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Sarabande

Energy companies breaking into home

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I came home today and the energy company, Spark, have used Marstons to pick my locks and change the energy meters.

They left letters for the previous tenant claiming she owes them money.

 

I have been trying to change the supplier since I moved in in November. 
I was told by my electric supplier that it had been done so I assumed that was ok and my gas supplier didn’t understand why the request was being rejected but that it would have it changed by the 21st of this month! 


Where do I stand legally with this?

I have spoken (shouted) to Spark now who are claiming it’s my fault for not opening the previous tenants letters and telling them i’d moved in.

 

I have never had to contact the supplier when moving into a property as I have always contacted my current supplier and moved the account over which is what I did this time too.

 

Did they have a legal right to enter my home?

They are also refusing to change the meters back

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They would have applied for a warrant from Magistrates to force entry to change the meters.

 

The prepay meters will be loaded with the previous tenants debts.

 

If you have arranged your own energy supply with another provider, I would suggest you contact your provider and ask for their assistance in resolving this matter.  They will have industry operation staff, who can liase with Spark and arrange for any necessary work to undertaken.  

 

Your own energy suppliers may be partly at fault, because they should have looked at what was happening with the supply at the addresss. There is a central energy suppliers database, where they can see basic details of supply registration and if there are any problems.  Given you mentioned issues, I would have throught your provider should have contacted Spark to find out what was going on. This may have avoided what has happened.

 

 


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ouch this is rather outrageous.

 

be it spark or marstons, both should have carried out checks to ensure everything involved with their actions were legally acceptable and allowed.

both have poorly let themselves down.

 

it doesn't matter you have changed supplier

it doesn't matter you are the new tenant

someone should have check these basic but very important facts first.

 

could your please email admin@consumeractiongroup.co.uk and give us your personal details and address etc and any account numbers that we can use to identify you to these players.

 

you should at the minimum get everything put back and seek suitable financial  compensation through them.

 

dx

 

 

 

 

 

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please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

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Yes, my initial view is that @unclebulgaria67 is probably right and that because it was a magistrate's warrant, it would be the energy company that would have been in control of the situation directly. Unfortunately this will be much more difficult to deal with then dealing directly with Marston but anyway if you give us your details as requested, we can at least get Outlook from that direction as well.

I'm also wondering about the position of your landlord in this. As you have taken up a tenancy in a particular property then I would have thought that one of the terms of the tenancy would be that you should be entitled to quiet enjoyment. Although the landlord may say that it is not their fault and it is down to the previous tenant, at the end of the day you have a contract with the landlord who has certain responsibilities.

I think we may consider involving the landlord in this as well. You say that there have been letters addressed to the previous tenant. What have you done with those?


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Hi, 

thank you for all your replies.

I will email my details to you. The energy company are calling me later today to deal with the complaint but I don’t really know what to say to them. I’m exceptionally angry atm.

 I’ve spoken to my landlord and letting agent, neither of whom knew anything about it but they’re going to get back to me. 

 

Also I have letters at home for the previous tenant. I haven’t opened them but I guess I should have returned them, I just honestly haven’t got around to it. I get a lot of junk mail and usually recycle it

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Yes, I think that returning the mail would have been a very good idea and you might have avoided this problem. I think that when people look at this, they may point this out to you and I'm not able to disagree with them completely.

I'm not able to advise you to open one of the letters, but if you made the decision to open it, I think people would understand why. If you do decide to open a letter then note the reference number from Marston and include that in the details which you are going to email to us at our admin email address. We haven't received anything from you yet


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Once resolved you might well be looking at some form of compensation from marstons and the previous supplier, but best option to resolve is to follow BankFodder's advice.  Marstons would assume the energyco were correct with the warrant so in a way they are as innocent as you, they merely acted on the Warrant issued by the magistrates Court. Might be GDPR issues if the previous supplier gave third party debt details to you also..


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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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Sorry, but I'm not sure that I agree in this case in respect of obtaining compensation from Marston. They may be acting directly on the instructions of the magistrates warrant which has been obtained by the energy company.

I think we should bring this discussion to an end now until Marston have an opportunity to have a look at it – although I'm still waiting for contact details


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You are correct, it's the supplier that obtained the warrant who should be liable for any losses or damage to the OP.  Marstons are not at fault, they can only do as instructed on the Warrant


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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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Can I ask the energy company to see a copy of the warrant? Does it get issued to the person or the address?

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doesn't really matter.

all you have to prove is your tenancy start date.

 

the energy company and the bailiffs that executed the warrant should have performed a simple basic check that the information on the warrant that was correct, neither did.

 

I don't adhere to the notion that both companies were just following the magistrates orders, so both are not equally to blame..they are!!

