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There's a lot to think about when you're buying or selling a house, there's a big checklist of things that you have to do, one of those should be your utility bills.

We do commonly get questions about this as to when you should stop utilities, how best to cancel them and even what you should do if you own your house with your utilities when your house is vacant & you're trying to sell it.

If you’re selling your property and are moving out immediately then you will need to contact all of your utility providers to let them know you are moving out and give them a forwarding address.

For gas and electricity, you should inform your suppliers of your final metre reading too so that you don’t get charged any extra once the new owner moves in.

This guide will answer all your questions about handling utilities during the selling process.

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Should you turn off utilities when selling a house?

Hold off on disconnecting your utilities! We all know that moving home involves transferring your utilities, but when you sell a house, it’s important to keep them connected until completion. Disconnecting before you have sold the house, or before the completion date can disrupt viewings and cause issues with the potential buyer (more on that later).

The best time to cancel utilities is the day of, or the day after completion, once the buyer has officially moved in. This ensures a smooth handover and avoids any inconvenience for the new homeowner. 

You will need to notify your supplier at least 48 hours before the completion date to avoid service interruption and provide a final metre reading for accurate billing. 

When should you switch over utilities when selling?

While we recommend cancelling utilities on the day after completion, you can get a head start! Once you’ve exchanged contracts and have a confirmed completion date, here’s how to prepare for a smooth utility switch-over at your new place:

  1. Compare & choose: Research and compare energy providers for your new location. Choose a plan and contact the supplier.

  2. Provide completion date: Inform the new supplier of your completion date. This is when the switch over will take effect.

  3. Notify old supplier: Let your current electricity and gas supplier know you’re moving. Give them at least 48 hours notice.

  4. Final metre readings: Take metre readings at your old property on your move out day. Keep a record of the readings, date and time in case you need to dispute your final bill. 

When should you leave utilities connected while selling?

If you're selling a property, it's important to leave the utilities connected until the completion of the sale. Here are some reasons why:

  • Property inspections: During the selling process, potential buyers may want to inspect the property to ensure that everything is in working order. If the utilities are disconnected, this can make it difficult to conduct these inspections and can potentially delay the sale.

  • Home staging: If you're trying to sell a property, you may want to stage it to make it look more appealing to potential buyers. This can involve using lighting, heating, and appliances to create a welcoming environment. If the utilities are disconnected, this can make it difficult to stage the property effectively.

  • Buyer convenience: Potential buyers often prefer evening or weekend viewings requiring working utilities like lights and heating, otherwise your buyers will be walking around a dark cold house!

  • Smooth transition: Leaving the utilities connected ensures that the buyer can smoothly transition into the property once the sale is complete. This includes having access to heating, lighting, and hot water from day one, which can make the move-in process much easier.

Overall, leaving utilities connected during the selling process in the UK is essential to ensure a smooth and efficient sale, comply with legal requirements, and provide a positive experience for both the buyer and seller.

Is it illegal to leave utilities connected while selling a house?

No, it is not illegal to leave your utilities connected while selling your house, but it is strongly discouraged. This is because potential buyers may want to view the property during evenings or weekends, and having utilities allows them to experience the properties functionality (lighting & appliances) at different times of the day.

Additionally, utilities like heating during winter can prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, which could have the potential to cause dampness or flooding within the house.

Finally, disconnecting utilities can make it difficult for serious buyers to properly inspect the property and it could lead to a less favourable impression. It can also delay the sale while reconnection is arranged.

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Can I cancel utilities before the sale is completed?

While you might be eager to finalise everything, it’s best to wait and cancel utilities after the sale is completed because it can cause unexpected delays, which could affect the speed of your house sale & even risk a chain collapse!

Property transactions can experience delays. Cancelling utilities too early could leave you without power or water if the sale falls through at the last minute. Keeping utilities connected allow for viewings and ensures a smooth transition for the new owner, who can take over accounts on the completion date. 

The new owner likely has a lot on their plate during the transition, leaving utilities connected avoids the additional stress of setting them up immediately. 

In most cases, utility providers won’t physically disconnect services upon cancellation. They’ll simply transfer billing responsibility to the new homeowner on the date you provide.

Contact your suppliers around 48 hours before the completion date to notify them of the change and avoid service interruptions. This ensures a smooth transition for both you and the buyer.

When should you cancel electricity when moving?

Before switching utilities, ensure a smooth handover by providing your electricity supplier with final metre readings as soon as you know your move-out date. You shouldn’t cancel your electricity directly on the day you move out as unexpected delays can happen during the sale process, leaving you without power if you cancel early. 

You should wait until the sale of your house is finalised, with the best time to cancel your electricity being the day after completion. This makes sure there is a smooth handover to the new owner, who can take over the account on that date.

Why are metre readings important?

Clear and accurate metre readings ensure you’re only charged for the electricity you used, and the new owner starts with a fresh bill. Without readings, the supplier might estimate usage, potentially leading to overcharges for you or the new owner.

