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1. You and your landlord
Most arrangements for payment of gas or electricity are made directly with the supplier. However, some tenants pay for fuel or fuel-related services (such as heating, cooking, lighting or hot water) indirectly through their landlord – ie, the supplier supplies the fuel to the landlord who resells it to you. Frequently a landlord will:
    provide gas or electricity, pay the bill and recover charges from tenants by sharing out costs on a fixed or variable basis; or
    pay the bill and recover charges from tenants by a separate payment system; or
    provide heating from a central boiler and recover charges on a fixed or variable basis.
It can be more economical if your landlord provides fuel-related services – eg, a common boiler in a block of flats may be relatively cheap. However, the involvement of your landlord can lead to disputes over the amounts charged or over your position if your landlord fails to pay the bills.
Think carefully before beginning a dispute with your landlord. Always consider the strength of your position. As a tenant, this means considering how secure the tenancy is. This depends on the type of tenancy you have (protected, statutory, assured, assured shorthold, secure or none of these). A full discussion of security of tenure is outside the scope of this book, but it is an important issue because, for example, if you have no security and start a dispute with your landlord, you could end up losing your home.
More widely, landlords are responsible for the buildings which they rent out, including maintaining their condition and for insulation and energy efficiency measures.
In England, the Deregulation Act 2015 protects private tenants from eviction in retaliation for making requests for repairs or energy efficiency improvements, preventing so-called ’retaliatory evictions’.1s33 DA 2015 amending s215 Housing Act 2004 (tenancy deposit schemes) With council housing, local authorities’ housing and evictions policy must comply with this provision and not penalise you for making an application or complaint.2Humber Landlords Association v Hull City Council [2019] All ER (D) 62 You can make reasonable complaints to your landlord about the property (including common shared parts) without fear that you will be evicted. Examples of the repairs covered include a leak or a problem with the heating. You can also complain about issues that might risk the health or safety of you or your family. You must first make a written complaint to your landlord. If you fail to get an adequate response within 14 days, ask the local authority to pursue the complaint. If you do not have a postal or email address for your landlord and you have made reasonable efforts to contact the landlord, you can still contact the local authority.3s33(4) DA 2015
In some situations, you have a right of appeal to the courts or a tribunal against the decision of a landlord to charge you for the fuel costs for your home or a failure to permit energy efficiency improvement measures being made to the property. The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) hears disputes about rent or payments involving a fuel element, with a further right of appeal to the Upper Tribunal on a point of law.4See Explanatory Leaflet T605, available at In Scotland, a dispute may go to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).
If your employer provides accommodation and deducts costs for fuel from your wages, the basic agreement covering such an arrangement is your contract of employment. A written contract of employment should set out the terms and conditions.5s1 Employment Rights Act 1996 Deductions to cover fuel costs from your wages by your employer may be unlawful if your earnings fall below the minimum wage as a result. The Court of Appeal ruled that deductions made for gas and electricity from wages paid to workers at a holiday resort were unlawful where the wages fell below the minimum wage.6Leisure Employment Services Ltd v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2007] EWCA Civ 92
In Scotland, restrictions on evictions lasting until 31 March 2023 were approved by the Scottish Parliament on 6 October 2022.7Cost of Living Tenancy Protection Act 2022
1     s33 DA 2015 amending s215 Housing Act 2004 (tenancy deposit schemes) »
2     Humber Landlords Association v Hull City Council [2019] All ER (D) 62 »
3     s33(4) DA 2015 »
5     s1 Employment Rights Act 1996 »
6     Leisure Employment Services Ltd v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2007] EWCA Civ 92 »
7     Cost of Living Tenancy Protection Act 2022 »