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Found a flat? Find your meter - Utilities Disputes Commissioner

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Congratulations on finding a flat! It’s now time to find your meter and take a photo, says Utilities Disputes Commissioner, Nanette Moreau.

"The mission of finding, and settling into, a flat is not easy in today’s rental market," says Ms Moreau. "But the job isn’t over until you sort your utilities bills."

Utilities Disputes has provided a free and independent service for complaints about electricity and gas for 18 years. Complaints about power bills, including high bills and ‘back bills’, are the most common issue.

"First, we encourage new renters to find the meter and take a photo of the meter display, before contacting an energy company to set up an account. If you get this right, you could save yourself the headache of a big bill later on," says Ms Moreau, who adds she’s seen some complex flatting cases over the years.

"One group of flatmates, who didn’t set up an account when they moved in, received a huge bill and a disconnection notice three months later," says Ms Moreau. "They contacted us, and we worked with them and the company. In this case, the bill was reduced, and a new account was set up."

Closing an account when you leave a flat is as important as setting up the account.

"We hear from people who continue to receive power bills long after they’ve left a flat, and we hear about people landed with huge power bills belonging to previous tenants, who didn't close their account. Previous tenants' bills are not your responsibility."

Utilities Disputes tips for renters - setting up your electricity or gas account

1. Find the meter and take a photo of the meter display

2. Contact an electricity or gas provider to set up your account. Think about the right plan for your lifestyle - compare plans and rates at: www.powerswitch.org.nz

3. Agree with your flatmates on how you will pay power bills

4. Read your bills carefully and contact your company if you have questions

5. When you move out of a flat, take a photo of the meter display and call your provider to close the account.

"The person named as the account holder is responsible for all future bills, so communication is really important," says Ms Moreau. "It’s a good idea for flatmates to agree in writing - a flat email, for example - how you set up and pay power bills. And the account-holder details must be kept up to date, especially when people move out."

For more information see our fact sheet

For information on renting see: www.tenancy.govt.nz

Contact Utilities Disputes: 0800 22 33 40

www.utilitiesdisputes.co.nz

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