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Disgruntled Biker

Outstanding Gas Bill not Paid by ex flatmate

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Hi,

 

I moved out of my rented property in August 2009 and due to a mistake by Southern electric my flatmate and I had been under paying for gas and had a bill of £418 at our final reading.

 

After checking this was correct we agreed with Southern electric to pay £105 a month for 4 months.

As we were moving out it was also agreed that I would transfer half the £105 to my flatmates acount each month and she woud pay the full amount.

I have references to this agreement on email between myself and my flatmate however it is in a conversational format over the 4 month period (Me: i have transfered your half of the outstanding gas bill Her: great how many more months are left to pay etc...).

I also have bank statements showing the amounts transfered by me into her account matching those mentioned on the emails.

 

I recieved a call from Southern electric today to inform me the bill was still outstanding and had no payments had been made since July 2009.

My flatmate was responsible for the utilities however as I had to speak to them on occasion and apparently my name was added to the account as a bill payer.

They have now threatened legal action/debt recovery and as my name is on the account this will apply to me aswell.

Can anyone tell me where I stand with this and what courses of action are open to me???

 

Many thank in advance, DB

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If you were both named on the account then you are jointly and severally liable for the bills. That means they can chase either or both of you for the money, and you could end up with a judgement against you for the whole lot.

If your flatmate won't pay up, the only option you would have is to take legal action against her to recover half, so keep all those emails somewhere really safe.

Have you asked her what's happened? However unlikely, it's possible that it's some sort of mistake that can be easily resolved.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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I spoke with her today and apparently her cards was recently cloned and her bank accounts wiped out however this does not explain why she was not making the monthly repayments.

She was struggling to pay her portion of rent and bills when we lived together and now she is renting on her own i suspect she is struggling even more and has spent the money for this bill on living costs.

I have asked to to speak with them to make some kind of payment arrangement as, as far as i am concerned, i have paid her the full amount I owe for this bill and also to have them remove my name from the account as, as she has clearly spent the money i gave her for my share of the bill, it is down to her to sort this out.

I do not know if they will be able to do this and appreciate they will not differentiate between u in terms of seeking payment however does anyone know if I fight it on the basis of being able to prove i made payments to her in good faith in order to pay off this bill?

I did consider legal action against her however knowing the state of her finances i doubt it would be a viable option.

 

DB

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I would certainly argue this point with the energy company, but with the awareness that any arrangement between the account holders is not really their concern. Incidentally, since this is potentially going to 'go legal', don't speak to them on the phone any more - put everything in writing (and send recorded so you have proof of delivery) and if they phone you, refuse to discuss it and insist that they write.

 

If they do issue proceedings, you can put in a defence on the basis that you've paid your share to the flatmate but it may not help and could possibly make things worse. If it becomes obvious that the energy company are going to pursue you, it would be far better to come to some arrangement rather than have the almost inevitable CCJ on your credit file.

You would always have the option to pursue the flatmate if her circumstances ever improved, but there's never any point throwing good money after bad.

 

My usual disclaimer applies. I don't have any legal qualifications and any advice is 'to the best of my knowledge'. There are bound to be threads with similar circumstances on here - I know I've seen some - and it would be wise to check out the advice given on those. Try the tenants forum if you can't find anything in this one.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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From the companies point of view this is a third party dispute. Personally I'd explore a little more how you came to be added to the account because it would've been possilbe to put a note on the account giving you permission to discuss it without adding the name on.

 

If this was done over the phone chances are they won't have the call recording so then I don't see how they can prove you are liable. If you were on a tenancy agreement though you are pretty much stuck with it IMO.


The views I express here are mere speculation based on my experience. I am not qualified nor insured to give legal advice and any action you take will be at your own risk.

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Hi indebtstudent,

 

Basically I was on the tenancy agreement however when we moved in it was agreed I would deal with the rent and landlord and my flatmate would deal with the utilities.

We had a few problems with the gas due to an estimated bill that was extremely high but my flatmate was not good at talking to people over the phone and tended to get fobbed off quite easily.

I tried calling southern electric about this problem and was told thy would only talk to the account holder so my flatmate called up and asked them to add my name as a person authorised to discuss the account.

This was done and I thought that was an end of it until a couple of weeks ago whe they called me about the outstnading bill.

I dont know if they are pulling a fast one and simply contacting me as they have my details on file, any idea what they must provide in order to prove I am liable?

 

Cheers, DB

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"any idea what they must provide in order to prove I am liable?"

 

This is a very good question to which I sadly don't know the answer. Anybody else have any idea?

 

It seems to me asking for someone to be authorized to discuss the account (for example for a friend or perhaps an elderly relative) is entirely different from somebody being added onto the account because that implies they are happy to be liable.

 

In order to add your name on they should have checked this was ok with you as well as your friend.

 

However if you are on the tenancy agreement then I think this leaves you in a difficult spot unless the agreement you alluded to is in there.

 

It sounds to me like they either mis-understood or genuily believed your name needed to be added, but like I say they should have checked this with you. Otherwise I could add anyone I didn't like onto the bill.


The views I express here are mere speculation based on my experience. I am not qualified nor insured to give legal advice and any action you take will be at your own risk.

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