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

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

But what about all the other bills you face each month, such as 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 will 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 are a full-time student.

Energy 

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

Note, though, that 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 for your gas or electricity, you have the right to switch supplier.

To check out if there are better deals on offer – which is likely if you’ve inherited expensive energy tariffs – log on to comparison site, uSwitch. It will show you how much you can save by moving to a new supplier.

For more energy-saving tips, read: 58 ways to save energy in your new home.

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 is 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 will either be on your provider’s standard tariff, or have a water meter. With a water meter, you get charged for the amount of water you use.

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

Phone and broadband

You will need to pay for the phone and broadband.

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

When thinking about broadband for your rental property, make use of the uSwitch broadband postcode checker to find out what speeds and coverage you could get.

If you are living in a shared house, it may make sense to opt for an ‘unlimited data’ broadband package, as this means you shouldn’t end up breaching your data download.

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 falls to you to pay for a TV licence. It is required if you want 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 don’t – need a TV licence, check out: Do I need a TV licence?

Buildings insurance

In a rented property, it is your landlord’s responsibility to pay for buildings insurance – as the landlord is the one who owns the property.

Building 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 in to a new property to ensure you are covered right away. The good news is, it’s not an expensive insurance.
When sorting your contents insurance, you need to ensure you don’t end up under-insured, as this 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.

Be sure to shop around for the best value insurance deal for your needs. You can do this at uSwitch.

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 discounts. You can set up a direct debit for your energy, water, phone and broadband bill, 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 by spreading the payment over a year, it is 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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