Rights and responsibilities of energy customers

Householders and businesses buying electricity or gas from an authorised energy retailer have a number of legal rights and responsibilities. The main ones are listed here. For a comprehensive list, download the Australian Energy Regulator’s booklet Managing energy services at home.

Energy customer rights

Under the National Energy Customer Framework, energy retailers must:

  • provide fair contracts with clear terms and conditions so customers can understand what is being offered
  • provide details of the key components of an offer when marketing to customers - eg tariffs and associated fees (see Energy price fact sheets)
  • notify customers of changes to their contract, including price
  • allow customers to exit a contract without any penalties within a 10-day cooling-off period after signing up
  • maintain a 'no contact' list so that energy customers can request that salespeople do not visit their homes
  • offer flexible payment options
  • have hardship programs and tell customers about them if they think a customer is having difficulty paying their bills
  • not disconnect a customer who does not pay their bills if they are in a hardship program and meeting the agreed terms of the program, or meeting an agreed payment plan, or have agreed to repay the amount owing and it's less than $300
  • provide information about how customers can resolve problems with their energy service
  • advise customers about the availability of government funded energy rebates, concessions or relief schemes.

Retailers must do their best to read electricity and/or gas meters as frequently as is required to prepare bills, but at least once every 12 months.

The retailer must provide the customer with a bill at least once every three months unless the customer has agreed to a different arrangement in their contract with the retailer.

Energy customer responsibilities

To help ensure retailers can supply energy to a home, householders must:

  • establish an energy account when moving into a property
  • notify their retailer as soon as practicable if they are eligible for an energy bill concession
  • contact their retailer as soon as possible if they can’t make a bill payment by the due date
  • provide clear and safe access to the electricity and gas meters at the property.
  • tell their retailer if they change the way they use energy, for example, if they start running a business from home
  • provide confirmation from a medical practitioner to their retailer or distributor as soon as possible if someone at the property requires life-support equipment.

Information for renters

Connecting to energy services is usually the tenant’s responsibility, and accounts will be in the tenant’s name.

In some instances, the landlord may keep the energy services in their own name and either include a set amount in the rental payment or pass costs on to tenants. Such arrangements should be clearly stated in the tenancy agreement. This is known as on-selling and tenants have rights and responsibilities.

If you are a tenant and are offered this arrangement by your landlord, you can instead choose to connect with an authorised energy retailer of your choice. If you do this, you may have to pay costs associated with installing, maintaining and using meters and other necessary equipment.

If your landlord is on-selling, they can't charge you more than the local retailer would under their standing offer. The local retailer in South Australia for electricity is AGL and for gas is Origin Energy.

Your landlord must:

  • notify you about any price changes as soon as practicable, and no later than the bill in which the rise occurs
  • only charge fees that reflect their reasonable costs
  • provide you with clear and transparent contracts with all terms and conditions, tariffs, fees and charges included
  • provide you with a bill at least once every three months that shows costs and energy used and provides at least 13 days for payment
  • provide receipts for payment of electricity separate to rent and other payments.

If you're eligible for any relevant concessions and rebates, the landlord must apply these to your bill.

If you're having difficulty paying the bill, your landlord must provide flexible payment options, such as a payment plan, if you request one. Your landlord can't disconnect you if you are on a payment plan and are adhering to its terms.

If you don’t pay your bills, your landlord must provide you with a reminder notice and a disconnection warning notice before your energy service can be disconnected - see Connections and disconnections for more information.

If the energy supply to your property is disconnected due to the account holder’s failure to pay, you should contact your landlord or account holder. If your landlord does not respond or rectify the issue, contact the Tenants Information and Advocacy Service.

If you can’t agree to a suitable solution with your landlord, contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman SA.

Solar feed-in tariffs

If the property is eligible for a solar feed-in tariff, it's paid to the electricity account holder at the property. If the electricity account is in the landlord’s name, the tariff will be credited to the landlord. If the tenant arranges a contract with the retailer, the tariff will be credited to the tenant’s account.

Accessing electricity and gas meters

Landlords should ensure tenants have safe access to electricity and gas meters. If the meter box is locked, the tenant should be given keys. Tenants may also need to provide keys to the energy retailer so the meter can be read.

If a landlord refuses access, contact Consumer and Business Services.

Problems with energy supply in rental properties

The property owner is responsible for all private gas pipes and electrical wiring at the property, and in line with the Residential Tenancies Act, should ensure services are supplied safely and fixed appliances are in proper working order - eg maintaining built-in gas heaters or storage water systems in line with the manufacturer’s service schedule.

Tenants who discover leaks at their property should report them to the landlord, property manager or, for public housing, Housing SA.

Owners of community housing properties may not be responsible for repairing or replacing a number of appliances, including air conditioners, ceiling fans, room heaters and water pumps. Contact Consumer and Business Services for more information.

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Page last updated 23 May 2022

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