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 things on the checklist 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 your house with your utilities when your house is vacant & your 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 meter reading too so that you don’t get charged any extra once the new owner moves in.

In this article we'll dig further into what you should do with your utilities.

When to turn off utilities when selling a house

Moving home means moving all your utilities to your new address and cancelling your old properties utilities, but when is the right time to stop them?

You will need to notify your utility suppliers 48 hours before you move to ensure that they are ready to stop the supply to the property or change it over to the new owner.

You should set your utilities to be cancelled on the day that completion takes place.

Why you should 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:

  • It's required by law: According to UK law, sellers must ensure that all utilities (including gas, electricity, and water) are connected until the completion of the sale. This is to ensure that the buyer has access to essential services during the transition period.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Cancelling electricity when moving

It's important before switching utilities when moving that you ensure you make your suppliers aware & provide them with your meter readings as soon as you are aware that you'll be moving out the property.

If you don't make them aware, it could be tricky for the utility companies to figure out when your occupancy ended and the new occupancy began, meaning you could be over charged for some of the new owners usage or they could be over charged for yours.

Can I cancel utilities before the sale is completed?

We strongly advise only cancelling the utilities when you have a completion date.

Anything can happen between the time a sale is agreed & it's completed, and even at the last hurdle a sale can still unfortunately break down, so you want to ensure that in the worst case scenario you're not left without any power or water.

Most suppliers won't actually shut off the supply, they will leave them on but switch over the billing to the new occupant as of the date you give.

There's a lot for a new occupant to do when they move in, you don't want to add to their list by making them have to sort all their utilities as soon as they walk in the door.

How to cancel utility bills when moving

It's not always quite as simple as calling the utility companies and asking them to flick the switch. Here is a bit of 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 meter readings: Your meter 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 be 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 it's best checking with them. If you have a water meter, 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.

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

In today’s housing market, though, properties don’t always sell quickly. Sometimes sellers move out before the property has actually been sold because their new property is ready and this is where it can become confusing about utility bills.

In short, you must keep utilities in place if your house is still on the market, even if you have moved out. Potential buyers might 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 that 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.

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.

Is there anything else to consider?

There's a lot to consider when moving in regards to cancelling and changing all the address 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 utilties 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.

Switching 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:

Take meter readings
Before you move out of your current home, take meter 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.

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

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.

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 meter readings if the property has been occupied before.

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.

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.

Do you pay gas and electric on an 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 meters.

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

How to get water turned on at 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:

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.

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.

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.

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

  • 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.

It's important to note that 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 to transfer electric bill to 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:

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.

  • 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.

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.

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.

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

It's important to note that 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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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.