about it because he couldn't afford it but it would save him money by not being cut off. Couldn't get the concept into his head that I was not paying money for something I didn't want because he couldn't keep on top of his bills like an adult. He had a job he just didn't like banks and direct debits.



  • Registered Users Posts: 929 ✭✭✭ Shelli2
    Registered User


    It's very easy for a landlord to ensure tenants have signed up for utility accounts when moving into a property - they literally just ring the provider to ensure it has been done - and again when they tenants leave they call in with a meter reading to move it back into their own name until such a time as new tenants are in place.

    Disconnections - particularly electricity are extremely rare these days (I work for a provider myself and am involved in that department and in arrears collections etc).

    Landlords having to pay re connection fees are the extreme exception to the rule, in fact, in 7 years in my current department I personally have not come across one case - I'm not saying it never happens but that is definitely a good indication of how rare it is - it certainly does not justify forcing tenants into higher prepay rates (and yes there is a big difference).



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  • Registered Users Posts: 547 ✭✭✭ Blue4u


    Tenants run off without paying bills all the time. The reason you don't see disconnections is because the landlord knows the carry on and just pays out of pocket. Cheaper and easier to pay up than deal with ESB etc which can take weeks/months as they are "very busy".

    A tenant can set up with account with everything registered to the house they are living in, if they bunk off without paying rent/bills do you honestly think the landlord will be able to give them a electricity reading for them to settle the bill?

    Also you find a lot of the time the tenant will declare the bill is settled, plus will have a bill to show. Then you check the meter and the readings are all off because they have got estimates for months/years and just paid a chuck off. If you are not careful this is a regular occurance.

    The reason companies like PrePay power was set up was because of all of this, you had Paul O'Chonnell going the rounds at the start with Pinergy explaining it was set up for landlord, not sure if he is still involved in it. That alone will tell you this is a huge market in Ireland, otherwise why would these companies set themselves up?



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