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Orbit tenants complain of huge bills

Residents at an Orbit development in Stratford say they are facing extortionate utility bills having been left in the dark about charges for months.

Residents say they have been hit with large bills (49866221)
Residents say they have been hit with large bills (49866221)

The Herald has received complaints from some residents living at Rosalind Court, including one who recently had a bill of £932 covering six months usage.

They claim that Orbit has previously given no warning of what level the charges would be at the premises and residents are not allowed to switch providers.

Some have said the level of billing makes no sense at a brand new development such as Rosalind Court.

Orbit say they provide an outside company called MySycous with the rates it pays for utilities, who than bill residents based on meter readings at the properties.

Robert Vernon, who lives at the site, said: “The law says the charges have to be reasonable, how is it reasonable to charge residents so much in a brand new building, with fantastic insulation and new boilers. It’s more than they would be charged if they were living in a drafty old flat in Birmingham it’s extortionate.

“Orbit don’t tell you what the charge is per kilowatt on the bills, every other energy supplier puts that on the top of their bills, it’s ridiculous.

“My understanding is that MySycous just do the administration, they do what Orbit tell them to do.”

Fellow resident Lisa Phillips added: “I’ve had a bill for just under £900 for six months usage, which is very high for someone on low income. I simply can’t pay that so they’ve said my bills will now be between £230-£280 per month to pay it back going forward, It puts me in the position where I have to decide either to eat or to pay these bills.

“Orbit have not been transparent at all, I moved in last August and I have been asking what the bills will be, but I’ve not heard anything until now. Everybody here is experiencing the same thing.”

Francis Burrows, director of support and service development at Orbit, said: “The utilities for Rosalind Court enter through a central point and are then provided to each resident as required, with usage metered on an apartment-by-apartment basis. This is undertaken by a third party company who also bill residents on our behalf.

“These bills are based on the charges that we received from our suppliers and we are bound by the Maximum Resale Price (MRP) rule, which means we can only recharge the costs that we incur from our suppliers.

“Unfortunately, owing to the nature of this arrangement, customers are unable to switch to their own provider, but we are investigating the level of billing with MySycous to ensure that the backdated charges are correct for each customer.”

An Orbit spokesperson added: “Each customer received a welcome letter from Sycous which set out the standing charges and usage charges for each of the utilities, however we are exploring with Sycous why this isn't showing on their bills. We have also asked Sycous for the readings and the billing for each property so that we can interrogate this information to see why we have the peaks for certain properties.”

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