Bills and Budgeting
Bills and budgeting probably aren’t your favourite thing to think about, but put in the time now, and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
There are a lot of things that you’ll need – or simply want – to spend money on. Make sure you factor in day-to-day living costs as well as utility bills, before you start thinking about checking out Bath’s Thermae Spa. Be savvy, work out what your money has to cover, and don’t overstretch yourself on rent.
Things to consider
When you have moved into your house one of the next steps will be to sort out your internet and cable connections. If you’re looking to get a phone line, broadband and digital TV you may wish to have them all as part of a package as it can work out cheaper.
We can’t advise on a particular broadband supplier but we hope these links will help you decide what’s best for you.
- Cable – compare deals on broadband, digital TV and phone price, with help especially for students
- USwitch – compare deals on utility bills, broadband and TV packages
- Broadband Checker – check the availability of broadband providers in your area
- Choose.co.uk – compare deals on a range of services
Remember to get permission from your landlord or letting agency before installing phone, digital TV or broadband. This includes a phone line being installed, a satellite dish being put up or cables being run into the home. If in doubt, always check with your landlord before any work is done.
Students studying full time are exempt from Council Tax. You should make sure the council tax department are aware of this so you don’t receive any bills for payment.
Council tax applies to the property, so if a non-student is living in the same property as other students they will have to pay Council Tax. A sole non-student will be classed as the only occupier, and should be eligible for a single occupier discount of 25%. If more than one non-student is living in a property with other students then the Council Tax for the whole property applies. Even though you may be a student and technically exempt, your non-student housemates may want a contribution towards the payment, so check this out before living with non-students to ensure you’re happy.
On moving out of the property, it may be sensible to notify the council so they can update their records.
We strongly recommend you insure your possessions and there are a number of insurance providers for students so shop around.
Take a second to think about how much you own – you might not think it’s that much, but if you add up the cost of everything you have – laptop, TV, mobile, clothes, it’s probably far more than you think.
You’ll require a TV Licence to watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on TV regardless on what you use to stream this TV.
Please note that it is your responsibility to apply for and obtain a TV licence.
It’s likely you’ll share the bills between your housemates. You should decide how you’ll pay the bills on time and how you’ll deal with a situation arising if one person moves out.
Make sure all tenants' names are on each bill, that way a single tenant won’t be chased for late payments. This also ensures no-one is stranded with the sole responsibility to pay the entire bill.
Shop around on websites such as Which. You won’t necessarily have to remain with the service provider, however, there are often clauses in tenancy agreements which state you must gain permission from your landlord before switching.
You should take meter readings when you first move in and when you move out - ensure they are provided to the utility companies. This should help prevent confusion on who owes what.
It will be your responsibility to notify the utilities provider of the change in occupiers, so it is good practice to take a meter reading and contact the provider on moving into the property and on vacating the property (whether this is before the end of the tenancy agreement or at the end).
When you sign up for a house you’ll pay a deposit but the 2019 Tenant Fees Act has helped ban most letting fees and caps tenancy deposits paid by tenants in the private rented sector in England. Agencies can no longer charge for things like non-refundable registration, viewings and bookings, and general administration fees.
To be safe, before agreeing to a tenancy, make sure you ask the landlord or agent for a list of all the fees included.
From 1 June 2019, the only payments that landlords or letting agents can charge to tenants in relation to new contracts are:
- a refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000, or 6 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or above a refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than 1 week’s rent
- payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
- payments capped at £50 (or reasonably incurred costs, if higher) for the variation, assignment or novation of a tenancy
- payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and Council Tax
- a default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement
Your landlord must put your deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP Tenancy Deposit Protection).