The sub-plot is that the estate agents were supposed to read the electricity meter when they did the inventory and inform the supplier. They are paid to do that by the landlord (who lives abroad). They refused to tell me who the supplier was and insisted it had all been taken care of. It takes 3 months' nagging to get them to send me a copy of the inventory. What do I find? That the meters had NOT been read.
But the main suck is the electricity company. They send a meter reader round in October and shortly after a bill arrives. In my landlord's name (I have his permission to open bills). They have dismissed the meter reader's reading because they believe it to be inaccurate, and sent me an estimated bill. It is a huge. Now, I noted the meter readings the day I moved in - and yes, it is the correct meter - so I know by how much that bill is wrong. I point out the change in occupier, send them the correct figures, but stupidly pay the whole amount they ask for.
December. Another grossly inflated 'estimated' bill, also in my landlord's name. I do exactly the same thing I did in October. This time I follow it up with a phone call, but give up after 15 minutes on hold.
February. The next bill is a heart attack in an envelope. For those three months, they estimate I have used FIVE TIMES the amount of electricity I have actually used in the the six months I have lived there. And it is still addressed to the landlord. This time I stuff an envelope with a photo of the meter, copies of all previous correspondence and meter readings, and a two-page covering letter. No payment. Not until they contact me.
No response yet, either. It's been a fortnight since they should have received the last letter; how long should I wait before complaining to the Ombudsman? Part of me is nervous that the baliffs will come when I'm at work and steal my stuff, but equally I cannot bankrupt myself paying these ever-increasing bills.