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Connells branch accused of ‘underhand’ energy switching contract clause

Company says tenant's energy was switched in error - despite having previously given her landlord assurances it would not happen.

Nigel Lewis

Ipswich connells energy house

A letting agency in Ipswich has become embroiled in a public argument with a tenant and her landlord after it was discovered that a clause in her tenancy agreement enabled the agency to switch her energy suppliers at the property without consent.

The issue was raised after tenant Joanne, who rents a property from landlords Richard Woolf received higher-than-expected energy bills for her home on Norwich Road in Ipswich (pictured).

After the landlord queried what had happened, the agency who found the tenant and issued the contract – but didn’t manage the property –  William H Brown, which is part of the Connells/Sequence group, said the switch was ‘down to training issues’, apologised and offered the tenant £500 after the story was highlighted by a local newspaper.

But both the tenant and her landlords now want Connells to investigate how such an ‘underhand’ clause was buried within the 67-page tenancy contract issued by William H Brown to the tenant.

No legal basis

The company has already disclosed to the parties that it agrees there is ‘no legal basis’ for the tenant’s data being sent to SSE, the energy supplier involved.

A spokeswoman for Sequence Connells told the Ipswich Star: “The transfer of utilities was an error on our part and we are in the process of resolving the issue”.

The landlord says he was told the clause did not apply to this tenancy because it was a ‘tenant find only’ contract.

But they have now slammed the agency for effectively taking control of the tenant’s energy supplier accounts without her permission.

TPO, which has commented on this issue in the past, says agents should take an ‘opt in’ rather than ‘opt out’ approach and that if unauthorised energy switching becomes a prominent issue within the sector then it will look to explicitly state this as a requirement in its Codes of Practice.

Read more about heating charges.

January 14, 2022

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