1. Entering your home
The Gas Act 1986 and the Electricity Act 1989 give suppliers and gas transporters certain rights and powers to enter your home. Suppliers do not have any entry rights other than those under the Acts. These rights of entry can only be exercised if:
•you consent; or
•the supplier obtains a warrant from a magistrates’ court (in Scotland the sheriff court, a Justice of the Peace or a magistrate); or
•there is an emergency and to avert danger.
Suppliers emphasise that they will only disconnect your supply as a last resort and where all other measures have failed. However, in practice this is not always the case and some suppliers may seek a warrant to disconnect ahead of adopting alternative ways of addressing the arrears – eg, by arranging Fuel Direct or affordable payment arrangements. Suppliers’ licences also contain conditions requiring them to train their representatives and to ensure that they behave appropriately when visiting your home and not install a prepayment meter if you are psychologically vulnerable and doing so would be severely traumatic.1Condition 28B.1 SLC They are also required to identify the circumstances, needs and characteristics of vulnerable customers and satisfy themselves that their actions are resulting in vulnerable customers being treated fairly.2Condition 0.1 and 0.3(d) SLC Suppliers and their agents should also be aware of paragraphs 70 to 78 of Taking Control of Goods: National Standards (see Appendix 3).3Ministry of Justice, Taking Control of Goods: National Standards, 6 April 2014
These standards are intended for use by all enforcement agents, public and private, and the creditors (in this instance the fuel suppliers) that use their services. This national guidance does not replace local agreements or the legislation, and you should check any codes of practice published by individual suppliers. The standards are not legally binding. They can, however, offer a useful benchmark to determine what you can reasonably expect if suppliers instruct agencies to collect debts on their behalf.