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 face each month? These include energy, water and Council Tax, not to mention home insurance and the 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 the council. The amount you pay depends on your property’s valuation, the banding of your property, and your local authority.

To find out more about your Council Tax, contact your local council.

Be aware that reductions are available for certain individuals, such as those who claim benefits or have a low income.

Equally, if you live alone – or just with children under 18 – you get a 25% discount.

There are also exemptions in some situations, such as if you’re a full-time student.

Energy 

When living in a rental property, you’re required to pay the gas and electricity bills.

But in some cases, the electricity and gas bills may be in your landlord’s name. 

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

It’s worth being aware that if you pay your energy supplier directly, you have the right to switch.

Check if there are any cheaper deals out there with a comparison site, like Uswitch. You’ll see how much you can save by moving to a new supplier.

Water 

As a tenant, you may have a water bill in your own name, or pay for water as part of your rent. If you’re not sure, check your tenancy agreement.

If it's your responsibility to pay the water bill, you need to find out which water provider supplies your area.

You might not realise this, but unlike gas and electricity, you cannot shop around to find a better deal. You’ll either be on your provider’s standard tariff, or have a water meter. 

Having a water meter means you only get charged for the amount of water you use.

Read more: 7 ways to keep a lid on your water bills.

Phone and broadband

You’ll need to pay for the phone line and broadband.

Few people use a landline to make phone calls any more, so you may only need it for your internet connection.

To find out what speeds and coverage you can get, use a broadband postcode checker.

If you’re living in a shared house, it may make sense to opt for an ‘unlimited data’ broadband package. This means you should not end up breaching your data download limit.

For more tips on cutting costs, read: Does it make sense to bundle my broadband with my TV and phone?

TV licence

As a tenant, it's your responsibility to pay for a TV licence. You need one if you intend to watch or record live TV broadcasts on any channel. Or if you want to download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer (including both catch-up and on-demand).

 For more information about when you do and do not need a TV licence, check out: Do I need a TV licence?

Buildings insurance

In a rented property, it's your landlord’s responsibility to pay for buildings insurance. This is because it’s the landlord who owns the property.

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

Read more at: What’s the difference between buildings and contents insurance?

Contents insurance

By contrast, your landlord is not responsible for contents insurance, so you need to sort this 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 covered right away. It should not be expensive.

When sorting your contents insurance, ensure you're not under-insured. It could mean you end up seriously out of pocket when you come to make a claim.

Read more at: Don’t fall into the under insurance trap.

As well as shopping around, there are also plenty of other simple steps you can take to cut home insurance costs.

Read more at: 11 ways to cut the cost of home insurance.

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

  • Consider setting up direct debits to pay your bills, as this may mean you get a discount. You can set up a direct debit for your energy, water, phone and broadband bills, as well as your Council Tax and your TV licence.

  • When organising bills, beware of pay-monthly options for bills such as home contents insurance, as these are essentially high-interest loans. As it could cost you between 10% and 30% more, it’s advisable to try and pay your quoted premium in one lump sum.

  • Remember to shop around for deals on bills such as energy, phone, broadband, and home insurance, to help keep your costs down. You can do this at Uswitch.

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