Moving can be a stressful time. Use these tips to help reduce the anxiety and prevent unexpected expense.
- Work out a rental agreement with your landlord before you move into your new rental home
In most apartments, utilities such as water, heat, and garbage collection are part of the rental cost. Electricity is usually the responsibility of renters. In some cases, renters are responsible for other utilities as well. Confirm with your landlord or apartment management company what utility services are included with your rent. Keep in mind some landlords require proof that you have set up your utilities before they let you move in.
- Ask your landlord if the services at your future residence (electricity, natural gas) are currently active
If the services at the property are not active, reconnection may take more time. Call the Regulated Rate Option (RRO) provider in your area at least one week before you take possession to set up services to allow time for the service provider to reconnect the services.
- Ask if your rental residence has a sub-metering (suite metering) system
With a sub-metering system in your residence, you will not have a choice of service provider and will have to buy utilities through a contract arranged by the landlord. More information on sub-metering is located here.
- Contact your utility company in advance to set up services or to schedule transfers
Getting a utility account set up in your name could take as little as a phone call to the utility company. For your new residence, you can sign with the regulated retailer or any of the over 30 competitive retailers in Alberta. Use our Cost Comparison Tool to compare plans and rates to find what company works best for you. If you already have electricity and/or gas in your name, you may be able to transfer accounts from one billing address to another.
- If you need service immediately:
A company offering the Regulated Rate Option (RRO) can set up an account for you right away, or even backdate if required. If you want to switch to a competitive provider at a future date, you can do this after service is set up with the regulated rate provider. A competitive company can take from 10 to 90 days to set up services in your name.
Try to call the utility company at least two weeks before you take possession of your home. New customers will need to provide their full name and contact information (phone number and email), service address, and desired service start date. You may also be asked to provide some type of identification, such as your driver’s licence number.
- If you do not need service immediately:
Choose the retailer you want to bill with and contact them. You can choose either a regulated or competitive retailer. Each company will need different types of information to set up service. Use the Cost Comparison Tool to compare plans and rates to find what company works best for you. Most competitive companies will also need a credit check before setting up service. If you want to change retailers, ask your current service provider about any cancellation fees for ending your contract early.
- Plan for additional fees
The retailer or distributor may request a deposit or connection fees to set up your utilities. When setting up services, ask if you need to pay these fees before service is delivered or if they will be charged on your first statement. Be sure to ask your retailer if it is possible to avoid these fees. Some companies will waive deposits for customers who put their account on automatic monthly withdrawal. Ask about your service provider’s policies for keeping/returning deposits.
- If you are moving to a rural location:
Ask your landlord for your meter number or site ID. Many rural land locations have separate meters for buildings and yard lights. You want to make sure your services are connected to the correct meter and location.
- Watch for your bills
Make sure you are receiving monthly charges for all utilities you are responsible for. If you are not getting bills, contact your retailer as soon as possible. Even if you do not receive your bill, you are still responsible for any late payment penalties.
- You are responsible for utility connection charges
If utility services are disconnected because you did not activate service or for payment reasons, you will be responsible for charges associated with turning services back on.
- Contact your utility companies in advance to close account or to schedule transfers
It is your responsibility to close your utility account with your service provider. If you get your utilities through a regulated retailer, call them a week in advance. Some competitive retailers require up to a 45-day notice. Make sure you have a forwarding address to provide to your retailer for any statements or refunds that may be issued after you move.
- Provide the date to discontinue billing for the utilities to your service provider
This date will be the same as the last day of your rent or lease. For example, if your lease or rental agreement ends on May 31, ask your service provider to stop billing for utilities on May 31, even if you are moving out a few days earlier.
- Give your service provider your new address for forwarding your final utility bill
Expect a final bill within approximately a month of your account end date. Contact your retailer if you did not receive this bill. Non-payment of your utility account balance could lead to collection action even if you have not received your final bill.
- Ask your service provider if you have to pay any cancellation fees
If you get your services from a competitive retailer, you have a contract for your energy plan. You may have to pay cancellation fees for ending this contract early.
- Ask for your deposit to be returned to you
If your service provider is holding a deposit for your account, ask them how and when they will return this money to you.
- If you are moving to a new residence
If you already have electricity and/or gas in your name, you may be able to transfer accounts from one billing address to another with the same service provider. Check if your current provider offers service in the area where you will be living.
- Check if your leases overlap
If you are moving and responsible for two properties at the same time – even for a short period - tell your retailer that there will be an overlap in billing. When you receive your statement for the two properties, it will likely be larger than your usual monthly bill.
For more information on a tenant’s rights and responsibilities, please visit the Service Alberta website or see the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) Handbook for Landlords and Tenants.