Moving in and out: setting up and closing energy and water accounts, comparing offers, ‘dear occupier’ notices and what can go wrong.
It’s important to set up your electricity, gas and water accounts well in advance of moving into a property. Generally, energy and water companies need at least two business days notice before you move so that meter reads and energisation (if applicable) can be arranged. To have electricity connected, make sure the mains switch is in the ‘off’ position.
If you move in and the electricity and/or gas is already on, and you don’t set up your energy accounts, you will be placed onto the ‘standard tariffs’ which are usually more expensive than other energy offers available. Also, you’ll receive letters and/or bills from the energy company that supplied the previous occupant — don’t ignore these letters.
‘Dear Occupier’ letters and bills
If the energy retailer you signed up with doesn’t successfully win the right to bill you, known as the ’billing rights’ to your meter, the retailer that billed the last occupant of your property will start to send out letters and/or bills to your property addressed ’to the occupier’ or ’dear occupier’. It’s important to open these letters and contact the retailer as soon as possible to explain the situation. It’s also important to contact your preferred retailer so that it can work on getting the billing rights to your meter.
What can happen if ‘Dear Occupier’ letters are ignored
If you do not contact the retailer sending the ‘dear occupier’ letters, and provide ‘acceptable identification’ (a customer requirement under the Energy Retail Code), then the retailer can disconnect supply and start debt collection activity. If your electricity or gas has been disconnected, or your water supply restricted, read more in Fact Sheet 8: Energy Disconnection and Water Restriction.
Units and apartments: bulk hot water
If you’re moving into a block of units or an apartment building, the hot water might be supplied through a ‘bulk hot water’ system. Generally, you will need an account for this too. However, you cannot choose the retailer. Read more in Fact Sheet 25: Bulk Hot Water.
Utility Connection Services
When you move into a new property, you may be offered to have the utilities connected by a ’utility connection service’. Some companies provide this service, which may be convenient for some people, however, they do not necessarily compare all available offers.
Comparing energy offers
It’s a good idea to shop around for an energy offer that best suits your budget and needs. The rates charged by retailers differ depending on where you live, so a competitive offer with a retailer in a certain area might not be as competitive in another location with the same retailer. Always read your energy contract to confirm the details and rates are correct.
We recommend that electricity and gas customers use the Victorian Government’s independent energy price and offer comparison service, Victorian Energy Compare. It is free and provides users with the generally available offers for residential and small business customers.
Finding your local water company
You can’t choose your water company as each of Victoria’s water companies are responsible for a specific geographic area. To find your local water company visit the Victorian Government website and type in your address.
What can go wrong with transfers?
Sometimes there are problems with the transfer of your account from your old property to your new property, or with establishing a new account with a new retailer. Some of the common issues include:
- A delay with the transfer.
- The wrong meter is transferred.
- A disconnection of your supply on the wrong date.
- Being billed for a time when you didn’t occupy the property.
Under the Energy Retail Code, if your electricity or gas transfer is delayed, your retailer is required to advise you within five days of becoming aware the transfer has not occurred.
Billed for energy or water charges before you moved in?
If you receive a bill which includes charges for dates before you moved in, contact the company to advise the date you actually moved in. You may need to provide a copy of your lease agreement (if you’re a tenant) or copy of your settlement paperwork (if you’re the owner) to confirm the date you became liable for the energy and water charges.
It’s best to give as much notice as possible to your energy and water companies to arrange the final meter reads and disconnection of supply (if applicable). You must give at least two business days notice. If you don’t organise the final reads before moving out, you may be billed past your move out date. Give your companies your forwarding mailing address so you receive the final bills. If you don’t receive the final bills within a couple of weeks of moving out, ring the companies to follow this up as sometimes things go wrong with finalising accounts. Issues with finalising accounts could result in debt collection activity or worse, a credit default listing.
EWOV’s new Fact Sheet 32 has more information about transfers and what to do if things go wrong.