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legallyblond

British Gas (yet again)

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Hi there,

 

I am new to this forum and the British legal system so please forgive me if I missed a thread which could have answered my questions already and excuse my seemingly odd points of view on this topic.

 

I have an issue with British Gas' Standard Dual Fuel Terms and Conditions, to be more precise the part about the contracting parties.

 

My boyfriend and I have rented a place from a private landlord. The letting agreement states the

The TENANT(S) agree(s) with the LANDLORD:

(...)

3. to pay for all gas, electricity and other utilities at the property

(To my understanding this is an agreement with our landlord solely and nothing british gas could be relying on).

 

The british gas terms and conditions state that:

1.1 You confirm that you own, live in or have responsibility for the property and that it is connected to mains gas or mains electricity (or both).

 

1.2 Your contract will start with us:

 

(a) when you and we agree on the phone that we will supply you;

 

(b) when you sign your contract in the presence of one of our representatives;

 

© when you fill in the form that we give you and post your acceptance of these terms and conditions to us; or

 

(d) for website applications, once you have clicked to agree that you accept these terms and conditions.

--> we never formally entered into a contract with british gas. we do not know whether a contract between our landlord and british gas already exists or at least existed.

 

1.3 If you have not entered into a contract with us in line with clause 1.2, and we already supply the property, we will treat you as if you had agreed to these terms and conditions from the date that:

 

(a) you move into the property;

 

(b) you receive gas or electricity at the property;

 

© your tenants move out of the property (if you are a landlord of the property); or

 

(d) you take or have responsibility for the property.

 

--> if I am not completely mistaken, this clause does not clearly state that the tenant is liable solely or preferably over the landlord. there is no joint liablility implied here imho. As far as I am concerned it says: "we don't care whoever pays as long as it's not us"

 

Now my questions concerning this:

 

1. How can british gas just state in their t&c I entered into a contract with them although I did not know of any obligation and in fact didn't know about their t&c until this afternoon?

 

2. Our landlord agreed with us that he is going to pass on the necessary info for us to enter into an agreement with a gas supplier of our choice. Until he provided us with said information he offered to pay the gas bill. He never supplied any information to us even though we asked him repeatedly to do so. In fact we were not even aware british gas was the gas supplier to our flat. We do not have access to the meters and were never told the meter reading of our move-in day. We didn't even WANT to enter into a contract with british gas. In fact we repeatedly asked our landlord to provide the relevant info for us to be able to cancel the existing account with bg and switch to another provider with more competitive deals.

 

3. Only my boyfriend is contracting party of the letting agreement. I have witnessed my landlord's offer to pay the bills until he provided us with the meter and account info. This offer imho is a binding subsidiary agreement. There is no clause in our letting agreement stating that all side agreements to this contract must be in writing or anything of this sort.

 

4. About a month ago we received an email from british gas which read as follows:

Re: Energy account for xxx

I confirm we have opened the above account in your name, following information sent to us on 26 May 2009 by XYZ Lettings. Your account has been opened from the meter reading 00654 taken on 14 January 2009.

Your first gas bill was issued on 28 May 2009, accounting for gas consumed from 14 January 2009 to the meter reading 01376 taken on 4 April 2009 and left your account in debit by £320.53.

 

--> xyz lettings is not known to us. there is no way for us to check the meter reading taken on January 14th. January 14th is a completely random date to us, we were not contacted on this day in any way or by any of the supposed contracting parties. we were not aware of any meter reading be it in January or April. Also the seems pretty high for 4 months' usage. How are we to know whether those numbers are accurate and whether there is an individual meter to our flat as opposed to one meter for the whole house and if there was an individual meter how do we find out which one belongs to our flat without our landlord telling us?

 

This simply cannot comply with consumer protection laws. Any clue how to deal with this? We already sent a letter to british gas telling them about our internal agreement with our landlord and refusing to be held liable for any costs before the day we received their email and thus were made aware of an account in our names. Answer was to show them our letting agreement or state the meter reading of our move-in date. This most obviously is impossible for us to reconstruct.

 

In case we have to pay british gas, could we claim back the costs from our landlord, i.e. substract those from our last rental payment? Also, insolation of the flat as well as mixer of our shower were so poor we suspect that the rather high energy costs might be due to those facts. Is this a reason to claim back the costs from our landlord as well? (We have repeatedly asked him to have both insolation improved and shower mixer repaired with no reaction from his side).

 

Help is very much appreciated! Sorry for the long and rather confusing post. ;)

Cheers, legallyblond

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May be this should be posted in the "Residential and Commercial Lettings" forum for more specific answers

 

Regards,

John

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Hm, how do I move the thread then? Thanks for the suggestion though.

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