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Students beware: don't get stung by high power bills

Students beware: don't get stung by high power bills

Moving into a new flat? Find the meter and take a pic, says Utilities Disputes Commissioner, Nanette Moreau.

"Signing up with an electricity provider is perhaps one of the least fun parts of setting up a student flat. However, we’d urge you to take a breath, find the meter, and take a photo," says Ms Moreau.

"We’ve seen countless cases over the years of new tenants getting landed with sky-high power bills because previous tenants haven’t properly closed their accounts."

"One group of new tenants, who hadn’t set up an account when they moved in, received a disconnection notice and a very high bill three months later," says Ms Moreau. "They contacted us, and we worked with the tenants and the company. In this particular case the bill was reduced, and a new account was set up."

"We also hear from people who continue to receive power bills long after they’ve left a flat. Getting it right when you open and close your account will save a lot of headaches."

Utilities Disputes has been investigating complaints about electricity and gas providers for 16 years. They urge all new tenants to follow these tips.

Tips for setting up your electricity or gas account:
1. Take a photo of the meter display and make sure you can see the numbers clearly
2. Contact an electricity or gas provider to set up your account. You can compare rates at www.powerswitch.org.nz
3. Agree with your flatmates on how you will pay power bills
4. Read your first bill carefully and contact your company if you have questions
5. When you move out of a flat, take a photo of the meter display and call your provider to close the account.

"The person named as the account holder is responsible for all future bills, so communication is really important," says Ms Moreau. "It’s a good idea for flatmates to agree in writing - a flat email, for example - how you pay power bills. And the account-holder details must be kept up to date, especially when people move out."

For more information see our fact sheet
For information on renting see: www.tenancy.govt.nz
ENDS

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