Some renters could be left at the mercy of their landlord when it comes to passing on the benefits of Government cost-of-living support, a housing charity has claimed.
Households are due to receive a £400 discount on their energy bills from this autumn.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Tenants whose energy bills are included in their rent or service charge cannot directly claim the energy discount. Instead, they will be at the mercy of their landlord passing on this much-needed support.
“There’s no specific legal obligation for landlords to pass on this support, but they aren’t allowed to overcharge tenants for the energy they’ve used or make a profit on it.
“This could be the case if they pocket the Government support and continue to charge the same rate for utilities.
“Landlords can only charge for energy used, the standing charge and VAT. So, it’s worth making a note of how much energy you’re using to make sure you’re not paying more than you should.
“It is unfair that those at the very sharp end of this crisis could miss out on this much-needed support.”
A spokesperson from the National Residential Landlords Association pointed out there will also be cases where “bills included” rents have been set without reflecting the recent surge in costs.
The spokesperson said: “In most cases tenants pay their energy bills separately from their rent. As such, they will receive the Government’s support payments directly.
“Where rents include the cost of utilities, and tenants incur the cost of increased energy bills, the savings from the support scheme should be passed on to them.
“However, there will be instances where all-inclusive rents have been set without reflecting higher energy prices.
“The Government needs to ensure that its scheme recognises such cases where it is the landlord who is ultimately paying the cost of increased bills, rather than the tenant.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Government is working hard to ensure as many households as possible receive the £400 benefit of the energy bills support scheme.
“Under Ofgem’s maximum resale price rules, landlords must not make a profit on energy they are reselling and must pass on the £400 discount to their tenants.”