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tbagfish

being chased for unpaid bill...

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I moved out of a flat in February where for the whole year we weren't billed for our gas or electricity. I had written to every company posting mail to old tenants through our door informing them that we were new tenants and therefore needed new bills. We received no correspondence over our gas or electricity bill and assumed that this was being taken care of by the landlord, or that we were to be sent a bill at a later date.

 

Just recently I got a phone call from the gas and electricity company saying that we owed a total of £1800 (?!!!!) for the year, and that as all three of our names were on the bill (the estate agent must have passed our names on) we were all liable to pay the debt.

 

Now, this would be fair enough, if it wasnt for one of my flatmates doing a runner without paying 3 months rent. This is about equivalent to a third of the gas/electricity bill, and I need the gas company to chase him instead as he basically stole money from me (when we had to pay his rent) in the first place and should be made to pay this bill.

 

I fully understand that this is irrelevant to the energy supplier, but I was just wondering if there was any way I could bring him into the equation as it's only just that he pays this bill instead of me being saddled with it. Even if I could get him to pay a third, that would be great and save me the threats of bad credit :(

 

I have no idea how the supplier got my number, and I wasn't previously concerned because the last I heard about this unpaid bill was that it would be forwarded to the address of the flatmate who stole from me.

 

I'm not trying to evade the debt as I know all 3 of us are legally liable, but in the interest of justice, how do I avoid picking up the entire bill when I've already been ripped off?

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What you describe is a third party dispute. The utility company would not be interested; if you wish to pursue this with your former flatmate you would have to chase it up yourself as a separate matter.

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Agree with Zazen, the energy supplier would not get involved.

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Don't want to sound flippant - but maybe you should turn detective and try and trace your ex flatmate. I assume when you state they have done a runner, that means you don't know where they are now?

 

As has already been stated, the electric supplier legally can chase who they wish to for the debt. However, maybe you could ask them to try and chase the disappearing tenant for their share. They don't have to do this but you never know - and they can only say no!

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As I said Calre and Zazen, I am fully aware that it's not the supplier's problem, but in the interest of justice is there anything I can do personally to get money from the missing flatmate? When you say it's a separate matter to get the money from my flatmate - I know this, but how do I go about doing that?

 

He is aware of the situation but doesn't respond to calls or emails, and I don't have his address. I think my only option is to tell the supplier I don't have that amount of money and as I'm actually on income support, I can pay small installments but it's far more worth their while chasing the guy who stole my money as they literally won't be able to get that sum out of me.

 

That's right Matt, but even if I did know where he was, the supplier has chosen to pursue me and so I just don't know what difference it would make. Thanks though...I think the best thing is to explain that because I lost my job they will have a very hard time recovering that debt from me, and so it's in their best interests to chase the disappearing tenant.

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Is there no way of finding out where he lives? A mutual acquaintance? A rough idea of the area? Could be worth checking the electrol roll in the area you think he may be in? any idea where he works even? I would explain to the supplier your circumstances but if you could provide some information for them to pursue him then even better. Unfortunately, if he chooses not to pay, they will still come after you and the other occupant and if it doesnt get paid will be forwarded to a DCA.

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P.S Just to clarify - I am actually on income support. Having read my post back through it seemed as though I was inferring that I would lie to the supplier. Hopefully they can then take affordable repayments

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They know where you are. They will continue to pursue you for the full amount I'm afraid life is Sh!tty sometimes.

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Thanks Clare - sorry for mispelling your name before! I know that his permanent address is in Suffolk, but aside from that I have only his name and an old mobile number which he doesn't pick up. He 'works' as a guitarist in a band that tours Europe quite often so he's not always in the country.

 

Do you think that they would let the debt go to a DCA even if I've explained that I'm on income support and can only afford a certain amount each month?

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didnt come across like that at all, in which case let them know and they can set the debt at a minimum payment and in some cases as low as £3 a week. But as I said, try and get an address for him too. Good luck.

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Can you confirm that you no longer live at the address the bill relates to?

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Thanks Clare - sorry for mispelling your name before! I know that his permanent address is in Suffolk, but aside from that I have only his name and an old mobile number which he doesn't pick up. He 'works' as a guitarist in a band that tours Europe quite often so he's not always in the country.

 

Do you think that they would let the debt go to a DCA even if I've explained that I'm on income support and can only afford a certain amount each month?

 

 

Might be worth checking the electrol then as you may find a forwarding address. You can always give the supplier his number too and explain to them whats going on? Depends on who answers as to who is willing to help, although as Zazen said, they have your address, they will chase you. If you make a payment arrangement with them it is unlikely to go to a DCA. If you do find his address and the supplier wont chase him, could always be worth your while taking him to a small claims court. I believe being on benefits, you may not have to pay, but thats something someone else would be best to advise you on.

