Welcome to your new home, now pay up
CABOOLTURE housemates Alex and Dawn received an unexpected notification when they moved into their new rental home almost a month ago.
A reminder notice for a $162 bill from Energy Australia, addressed to 'the occupants', was sent to their Caboolture South address and stated that payment was due by April 28 "to avoid recovery action being implemented".
"We believed it was an out and out scam," Dawn said of their initial reaction to reading the bill, which arrived when they moved in on April 17.
"It's virtually saying pay this, and it's not even addressed to us."
The housemates were particularly unhappy and grew concerned when they received another Energy Australia letter regarding their requirement to pay, and which they described as "threatening", at the beginning of this month.
Dawn called Energy Australia and once the company confirmed that the $162 bill was genuine, she said the operator then "wasn't quite sure how to answer" her questions.
"She got very evasive and said we could take it to the real estate," Dawn said.
"It should be going to whoever was here before."
Dawn and Alex said the house had been vacant for three months before they moved in, and felt as though Energy Australia was waiting for occupants to take care of the unpaid bill.
Credit rating concern
They also expressed concern that someone in a similar situation, who would not be able to afford such a bill, might do so to avoid worry about getting a bad credit rating.
"If someone hasn't got the right faculties, or are impaired, young or elderly and they get this letter... it's not right," Alex said.
An Energy Australia spokeswoman said that as they were the retailer previously responsible for the premises, they were required to bill the site until they're contacted by the new retailer.
"Transferring premises from one retailer to another can take a number of months," the spokeswoman said.
"We were contacted by the new retailer last month and this premises has now been transferred.
"If we do not have the new tenant's details, we will issue a letter addressed 'to the occupant'.
"A new tenant is not responsible for energy used by the previous tenant - they are only liable for the energy consumed from the date their lease begins."
Energy Australia contacted Dawn, who said she was now satisfied and they would not have to pay, about the matter on Friday.
Dawn said she also made suggestions to the company about making their paperwork easier to understand.