Once you have signed for your house, you need to decide what bills are going to have to be paid? There are several you should keep an eye out for
- TV Licence
- TV Cable and Sky
- Council Tax
- Food Essentials
The hassle free way to do household bills is through utilising a platform that can keep track of your household bills and various expenses. There are various services that you can use including Splittable App. Splittable App is a free service to track all your household spending from small expenses like toilet paper and cleaning supplies to rent payments, utilities and more. Another option is a company like BillHub or Split The Bills (links in description), who will setup all your household bills including Gas, Electric, Water, broadband and TV. All the bills can be easily split between housemates and each bill is shown on your account so you know exactly how much you're spending each month.
Some such as the TV License and the Council Tax come as bills usually come as one lump sum and are easily paid off quickly as most people come to university with a decent amount of money from the summer. In most cases you do not have to pay council tax as you are students. See the Council Tax page for further details.
When it comes renting a house, it is very important you stay up to data on these payments. It is best to keep track of exactly when rent payments are due so that no one is left covering the hundreds of £'s their flatmate has not paid. Rent payments can cause a lot of financial stress in peer groups. Tracking on a neutral platform (like Splittable App) can be a huge help for avoiding household arguments.
An extra tip:
If you have any meters in your house for measuring electricity, water or gas, note down the numbers on them on the day you get the keys from the landlord. This means that you are not charged for domestic supplies you have not used.
Previous tenants debts
If a previous tenant has run up debts for anything you should refer the company requesting money to your landlord or agency who should have their contact details on file.
First thing you must do when you receive your keys is read the meter, take a note of it and keep it in a safe place (just because you phone it in does not mean the supplier won't lose it somehow). You need to then find out who supplied the property. You can do this by looking for any welcome letters, asking the landlord/agency, or phoning MPAS. Make contact with them as soon as possible and register all the students in the house for the date your tenancy started (you are liable if your tenancy started in July even if you don't move in until September). It is important you have everyones name on the account as if there are any unpaid bills you don't want to be getting chased for them.
Have a look around and see where you can get the best deal, websites such as Energy Helpline will be able to do a comparison for you. Also note some landlords will not let you change supplier, so check your tenancy agreement. While you are switching or before you switch make sure you are not on a standard tariff, there is nearly always a cheaper tariff available, however you may need to register online for certain tariffs. It is also always cheaper to pay by a monthly direct debit, if you do go this way keep an eye on your monthly payments as they may dramatically increase.
The two most common meters found in a property are a general one rate meter where all usage is charged the same and does not depend on time of day, or there maybe an Economy 7 meter. An Economy 7 meter is a two rate meter which counts your usage in the day and night periods separately, these are most commonly found in all electric properties where there are storage heaters and hot water immersion boilers, these take advantage of a cheaper night rate but do have a slightly more expensive day rate. If possible, when on an Economy 7 meter, try and use heavy usage items during the 'cheap' hours, such as washing machines, tumble dryers etc.
Avoid estimate bills by providing meter readings regularly, at least every 3 months, and most importantly take a meter reading on your last day of tenancy and provide this to your supplier; you don't want to be paying for the next tenants.
See the link for BillHub, doing all the different bills separately is a nightmare, especially if you live with others. They bring all your bills onto one platform, so no more bills through the post.
First of all you need to find out if you are supplied with gas. This should have been made clear to you when you looked around the house
To find who your gas supplier is, contact the National Grid's 'Meter Number Helpline' on 0870 608 1524.
Commonly known as the rates, Water bills are sometimes paid by your landlord as part of your rent. You should check this before you move in. It should be stated in your contract.
In Scotland, water rates are free provided you have registered your student status with the local council. This is usually sorted out in University Halls of residences and only applies when privately renting.
TV Cable and Sky
Cable and Sky are optional, but some people like to have the comforts of sports and movie channels and the main suppliers of broadband (Virgin Media and Sky) offer some very good packages for TV if you get their broadband packages too.
Many student houses do not need a telephone connection unless their internet connection demands it. Just use Skype, if you do loads of call they do an unlimited package as well.
Almost essential in a student house. Ensure you check the contract and do not sign up for a longer than 12 month contract.
The dynamics of food purchase will vary from house to house. You should discuss this matter with housemates, but will most likely purchase most or all of your groceries alone. If housemates choose to share their food and to cook together, all should contribute fairly to the overall food bills.
http://www.splittable.co - Free app and web platform to track and manage the shared expenses with the people you live with.
http://uswitch.com - compare gas, electricity, broadband, tv, home & mobile phone and insurance.
http://moneysupermarket.com - another comparison website! Along with gas, electricity, broadband, tv, home & mobile phone and insurance, you can also compare things relating to travel and loans. (including credit cards, mortgages, payday loans, etc)
http://billhub.io - BillHub is the free, simple and secure way to send, spend and manage your money between housemates.
https://www.splitthebills.co.uk/ - Split The Bills find the cheapest and most reliable suppliers and manage the bill sharing between housemates.
https://www.gethuru.com/ - Huru is the easiest and cheapest way to split utility bills between housemates.