A Student’s Guide to Paying Bills
How to split your student household bills
Living in a student house with your friends is one of the best parts of university life. You get to live with the people you always have a laugh with so it’s much easier to relax and feel at home, you’ll have your own washing machine so there’ll be no more lugging your bags of dirty washing around, and more often than not a student house is a lot quieter than university halls. But renting privately comes with the responsibility of bills and you’ll need to work together to make sure these get paid. So here’s a simple guide from Lettuce Lettings on managing your bills as a student.
What bills do you need to pay
There will be a mix of one-off payments and ongoing costs that you will need to consider when you move into your student accommodation. Organise what costs you are likely to incur and budget accordingly. Paying your bills on time is really important and setting up a direct debit is the easiest way to avoid late-payment charges. But there are other options available so you should choose a payment method that suits you.
If as a household you will be watching live TV, you are required to pay for a TV license. The full fee is £147 for the year which can be paid by direct debit. Or you can break down the payments across the year and pay an instalment once a month, or every three months. If you are only watching catch up or subscription services like Netflix, you don’t need a TV license, but you will need to let them know.
This will be your biggest responsibility when living in a student house as you will need to ensure that your utility bills get paid on time. This will include electricity, water and gas which will vary in price at different times of year. It’s important to be aware of how much you are using and be smart about it, work out when you should turn your heating on and off and don’t leave your lights on when no one’s home.
If your student house is occupied by only full-time students you will be exempt from council tax. If you live with someone who isn’t a student, the property will not be exempt and a discounted bill will be issued to whoever is liable to pay.
Let’s face it, what student can live without it! Look for the best broadband deals that cover the amount of data you will use as a household. The market is quite competitive and you don’t necessarily have to switch provider to get a good deal.
Most students will be in possession of a laptop, smartphone and TV as well as a whole host of other gadgets, and combined they are worth a fair bit. So it’s worth considering student contents insurance to cover your back should they get damaged or stolen. Prices can vary so it’s worth doing some research to find the best deal.
Ways to pay your bills
Find the best method to split the bills responsibly and clearly set out who will be paying for what, how and when. If you get this part out of the way as soon as you move in you will avoid squabbling housemates for the next year! Here are some popular ways to do it:
Each housemate pays a certain bill
This is a simple method that gives each a housemate the responsibility of paying one bill; electricity, water, gas or broadband. Every tenant will therefore be in charge of getting the required amount from every housemate into their account each month to pay their bill on time.
Set up a joint bank account
This one is simple in theory. You take out a new bank account for the bills in everyone’s name. Each housemate then puts an equal amount of money in each month and direct debits are set up for all bills to this account. If there are only a couple of you in a house who you trust, this can be a really efficient way to do it. However, there is a risk of this method breaking down should someone stop paying their share. If there are repeated problems, you run the risk in the long term of negatively affecting everyone’s credit score.
Nominate a ‘bill keeper’
This method will only work for certain households as it requires the right personality to be able to take charge, be organised and get each bill paid on time. But if you’ve got that one housemate who never fails to get things done, the hassle of bills can be minimised.
Use a student utilities company
Some companies offer services to create a bill package for students. This means that all utilities and services are combined to create one monthly bill. It is designed to reduce the hassle of organising your payments and they split the household bill to ensure each person receives their own portion. So if one person in the house falls behind on their payments, it’s not going to affect anyone else in the house. Take a look at companies like Glide or Huru for more info and get a quote to see if it’s for you.