Before, During and After the Tenancy: Since the tenant will be paying the bills it is generally up to them to take meter readings and deal with the suppliers. But you also have a right to know that everything is in order: you don’t want to sign off on incorrect data which lumbers you with payments for services used by the tenant. Therefore, before the start of the tenancy take meter readings (with photos) as part of the inventory and get the tenant to sign and date them. Before the tenancy starts, inform the supplier of the upcoming change, provide them with the readings and remind your tenant to do the same. It may even be worth following up with the supplier after the tenant has done this to ensure the correct readings have been given. Do the same thing at the end of the tenancy with the final meter readings. When you do the check out, try to make sure the tenant is present so you can both agree on the readings. Once the tenant has given this to the supplier, do one final check with them to make sure everything is in order.
Changing Supplier: The tenant should be allowed to change supplier if they like. If you try to prevent them from doing so with a clause in the tenancy agreement, it will probably be unenforceable under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. Just make sure that the tenant provides you with all of the new account information!
Prepayment Key or Card Meters: It is illegal to set a prepayment meter at a higher rate in order to repay debts which accrued under a former tenant. I.e. a new tenant cannot be expected to pay off a former tenant’s debts. You will have to get the former tenant to settle the balance. Make sure you and/or the new tenant contact the supplier so they can set up a new account and re-set the meter.
The Green Deal: Landlords can apply for energy efficiency improvements to their property through the Government’s Green Deal. The improvements are paid off through the electricity bills so the cost actually falls on the tenant. But the Golden Rule of the Green Deal is that the repayment charges cannot be more than the savings made from the works (in theory) so the bills should not go up for the tenant. Talk to them about getting involved in the scheme.