 

 

 

 

 

 


please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

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Marstons would assume all was well as magistrates nodded warrant through,  so they will hide behind that. We  will have to wait and see what they come back to BF with, but Spark who got the warrant are in line for a spanking, as if these are Prepay meters, Sarabande will be without energy if she doesn't feed the meters, and her own supplier won't get any of that money, it will be paying down the old Tenant's debt.  multiple issues going forward methinks.


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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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Spark didn’t call me on Saturday to discuss my complaint of course.

 I’m going to speak to who I thought were my suppliers/ my preferred suppliers today to seek their advice and then contact Spark to get my balances from my move in date cleared. 
Apart from that I’m not sure how to proceed. Should I contact Marstons as well? 
I’m reluctant to open any of the previous tenants post, despite having potential cause to do so, as I won’t be able to prove that I hadn’t opened it previously. 
Perhaps I’m paranoid but I’m really quite concerned that they’ve entered my property previously when I’ve not been here. A few weeks ago I came home and all the lights were on and my rug had been moved. 
Also on Friday some things had been moved in the kitchen and some cupboards had been opened (I know this as it doesn’t close properly if you move anything in it).

I can’t now help feeling anxious when I leave the house. Is there a way for me to find out if the previous tenants owe money elsewhere? I’m worried I’ll come home and bailiffs will have removed some of my things to recover her debts. 

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Please do open all letters received for the previous tenants. You are not breaking any law when you do this, as long as you only use any information to resolve issues you are facing with living at the address.  Once you have used the letters to assist you, pass them to the landlord, so they can be forwarded to the previous tenant.

 

Previous tenants letters will provide useful information, such as the Spark account number, meter registration details. So when you are talking to your own energy suppliers, you can provide them with information that will help you resolve this. 

 

Speak to the landlord, if people could be entering the house, while you are not there. Has a previous tenant got a key to a door. The landlord should tell you, if they enter to inspect the property.

 

The other issue you have with not opening letters addressed to previous tenant, is that they could relate to aspects, which cause you further hassle. For example bailiffs, debt collectors chasing debts. If you open the letters at least you can advise companies chasing debts that the debtor does not live at the address.

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Agree with UB, there could be other hidden stuff that might come and bite you from the previous tenant, best forewarned. meanwhile, do as you are doing and contact your chosen supplier to see what if anything they had from Spark.


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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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So here is where things stand at the moment (sorry it's a very long post!):

 

I moved into this property in November.  I contacted both my electric and gas suppliers to change address and get my accounts moved over.

 

Electric - I closed my old account from my previous address, opened a new account for this address, set up a direct debit and requested they become the supplier.  The only thing that was outstanding on the account was a discussion about tariffs. 

 

On 21st November they tried to call me but I didn't answer (judging from the time I was probably driving home from work).  I received a payment from them at the end of November from my previous account (which I clearly didn't check as I thought it was money going out for my direct debit).  I incorrectly assumed the call was about tariffs, which tbh, I'm not really fussed about.

 

Their request to become the supplier was rejected but they didn't follow up on it or try to contact me again.  So I, like an idiot, thought it was all sorted out.  It's only now that I've been through my account that I realise they haven't been taking payments. I have spoken to them since Friday and the above is what they have told me has happened.

 

Gas - I closed my old account and have been trying to get a new account opened since November. 

 

I have had several discussions with them re: the change request being rejected and they didn't know why it was being rejected but to leave it with them.  They told me at the beginning of this month it would be done by the 21st January. 

 

During this phone call they said I could call the current supplier to make sure it goes smoothly but that it wasn't essential as they expected it to be completed by the 21st.  Last week they sent me a final demand for my previous address.  I contacted them to raise a complaint as I thought they were at fault, as I expected it to have been changed as per the above.  

 

I spoke to them on Saturday and have sorted out my final bill and they have advised me to open accounts with the current supplier, Spark, clear them and then I can switch.

 

Interestingly they also told me that Spark went bust in 2018 and it is a company called Ovo who are on the national database as the gas supplier.

 

Spark - This is the company who changed the meters on Friday. 

I have two letters (one for gas, one for electric) that were left with the smart meter they had plugged in in the kitchen, both addressed to the previous tenant. 

 

I obviously did open these on Friday.  Both letters state that they had changed the meters to prepayment meters.  There are several boxes that list current debt, amount of credit on meters etc none of which are filled in.  They also state that a booklet has been left explaining how the smart meter works.  There was no booklet.

 

When I contacted them on Friday they told me that I was in fact on credit meters (I don't know if they changed this remotely when they realised I wasn't the person with the debt).  They also told me they had every right to enter the property and aren't able to check every time who the current occupant is and I should have told them I'd moved in.  I was told that someone would call me at 1pm on Saturday to discuss my complaint, thus far no one has called me.

