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Which bills are you responsible for as a tenant?

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

Words by: Ellie Isaac

Senior Editor

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.

Let's take a 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. And if you're a full-time student, you might be exempt.

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, energy bills might be in your landlord’s name. 

If you’re not sure which applies, check your tenancy agreement. It should clearly state who's responsible for paying energy bills.

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 is another one that can go either way. You might be responsible for paying the water bill, or your landlord might've wrapped it up as part of your rent.

If you’re not sure, it's best to check your tenancy agreement.

Water providers are based on geographical area, so you can't shop around to get a better deal.

But one way to save money on water is to switch from a standard tariff to a water meter, so you're only charged for what you use.

You can ask your water supplier to fit a water meter if your tenancy agreement is for six months or longer, but it's a good idea to check your landlord's okay with it first.

If you have a fixed term tenancy of less than six months, you'll need your landlord's permission to get a water meter.

How to save money with a water meter

Phone and broadband

As a tenant, you’ll need to pay for your 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.

If you’re living with other people or 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 can work out cheaper than paying for each service separately.

Find broadband, TV and phone package deals on Uswitch.

Looking for a new rental home?

Search for a new rental home by location, price, number of bedrooms and more.

TV licence

As a tenant, it's your responsibility to pay for a TV licence. You'll need one 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, but you can spread this out if you do not want to pay it all at once. You can face a fine of up to £1,000 if you watch TV without a licence.

Apply or renew your TV licence on

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.

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.

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.