Which bills are you responsible for as a tenant?

Which bills are you responsible for as a tenant?

By Esther Shaw

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Confused about which bills are - and are not - your responsibility when living in a rental property? Here’s the lowdown.

As a tenant, rent will be your biggest housing cost each month. It’s a bill that you expect to pay.

But what about all the other bills you might face each month?

These can include energy, water and Council Tax, not to mention home insurance and a TV licence.

We look at which bills must be paid by you, the tenant, and which bills must be paid by your landlord.

Council Tax

You’ll be responsible for paying Council Tax to your local council.

The amount you pay depends on your property’s valuation, the banding of your property and your local council.

If you claim benefits or have a low income, you might pay less Council Tax.

If you're a full-time student, you might be exempt from paying Council Tax.

You can also get a 25% discount if you live alone, or it's only you and children under 18 living at your home.

Search for your local council to find out more about your Council Tax and if you're eligible for a discount.

Gas and electricity 

When you live in a rental property, you might be required to pay the gas and electricity bills.

But in some cases, the energy bills might be in your landlord’s name. 

If you’re not sure who's responsible, check your tenancy agreement.

Find out about how to understand your tenancy agreement.

If you pay your energy supplier directly, you have the right to find a cheaper deal and switch suppliers.

Find gas and electricity deals on Uswitch. Comparison sites like this will show you how much you can save by moving to a new supplier.

Water 

You might be responsible for paying the water bill as a tenant, or your landlord might've wrapped it up as part of your rent.

If you’re not sure, check your tenancy agreement.

If it's your responsibility, find out which water company supplies your area.

With water bills, you can't shop around to find a better deal. Water providers are based on geographical area.

You'll either be on a provider's standard tariff or you'll have a water meter. With a meter, you only get charged for the amount of water you use.

Phone and broadband

As a tenant, you’ll need to pay for the phone line and broadband.

You can choose not to have a landline. Most people just use their mobile phones these days, so you might not need one.

Find out what internet speed, coverage and deals you can get with Uswitch's broadband postcode checker.

If you’re living in a shared house, it may make sense to opt for an 'unlimited data’ broadband package. It'll help you avoid going over your data limit and being charged extra.

Bundling your broadband into a package with your TV and phone could also work out cheaper than paying for each service separately.

Find broadband, TV and phone package deals.

TV licence

As a tenant, it's your responsibility to pay for a TV licence.

You need a TV licence if you intend to watch or record live TV broadcasts on any channel.

You still need one if you want to download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer (including catch-up and on-demand).

A TV licence costs £159. You can face a fine of up to £1,000 if you watch TV without a licence.

Apply or renew your TV licence on tvlicensing.co.uk.

Buildings insurance

In a rented property, it's the landlord’s responsibility to pay for the buildings insurance, because they own the property.

Buildings insurance is the cover which protects the structure of your home, as well as the permanent fixtures and fittings.

Contents insurance

However, you will need to sort contents insurance yourself.

Contents insurance covers everything you could imagine falling out of your home if you turned it upside down.

This includes gadgets, furniture, carpets, curtains, clothes and jewellery.

It’s important to organise contents cover as soon as you move into a new property to ensure you’re protected right away.

Contents insurance is usually fairly cheap. It's still a good idea to shop around for contents insurance deals on sites like Uswitch.

Make sure you accurately value the things you own when you take out the insurance. If you underestimate it, you could end up seriously out of pocket if you need to make a claim.

Service charges

In some cases, tenants may be required to pay service charges for gardening or the cleaning of communal areas.

Check your tenancy agreement to see what you are responsible for.

Top tips for managing your bills as a tenant

1. Set up direct debits

Consider setting up direct debits to pay your bills. It can get you a discount on some bills, and it makes sure you don't miss a payment.

You can set up a direct debit for your energy, water, phone and broadband bills, as well as your Council Tax and TV licence.

2. Pay for a longer period if you can

With some bills, you'll have the option to pay the whole amount for a year. This works out cheaper than paying on a monthly basis.

You can pay for contents insurance and your TV licence for the year.

If you opt for the monthly payment, you're essentially taking out a high-interest loan. You'll be charged 10% to 30% more by spreading the payment.

So pay for the year up front if you can afford it and you'll save money in the long run.

3. Shop around for deals

It can take a fair bit of time to shop around and get your head around different deals.

But it's worth it to find a great deal that'll save you money.

You can find deals on energy, phone, broadband, insurance and more at Uswitch.