Account holder responsible for bills
When a person opens an electricity or gas account in their name, they take responsibility for all future bills.
The account holder should close the account when they move out. Otherwise, they remain responsible for the bills even if they are not living at the property. It can take a few days to close an account so energy providers need notice of a person’s intention to do this — ask your provider how many day’s notice it needs.
Tenants need to contact an energy provider to open an account at the beginning of a tenancy — even if these services are already turned on at the property, this includes properties that have a prepay meter. Accounts can usually be opened over the telephone by calling an energy provider who can require a bond to be paid for a new account. The Powerswitch website shows the various prices of energy companies offering electricity and gas in each area: www.powerswitchg.org.nz. The tenants are then responsible for paying the power accounts. If tenants are using electricity or gas and they don’t open an account, the property may be disconnected. Using electricity or gas when you don’t intend to pay for it is theft.
If the account is in more than one name, each person can be held responsible. It is important to keep account holder details up-to-date, for example, when people move out. Everyone in the household needs to agree on who will be responsible for paying the bills. It is a good idea for people living in shared housing to write down an agreement about how power accounts will be dealt with. The agreement should make it clear whether the rent or board includes power accounts, or if these bills are extra.
If you have any problems with your energy provider, contact them first and explain your situation. You can contact Utilities Disputes at any time for information about the complaint resolution process by calling 0800 223340.
For free and confidential advice and information on this or any other matter visit the Palmerston North Citizens Advice Bureau in Hancock Community House, 77, King St. We are open Monday-Friday from 9am-4.30pm, ring 357 0647 or 0800 367 222. We have a free legal advice service by qualified lawyers most Thursday evenings at 7.30pm, and a JP is available on Tuesdays from noon-2.30pm. No appointment is necessary for these services.