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27th Apr 2021|News|

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.

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 the 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, which shows you 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, which means you only get charged for the amount of water you use.

Phone and broadband

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

Few people use a landline to make phone calls anymore, 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 shouldn’t end up breaching your data download limit.

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

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).

A standard TV Licence costs £159 and the maximum penalty for watching TV without one is £1,000.

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 that protects the structure of your home, as well as the permanent fixtures and fittings.

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 shouldn’t be expensive and it’s a good idea to shop around to find the best deals.

Do make sure you’re not under-insured with your cover. It could mean you end up seriously out of pocket when 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

  • 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, since these are essentially high-interest loans. To avoid shelling out 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 all of this at Uswitch.

As always if you have any questions about your tenancy, renting or the property market in general, simply contact us.