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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 19592
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Hi, I rent a house out with a bona fide leasing agency. They

Resolved Question:

Hi, I rent a house out with a bona fide leasing agency. They have been renting this property out now for approx. 6 years to different tenants with legal checks etc.

In 2011 property was being rented by a male person (contract). According to gas company they established meter tampering and sent letters seeking payment of £500 to the tenanted property. The tenant never replied and moved on a short time later (all documented via agency)

Since 2011 this tenant has moved on and a female tenant now resides at the property.

In March 2013 we received a letter from the gas company demanding payment for this £500.

My questions.

1. How did they get my details as I reside at another address. Is this a data protection issue

2.How did they get into the property. Myself and the letting agency had no knowledge of the tampering issue in 2011. Police have checked and they have no records. Should the company have established tenant details when they were in the premises seizing the gas meter, or is possible that they (gas company) gained admission to the property via another means?)

3. Our letting agency has supplied all known details of the tenant at the time of tampering to the gas company

4. Is metre tampering a criminal matter ie criminal damage and should the gas company or ourselves report this matter to the Police.

5. Gas company says no or minimal amount of gas stolen and the cost is for the damaged meter.

6. Are we as owners who legally rent property via a legal letting agency responsible for this debt.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 9 months ago.
You say you rent the property: are you a tenant, subletting, or are you the owner on the land Registry deeds and what is the address for you on the deeds?
Thank you
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

OwnerXXXXX Carrickfergus

Expert:  Stuart J replied 9 months ago.
Assuming that you are the registered owner on the land registry deeds, then that information is public domain as is the fact of your ownership. There are only becomes a data protection issue if someone has released the data however you would have to prove who had given them the address in the first place. Even assuming that it was the letting agent, would then be in breach of the data protection act, the Information Commissioner is unlikely to be the least bit interested. In addition, if it was the letting agent that gave your details out, and the utility company did not have them, utility company could make an application to court to make the agent give your details out.
To be honest, I don’t think the matter of where they got your address from is worth pursuing.
The utility company have a statutory right to enter into the property in an emergency without a court order. I would say that this however was not an emergency but I will tell you that they are adept at making things which are not emergency into an emergency for some spurious reason.
They are actually out to break in an emergency. It would be ludicrous if, in the case of (for example) a gas leak, they were not allowed to break in. Be easy for them to allege leakage if the meter had indeed been tampered with. I honestly don’t think that one is worth pursuing either.
It is an offence to tamper with the meter and it would probably be prosecuted under the theft act of abstracting electricity (in the case of an electric meter) or the theft of gas as in this case. There doesn’t actually have to be any theft, but tampering the meter is attempted theft. They don’t seem to be pursuing that however it appears to be the cost of the damage of the meter.
Whoever caused the damage is responsible for it not the landlord although expect the utility company to cast their nets far and wide to try and get the money off whoever they can get hold of.
If they want £500, and they are convinced that you are liable (which I do not agree with) they are faced with taking you to the Small Claims Court for a judge to decide
does that answer the question?
Can I help further?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

What would be your opinion in this matter, ie pay the amount or challenge in a small claims court.


 


Also ref the information regarding my details my name is XXXXX XXXXX the mortgage details of the rented property, my present address is under my son and partners name and I have no products relating to the gas company.


 


The letting agency assures me no details passed from their department.

Expert:  Stuart J replied 9 months ago.


You have a couple of options.

If you want them off your back, you can tell them that in your
opinion, you are not liable for this so you will consider paying the money to
get rid of them but you reserve the right to sue them in the Small Claims Court
to get the money back on the basis that you paid under duress/pressure/mistake.
Ask them, bearing the above in mind, if they still think you are liable.



Or alternatively, you can tell them that you have been advised
that you are not liable for any damage caused by a third party and that they
should seek the monies from the third party (give the third party's address or
last known address) and that if they still feel that you are liable they should
not write to you again but they should immediately issue Small Claims Court
proceedings which you will defend.



Can I help further?

Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 19592
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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