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Can you confirm that you no longer live at the address the bill relates to?

 

I don't live at the address anymore no, but the bill is for the time that I was there and so it's fair enough I would have to pay a third. I just don't want to be lumbered with the entire bill!

 

And thanks guys, I'll check the electrol and I guess all I can do is be as honest with the supplier as possible and give them all the information that I have. Unfortunately it's just not in their nature to take pity on people who have been taken advantage of...theyre only interested in the money. That's why I think that if I can convince them it's in their best interests to chase him, they might just do it.

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They will put little to no effort into tracing this person when they have you to pursue.

 

The best repayment deal you could get would come from a county court judge who would rule that you pay no more than you can afford to. Since you are on benefits 50p or £1.00 a month would be all they could get.

 

Any arrangement made with the supplier, or more likely the DCA they assign it to would be less considerate of your financial situation.

 

If you are not concerned about a CCJ sit back and let it go to court.

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I'd really like to avoid a CCJ if possible...do you have any idea how much they would accept as a monthly payment if they know that my income support pays me £200 a month?

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A minimum of £3 a week for each fuel is Eons guidline if that helps.

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A DCA would harass you on an ongoing basis to get as much as possible. That is their nature.

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But I dont think it has gone to a DCA yet has it? So would be best to set an arrangement with the supplier

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I think it would rest on how long a period the supplier would be prepared spread the payments over.

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I really doubt it could have gone to a DCA as the company's first contact with me personally was only a few days ago. Yeah I'd much rather deal with the supplier to avoid extra charges on top of this already ludicrous bill!

 

Yeah I'll just have to explain that to the supplier, and say that if they want the money faster they'll just have to chase the others too, as no matter how much I get threatened, I can't materialise money out of nowhere. Thanks guys :)

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Hi Tbagfish,

 

The first thing I would want to know is if the bill you have been sent is accurate and only for the time you lived at the property.

 

Did you take readings when you moved into the property - the letting agent may have these if you didn't. Also, did you take final readings when you moved out? Again, the agent may have taken them as part of the inventory when you left.

 

In your first post it sounds as if you made them aware that you were new tenants but did they continue to send out bills to the former occupiers of the property - if so the energy company might be trying to bill you for energy used by the previous occupants!! If no bill was sent out, even to the old occupants, you may have a lifeline in the event that the amount being claimed is correct and not estimated readings!!

 

I think, that if bills were being sent out (even in someone elses name) this doesn't apply but, if no bills were sent out after you informed them you had moved into the address then the Billing Code might come into force - they can only backdate the bill for 12 months after they inform you of it. So, if you get a letter in August telling you that you owe from February 2008 until February 2009 then they can only charge you from August 2008 until February 2009 when you moved out of the property - if I am wrong on this (and I could be) then someone will correct me.

 

Also, have they actually ever sent you a bill or has it just been this phone call? If there hasn't been a bill sent out you need one as soon as possible for 2 reasons - to prove the dates they are trying to bill you for and also that there was no outstanding balance on the account from previous bills.

 

Until you have got an accurate bill - not just something stating 'you owe us £xxx' - I would be lothe to make offers of repayment.

 

While you are waiting for bills to be sent to you you can also try to persue the person who did a runner.

 

Hope this info helps - and apologies for the length of the post but my brain is on overtime!!

 

Feebee_71 ;-)

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Sorry about the late response, I've not been around for a couple of weeks! Thanks for all the help.

 

Unfortunately we didn't take readings...it's the first time I've lived anywhere really and my inexperience got the better of me here...I won't be making that mistake again.

 

I've never actually been sent a bill, and the odd thing is that after the one phone call a few weeks ago I haven't heard back from them. I was told they would call me back in a few days so that I could get in contact with my former housemates, but they haven't. They left me no contact number or reference, only said that I would be called back. So at the moment I've assumed that they've realised it's probably not worth asking me for the money...if they've got my phone number it's also entirely possible they've got my NI number and can see I'm on income support. Or maybe they've tracked down the freeloading housemate. Good luck to them as I certainly can't get a response from him.

 

I'm not sure if they were sending bills to the old tenants as we didn't open the old tenants' mail...we returned it all to sender informing them we were new tenants, or disposed of it if it was junk.

 

Thank you so much for helping me out here! It's a bit of a nervy time having not heard from them in 3 weeks, after they told me they would call me ages ago!

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