It’s best to take metre readings on the day you move out and provide them to your supplier as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could be difficult for the utility companies to figure out when your occupancy ended and new occupancy began.

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How do you get water turned on at a new house when selling?

To get water turned on at a new house when selling, you will need to contact the water supplier for the area where the property is located. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Find out who the water supplier is

You can find out the water supplier for the area by visiting the Water UK website or by contacting your local council.

2. Contact the water supplier

Once you know who the water supplier is, contact them to request that the water supply is turned on at the property. You will need to provide the property address and any other relevant details.

3. Set up a new account

If you are the new owner of the property, you will need to set up a new account with the water supplier. They may ask you for personal details and may require a deposit or credit check before setting up the account.

4. Arrange for a metre reading

If the property has been unoccupied for a while, it may be necessary to arrange for a metre reading to determine the amount of water that has been used since the previous occupant left.

5. Confirm the activation

Once the water supply has been activated, confirm with the water supplier that the water is flowing and that there are no issues with the supply.

You should always arrange for the water supply to be turned off when you move out of a property to avoid any unwanted charges. You should also notify the water supplier of your change of address when you move to a new property to avoid any disruption to your water supply.

How do you transfer the electric bill to the new owner?

The process for transferring an electric bill to a new owner may vary depending on the specific electric utility company and their policies. However, here are some general steps that you can follow:

1. Notify the electric utility company of the change in ownership

You will need to contact the electric company and let them know that you are transferring ownership of the property and that the new owner will be responsible for the electric bill.

2. Provide proof of ownership transfer

The electric company may require some documentation to confirm that ownership of the property has been transferred. This could include a copy of the new deed, a letter from the previous owner, or a sales agreement.

3. Provide new owner’s information

The electric company will need the new owner’s contact information, including their name, address, phone number, and email address.

4. Agree on start date and payment method

You and the new owner should agree on the date that the electric bill will be transferred to the new owner and the payment method they will use to pay the bill. For example, the new owner may want to set up automatic payments from their bank account.

5. Finalise the transfer

Once all the details have been worked out, the electric company will finalise the transfer of the electric bill to the new owner.

It's always best to contact your specific electric utility company and ask about their specific process for transferring ownership of an electric bill to a new owner

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How do you cancel utility bills when moving?

Moving house involves transferring utilities to your new address, but cancelling them at your old place requires specific steps. Here’s a closer look at what you should do to stop your bills when moving house:

Energy bills

When you've rang your energy supplier and made them aware of your last date in the property, you may have to sort a few things:

  • Final metre readings:

    Your metre reading is to ensure that your last bill is correct and that you don't get charged for someone else's usage. Make sure you have a copy of this when you leave, a picture is a good way of keeping the evidence.

  • Your moving address:

    They might ask for your address that you are moving to, this will be to forward on your final bill.

  • Owing or being owed money:

    If you owe money, you might need to settle the final bill which you usually have to do within 28 days. If you're in credit, your supplier will refund you.

Water bills

You'll need to get in touch with your water company directly, each water company might have a slightly different procedure so check their website or call them directly.

If you have a water metre, they may require you to supply a reading which should be done on the day you move out.

Broadband bills

Broadband you can cancel as and when you want to, however most of the time you may still be under a contract of 12-24 months.

Often the provider will allow you to take your existing package to your next property, but depending on what infrastructure is already in place in your new property, they may sometimes charge you for installation.

Council tax

Sorting Council tax is often a little trickier, you will need to provide a completion date & the date you will actually be moving out.

You will also if possible have to provide the details of the new owner. The local council may also ask for a forwarding address to send a final bill.

TV licence

You will need to change your address on the licence, which you can do up to three months before you move, if you know the date.

You should aim to be covered as soon as you arrive in the new property, and when transferred over, your licence number will remain the same.

Contents & building insurance

You need to make your contents & building insurance company aware that you are moving and supply them with the date you plan on completing.

You will need to get a new quote for the property you are moving to, as the price will likely be different.

Check direct debits

The last thing that you should do is check your direct debits.

Cancel any of the direct debits for your utilities after you have moved, just to ensure that they can no longer take money from your account, just in case they don't cancel your bills despite your request.

You should keep copies of final metre readings and cancellation confirmations for future reference. Start planning utility transfers for your new address well in advance. You may also wish to consider comparing providers for better deals at your new location.

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How do you switch utilities when moving?

If you are moving to a new home in the UK, you will need to arrange for the utilities to be switched to your name or set up new accounts with different providers if you choose to do so. Here are the steps to follow when switching utilities when moving in the UK:

1. Take metre readings

Before you move out of your current home, take metre readings for gas, electricity, and water. This will ensure that you are only billed for the utilities you have used, and not for any usage after you move out.

2. Notify your current providers

Contact your current utility providers to let them know that you are moving out and provide them with your final metre readings. They will send you a final bill based on the readings, which you should pay as soon as possible.

3. Find new providers

Research and compare different utility providers to find the best deals for your new home. You can use comparison websites to compare prices and services.