 

I spoke with citizen's advice yesterday who really weren't much help tbh.  They said I should have contacted the current supplier when I moved in and provided a copy of my tenancy agreement. 

 

I've moved A LOT over the years and have never had to do this.  I have checked several energy supplier websites and they all state to switch to them or move home simply to contact them and they will basically do the rest, not one of them states that you need to call the current supplier... obviously, on reflection I really wish I had!

 

My letting agent/landlord have requested that I take any post for the previous tenant to them and they will return it.  They also want confirmation of what type of meter (prepayment or credit) is now in the house.  The locks were changed when I moved in so only myself, the letting agent and the landlord have a key.  None of us let them in on Friday.

 

 

My next step is to open accounts with Spark/Ovo, clear the balances since November and then change suppliers. 

 

All of the above have advised me to follow Spark's complaint procedure which I will do but as I said above they haven't contacted me so far re: the complaint I made on Friday.

 

Should I also contact Marston's to raise a complaint with them?

 

Whilst in all of this I do appreciate I could have done a fair bit to have made my life easier and probably prevented this happening (hindsight is wonderful!) my main complaint is that neither Spark nor Marston's felt they needed to perform a very simple check and see who actually lives in the property before breaking in. 

 

I cannot for the life of me see how this is acceptable or legal.  Whilst they had the legal right and a warrant to enter the previous tenant's property as far as I am concerned they had no right to enter mine.

 

 

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I've forwarded the details of this to Marston – but I'm not sure that there is much that can be done in the circumstances.

If the energy company had been informed – or if they had reason to know that their customer was no longer at the address then of course obtaining the warrant was outrageous. As it is, it would seem that the previous tenant hadn't informed them and had simply done a runner – and unfortunately you have taken no action to return any mail to the sender so as far as I gather, there is no reason for the energy company to have known what has happened.

Please note that I haven't really looked through this thread very carefully since I originally posted so are not au fait/can't remember all of the details – but that is my sketchy understanding.

If this is the case then, although of course something needs to be sorted out – I have to say that it would have been helpful if you had either opened the mail or returned it. I know that you say that you have never had to do this in the past – but maybe it would be good practice in the future. It could be that in the past you have simply been lucky.

You are talking about clearing the balance of some outstanding debt which belongs to somebody else? This seems to be extraordinary to me – but then I'm afraid I haven't been following the thread very closely


 


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I'm not sure what the form is – would your new suppliers normally have contacted the old supplier to say that there was a change? If you could show that spark should have known that they were no longer dealing with the account holder at the time that they apply for the warrant, then it seems to me that they do bear some culpability.

By the way one of the site team mentioned that at some point Marston would contact me. I'm afraid that's not the way it works. I've now referred the matter to Marston and they may well decide to contact you – the Original Poster for more information or simply to inform you that in the circumstances that there is nothing that they are able to do. I'm afraid it's out of my hands and I never asked for or ever receive any feedback about the references I make to them at this level


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The companies you tried to arrange supplies with, should have told you there was a problem registering account for new address. If they could not contact you by phone, they should have written to you.

 

Had they done this, then this would have been resolved. 

 

Don't bother complaining to Marston's. It is the energy companies that should have done more. 


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I think this is probably correct


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Thank you for all your help and advice, I do appreciate it.

 

I think really I just need to understand why, after going to all the effort of obtaining a warrant, Spark or Marston's wouldn't do a quick check on the electoral register to see who lives here.  If not there seems the potential for them to be breaking into homes without the correct information all the time.  If there were a debt from another previous tenant that I am unaware of then using that logic they could obtain another warrant and enter again could they not?

 

This has left me very upset and shaken and unfortunately echoes the same feelings as being burgled a few years ago.  I really hate the thought of someone I don't know having been in my home when I'm not here.

 

I'll just follow the complaint procedures with the energy companies and see where I get to and try not to shout at Spark when I open the accounts to clear the balance.  The balance I am talking about clearing is mine as Spark tell me they've been supplying the property since November, not either of my preferred suppliers so I have no choice but to give them money.  I really don't feel like giving them anything under the circumstances but I'm certainly not going to do anything to make the situation worse!

 

 

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In terms of Marston – I'm afraid they're just obeying a warrant.

In terms of the energy company – they just don't care about you.

– And I'm sorry to say, in terms of you – I should start making a habit of not storing other people's mail in future – especially when it has been correctly delivered to your address.



Sorry


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 your LL can get them to remove the meters and change the energy company if they want but that needs them to be willing to put some effort in to help you.

Have you asked them?

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