Who is liable for lines work?

Question from Shannon updated on 4th October 2013:

The lines company which manages the power supply (not retail electricity) to my rental property has demanded my contact details and advised that I will be liable for any unpaid lines fees if my tenant fails to pay. They likened this policy to council rates but I don't see this as an accurate comparison as the account is in the tenant's name and all bills are sent directly to him. Are they within their rights to demand liability on my part for an account held in my tenant's name?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) applies only to the relationship between landlords and tenants and does not cover the relationship between a property owner and a lines company. I would suggest you seek independent legal advice from a solicitor or your local community law centre to discuss the lines company’s request.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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