4. Contact new providers

Once you have decided on your new providers, contact them to set up new accounts. They may ask you for your personal details and your new address, as well as your metre readings if the property has been occupied before.

5. Confirm the switch

Your new providers will confirm the switch with your old providers to ensure a smooth transition. You should receive confirmation of the switch from both the old and new providers.

6. Set up direct debits

You may need to set up new direct debits for your new utility accounts to ensure that your bills are paid on time.

Remember to keep track of your utility bills and usage, and always notify your providers if you experience any issues or changes to your circumstances.

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What to do with your utilities if the house is vacant?

As a cash house buyer, we see many sellers who move into their new place before their current house sells. This can leave you wondering: what to do about the utilities in your vacant property?

We’ve got you covered. In short, you must keep utilities in place even if the house is on the market, even if it's vacant. Potential buyers visit the property in the evening or may want to see the functionality of something which requires a power source. 

If your house is empty over the winter months then it would be a good idea to continue to heat the property, on and off, in order to make sure the pipes don’t freeze up or condensation builds. 

Similarly, having a porch or living room light on a timer makes the property look lived-in and less at risk of burglary. Nowadays, you’ll be able to use smart technology to power saving light appliances to turn on and off at certain times of the day.

When a buyer wants to go ahead with the purchase of the property then certain surveys and checks need to be done in the property that require functioning utilities.

Only cancel your utilities once your property has been sold, agreed and the buyer has a move-in date organised.

If your property has been on the market for a while and you’re getting tired of paying additional utility bills then we can buy your property off you for a cash sum. We won’t offer you the market value, but we will offer you a fair price and you can complete in a timescale that suits you. Our dedicated team offers advice with no obligation so get in touch today to find out more.

Do you pay gas and electric on empty property?

Generally, if a property is completely empty and no one is using any utilities, there should be no need to pay gas and electric bills. However, this may depend on the specific policies of the utility providers and the location of the property.

In some cases, utility companies may charge a standing charge or a minimum usage charge even if the property is not using any gas or electricity. Additionally, if the property is connected to the gas and electric grid and has access to these services, there may be fees associated with maintaining the connection or the metres.

It is best to check with the relevant utility providers to determine their specific policies and any associated costs for an empty property.

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Is there anything else to consider when switching utilities?

There's a lot to consider when moving in regards to cancelling and changing all the addresses for your utilities, but is there anything else that might slip through the net, or further hints & tips we can give? Here are a few:

  • Redirect your mail

    When you're moving, to ensure you don't miss any bills, you will want to forward your mail to your new address which you can do by the Royal Mail.

  • Move billing online

    You can also avoid missing any bills by asking all the utilities to send you bills online, often through email. Most of them will do this, as there are often incentives to go paperless.

  • Leave details for new occupant

    This is more of a courtesy, but you can leave the details of all your utility suppliers for the new occupant, so they can contact them and provide their billing information.

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If you’re reading this article you are probably getting ready for the exchange of contracts or even completion so we won’t lecture you on why you should be selling with us and not an estate agent. But, just in case you are gazumped or your house sale falls through, here’s just a gentle reminder that we are here to help.

We can keep your house sale moving forward by buying your house for cash in as little as seven days. We will buy your house below market value, but this is in exchange for the speedy sale. We will cover all the legal expenses for our part of the house selling process, and make sure you are looked after at every step. 

If you want to know more about our service, be sure to enter your postcode below for a no-obligation cash offer direct to your inbox.

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Switching utilities when moving: FAQs

How do you transfer utilities to the new owner?

As the property seller, you will need to contact your gas, electricity and water providers before completion and inform of the sale and estimated completion date.

On moving day, you should take a final metre reading for accurate billing until completion and hand these readings to your utility companies. 

How do you transfer utilities from seller to buyer?

As the property seller, notify your utility providers about the sale and completion date, and then arrange final metre readings on moving day. 

You will need to settle any outstanding bills before completion. The new owner will then need to contact the utility companies after completion to set up new accounts.

How do you take metre readings when selling house?

In order to take metre readings when selling house you will need to:

  1. Locate metres: Gas, electricity, and water (usually near the supply points).

  2. Take readings on moving day: Clearly record the numbers displayed on each metre.

  3. Provide readings: Share the readings with your utility companies and the new owner.

  4. Keep records: Take pictures of the readings for reference (optional but helpful in case of disputes).

How do you change name on electricity bill?

In order to change the name on your electricity utility bill, you will need to:

  1. Contact your supplier: Reach out by phone, online, or through their customer portal.

  2. Request name change: Inform them you're the new homeowner and want to transfer the bill to your name.

  3. Provide details: Be prepared to offer proof of identity or completion documents.

  4. Follow instructions: Complete the transfer process as directed by the supplier.

  5. Settle any fees: Pay any outstanding balances associated with the account transfer.

  6. Confirmation: Verify the name change is complete and update relevant records.

Mathew McCorry

If you read my property blog now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you and I will make you read it.