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€800 to change name on utilities account?

Hello,

I'm trying to rent in Malta with my family for at least six months.

I've read lots about the debate concerning the Domestic v. the Residential tariff, so when we enquired, the agent told us that

(1) The number of residents would be listed at '0'.
(2) He wouldn't change the bills in our name because 'it costs €800 to change the name.'
(3) 99% of landlords in Malta will list the number of residents at '0' and this is the norm. We are effectively naive to consider that we could be charged at the resident rate despite being resident.


After much debate we walked away (eventually the landlord agreed to do Form H, but I felt that given he had refused twice before only agreeing to do it when we initially walked away that it wasn't a good beginning. It's only a form and might save us quite a lot of money, so I didn't think it should be such a big deal).

I'm just confused because on one hand many forums etc. say 'take a hard line etc.'- obviously I don't have the experience of knowing how easy it is to overcome this. I know that even if the landlord refused I could take Form H to ARMS and try to change the rate myself, but that would likely cause further aggro so I wasn't sure about it.

Sorry, I know this subject is probably beaten to death, but advice on what to do. We are a family of five, with three kids under five, so the difference in cost is likely to be quite substantial given the differences in allowances between '0' and '5' people.

I'm also intrigued by where this agent 'I've been in the business for a long time' gets the €800 figure for. I've had a look at ARMS forms and it seems changing the name on the account is relatively simple - a cost of €4.66!

TLDR: What is the correct attitude to take regarding the utilities tariffs when renting when told various things by agents?

I simply called them, wrote a dozen emails and finally (it took about 3 months) had it changed to 1 resident. My mum owns the flat and I just needed her resident card # to do so. Be firm and insist on the residential rate. Refuse to pay any fee for the change (other than the €4.66 if necessary).

Just to say the €800 figure was provided as how much it cost to change meters which the agent seemed to think was necessary to put the bills into our names. The money was how much ARMS cost for it. I am a bit mystified by this, but maybe there's some context that makes this possible.

That's just not true, it's not the norm, I'd walk away.  You're entitled to the residential rate, it doesn't cost, you just fill in form H.  Our landlord didn't have a clue, he's a first time landlord, so was worried about filling it in at first.  He was under the impression that because the bills were in his name, he'd only be allowed one residential rate for his own home.  When we assured him it wasn't costing him anything, he was happy to take the form in himself.

Cooperfamily :

Just to say the €800 figure was provided as how much it cost to change meters which the agent seemed to think was necessary to put the bills into our names. The money was how much ARMS cost for it. I am a bit mystified by this, but maybe there's some context that makes this possible.

1) There is no context that makes the €800.00 figure possible.

2) In addition, on 10th June, 2016, the European Commission reported as follows:

'.........On 26 May 2016, the Maltese authorities informed the Commission that they aim at introducing changes in the application process for residential tariffs and that "the new process will no longer require the endorsement of the Form H by the landlord or account holder, in the case of an application submitted by the tenant".

The Maltese authorities explained that, as suggested by the European Commission during their contacts, the tenant will only be required to submit a copy of the rental agreement.

These changes should be made effective by the end of October 2016…….'

3) The European Commission added, '…..As to the applications for redress [REFUNDS for water and electricity consumption tariff overcharges] the Commission understands that also tenants are entitled to submit such applications…..’

4) Moreover, ‘…….He (Konrad Mizzi) said that tenants will soon be able to receive water and electricity bills at residential tariffs, without requiring their landlords’ signatures.

“Many tenants are unfortunately being charged higher tariffs, because their landlords hadn’t signed a form to prove that they live in the building,” he said.

“Now tenants will be able to present their lease agreement to ARMS as proof of residence, and hence qualify for residential tariffs. This will close the chapter of unfairness against tenants.”……’

Source:   

http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/natio … 4thhbh97IX

There is little point in changing the account into your name, just use form H and change number of residents.
If you are only looking to do a 6 month lease I would not lose too much sleep over it as the saving is not going to be worth it for such a short period and you can't change it to new premises within 1 year so you would lose out on your next property for 6 months anyway!

Ray

Over a 12 month period, the water and electricity bill differentials - for IDENTICAL water and electricity consumption - between a 'domestic' rated and a 'residential' rated 5 registered person household is almost double.

Assuming average water and electricity consumption for a 5 person household over a 12 month period - as stipulated by ARMS Ltd. itself - the  'domestic' rated bill amounts to €1,083.25 more than the 'residential' rated one according to the ARMS Ltd. bill calculator. 

Sources:

http://maltatenantsupport.weebly.com/up … mestic.png

http://maltatenantsupport.weebly.com/up … ential.png

The financial landscape may be a bit of a nightmare, but getting the bill in your own name establishes residency at the address, which can prove crucial when taking out a bank account with HSBC, although I do not know where other banks stand on this issue.

If you use nominal figures with the ARMS bill calculator of 1000 units of electricity and 20 cu. Meters of water ( We average 600 units and 13 cu Meters for 2 in a 3 bed house) for a 2 month bill period you will get a difference of €123 on the bill between 'Residential tariff' with 5 occupants and 'Domestic' which as ARMS do not list 'domestic' on the calculator they say you should use:-
'Please be advised that if you qualify under the Domestic rate you are to choose the Residential rate and input 0 as ‘number of persons registered’.

So, only if you are on the correct tariff from the start, the saving would be €369 on your 6 months tenancy, but the chances are it will take till the second bill at best to get 5 occupants added so the saving would not be so much. (more trouble than it's worth to try and get a refund).
You would then lose all this saving by not being able to change to 5 occupants on you next property for the first 6 months as you can only change once every 12 months.

Ray

Once you have submitted the completed and signed FORM H and requisite documentation to ARMS Ltd, ensure you receive either a receipt OR written confirmation of its receipt - via e-mail - from them within 24 hours.

Occupant-registered 'Residential' water and electricity consumption tariffs are operative from the day you submit your Form H application to ARMS Ltd. for them.

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