Student accommodation: bills explained
If you don’t have bills included, here’s what you need to think about
November is a popular time to choose a house for next academic year. The simplest way to sort out your bills is to make sure they’re included in the rent. Some agents, Purple Frog included, offer student accommodation with bills included. This will definitely make your life a lot easier when your tenancy starts so I really recommend it.
But for those of you who have already signed for a house without bills included, this handy guide should make setting up bills for your new house a bit less stressful.
Choose a Budget
Firstly, I’d recommend having a discussion with your housemates about how much money you want to/are able to spend on bills. Everyone has different financial situations and it’s worth bearing this in mind whenever you make a group decision.
There are some utilities you won’t have any control over the cost of, for example water is a flat rate based on the house. But, especially for internet, you can have some freedom over your providers and how much it’s going to cost.
If you have a tight budget as a house, then it’s worth looking at comparison sites and shopping around to see who the cheapest provider is at the time.
For some providers it can work out cheaper to bundle utilities, for others it can be cheaper to have them separately, so you should check which is best for you.
If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of having to search for and set up utilities, companies like Glide will help you split the bills between tenants.
Using services such as Glide is a lot less effort than setting bills up for yourself. Each tenant also pays their fair share, which cuts down on arguments. You might have to pay a bit more for this service. You’ll need to balance the overall convenience with how much you’ve set aside for your budget.
In addition to all of this, some providers offer a discount for students that could save you a bit of money and can be worth checking for.
If you use a bill sharing service, each housemate is directly responsible for paying their share of the cost. This means if one of your housemates isn’t up to date with payments, you won’t be out of pocket. It’s also a lot less awkward for the company to send them a reminder email than for you to have to chase them.
If you chose to set up your own bills, then one person in your house will have to pay the utility company directly. This can be made a lot less stressful by immediately having everyone set up standing orders for their share to the bill-payer.
This will also prevent you from having to chase your housemates to pay their share, because no one likes asking for money. You should check how much and when the money is coming out when asking your housemates to set up payments to you.
It’s really important that the first person to move into your house takes both a gas and electric meter reading. Your providers will want to know these details at the start of your tenancy, and it’ll prevent you from being charged for power that the previous tenants have used.
If you take a meter reading on the day you move in, it also gives you the chance to ask your letting agent/landlord where the meters are while they’re there with you. This is a lot easier than searching round all the corners of your house by yourself after the landlord has left.
Overall, the way you set up bills is down to you and your housemates. Whether you want the easy and hassle-free option of choosing a student house with bills included, or paying a third party company to sort it out for you, or save some money by setting it up independently.