Why is this important?
You're struggling to pay your heating oil bills
This page explains what you can do if you’re struggling to pay your heating oil bills.
Suppliers of heating oil are not regulated in the same way as gas and electricity suppliers. This means they don't have to help you if you are having trouble paying for your oil. However, there are still steps you can take if you are struggling to pay for your heating oil.
Try negotiating with your supplier
Debts to your oil supplier should be treated as priority or urgent debts. If you're in debt to your oil supplier, it’s important to keep in contact with them. This can be worrying but if they don’t know you’re having financial difficulties, they’ll assume you don’t want to pay. They may start taking action against you.
Contact the company to explain the situation and explain why you are in debt. Make a note of all telephone calls, letters and meetings, including the name of the person you spoke to and what you agreed.
If you can’t re-pay the debt straight away, ask for more time, such as 14 or 28 days, while you get advice and work out your budget. You could also ask if you can arrange a payment plan to pay what you owe in instalments.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you negotiate your re-payments and work out your budget if you’re having problems getting the supplier to agree to this.
If you can’t afford to pay anything to your oil supplier and your situation isn’t likely to get better, you should get advice straight away. An adviser will be able to help you work out what is the best thing to do in your situation. Tell the supplier that you are getting advice and will contact them as soon as you can. Ask them to stop further action for a few weeks while you get advice.
If your supplier threatens court action
If your supplier threatens court action, contact them straight away. Ask them not to take any further action for two weeks, so you can work out an offer. If they have already begun court action, you may still be able to reach an agreement to stop the action.
Can your supplier take oil out of your tank?
If you’re in debt to your oil supplier, they might tell you they need to take the oil out of your tank. However this is illegal. An oil supplier is not allowed to enter your property without permission and you don't have to allow them onto your property. They can still take you to court for the money.
If your supplier tries to take the oil out of your tank, you should report them to Trading Standards. To do this you'll need to contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline (Consumerline in Northern Ireland). They can refer your complaint on to Trading Standards.
If the supplier has entered your property without your permission, you can also call the police.
- For more information on dealing with debts, see Help with debt.
Other useful information
- To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.
Citizens Advice consumer helpline:
In England, Wales and Scotland, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 08454 04 05 06 Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
To talk to a Welsh-speaking adviser, call 08454 04 05 05
In Northern Ireland, call Consumerline on 0300 123 6262