HALF a million renters could miss out on a £400 cost of living payment because of a loophole that sends cash to landlords. 

The £400 energy bill discount was announced by former chancellor Rishi Sunak in May to help people tackle rising energy bills.

Families will start receiving money off their energy bills from October, with the discount made in six instalments.

It comes as energy bills are set to rocket to as much as £3,616 this winter.

Energy firms are set to administer and distribute the discount directly to their customers.

But tenants whose energy bills are included in their rent or service charge won't get the energy discount directly.

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Instead, they will be at the mercy of their landlord to pass on the cash.

This is because the person who pays the energy bill is the one who gets the rebate.

You'll have the same issue if you pay an "all-in" fee that includes your rent and utilities like water, energy and wifi – you won't be able to get your hands on the money.

Those who live in a park home and pay a pitch fee to the site owner won't see the cash either.

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Tenants rights charity Shelter, warned there is no legal obligation for landlords to pass on this support.

“It is unfair that those at the very sharp end of this crisis could miss out on this much-needed support," Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said.

However, she explained that landlords aren’t allowed to overcharge tenants for the energy they’ve used or make a profit on it.

She said this could be the case if they pocket the government support and continue to charge the same rate for utilities.  

So if your landlord is doing this, they could be breaking the rules.

A spokesperson from the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) also pointed out there will be cases where “bills included” rents have been set without reflecting the recent surge in costs.

Will I be affected?

This depends on whether your energy bills are included in your rent or service charge.

All households with a domestic electricity connection in Great Britain are eligible for the discount.

They will see a discount of £66 applied to their energy bills in October and November, rising to £67 each month from December through to March 2023.

The non-repayable discount will be provided on a monthly basis regardless of whether consumers pay monthly, quarterly or have an associated payment card.

However, the person who benefits, is the person who pays the energy bill.

If you pay the bill, then you will get the rebate.

But if your landlord is paying, they will get the discount.

The crucial thing to look out for is whether your landlord is pocketing the relief, or whether they pass on the saving to you.

Government guidance says that landlords who have a domestic electricity contract with an electricity supplier and then resell the electricity to their tenants based on energy usage, must comply with the maximum resale price rules.

The maximum resale price for electricity is currently set as the same price as that paid by the person reselling it.

So that means your landlord should not be able to charge you more than the amount they paid for energy.

"We expect landlords to pass on the discount received to each tenant," the government said.

Shelter said you should make a note of how much energy you’re using to make sure you aren't being overcharged.

What to do if you think you've been overcharged

If you think your landlord has overcharged you, Citizen's Advice says you should ask them for a copy of the bill and get them to explain how they worked out the charges.

If they’ve charged you more than the maximum resale price, you can ask them to lower the charge to the correct amount or ask them to refund you the difference if you’ve already paid.

In cases where you can’t resolve the dispute, you can try to get the money by bringing a claim against your landlord in the small claims court for the amount you’ve been overcharged plus interest.

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Elsewhere in The Sun we wrote a full list of people who will get £400 cost of living energy payment.

And we also revealed a list of people who won’t get the £400 cost of living payment to help with energy bills.

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