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ARMA urges revision of ‘leaseholder-penalising’ energy code | 4 May 2012

Leaseholders and residential managing agents have expressed concerns that an energy code has failed to offer protection against back-dated bills, thisisdevon.co.uk reports.

Mistakes made by energy companies, such as the mis-reading of meters, are resulting in costly demands for payment being sent to those living in communal buildings or their agents. One block of flats, according to the publication was sent a bill for £50,000 due to a supplier’s inability to correctly read the meter.

Homeowners are protected by such blunders under a code of practice set up by the Energy Retail Association (ERA), now operating under Energy UK following a merger, in which liability sits with the energy supplier.

However, those living in or running leasehold residences are penalised as regulator, Ofcom, deems them ‘commercial enterprises’. Residents can thus be treated like business customers and charged commercial tariffs going back six years. Although the error is made by the supplier, instant payment can be demanded.

Consequently, the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) is calling for the existing code of practice to include a provision for micro-businesses – which would cover leaseholders and residential agents – and is urging energy suppliers to introduce fairer repayment plans.

ARMA chairman, Peter Dening, said via arma.org.uk: “We are very disappointed that the ERA has not going further to protect leaseholders from the disastrous effects of backbilling.

“ARMA has campaigned for the Code of Practice so that energy companies will treat the communal areas to blocks of flats like the domestic premises they are. At a time when many families are struggling with fuel poverty, it is simply not fair that flat owners could still be billed for charges going back five years.”

Written by Elizabeth Smythe on behalf of Qube Global Software

While posted by Qube Global Software all views expressed are not necessarily those of the company. All facts are verified where possible directly by the author.

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