If you are looking to share with others, make sure you talk about finances before you begin your search.

In this article:

Be realistic about what you can afford to pay and stick to your budget when house-hunting. If sharing with friends, check how much everyone can afford before you start looking. There is nothing worse than finding the perfect property, only for someone to pull out when they realise they cannot afford it or worse find that they are unable to keep up with rent payments once they are committed to a contract.

Always check with the landlord if any bills are included in the rent, or try to get an idea of how much extra you will have to pay if these are your responsibility.
  • Water bills can be calculated on the size of the property or by a water meter, so get an estimate of the yearly bill from either the landlord or the current occupier.
  • Likewise, gas and electricity depend on the equipment in place at the property; its size and the level of usage by the tenants.
    • Don’t forget that bills will vary throughout the year. You will be paying more for heating over the winter months.
  • Check whether there is a service charge if you are living in a block of flats or there is some other serviced communal area.
Remember, the bills are only one aspect to consider, so assess it as a full package - if the rent is low and the bills are a bit high, it may still be a good deal.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
All rental properties with a new tenancy in England and Wales will be required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Landlords that don’t have an EPC could be fined £200 for non-compliance. The EPC grades the property’s current and potential energy efficiency rating as well as its overall environment impact.

  • May help you to gauge the potential cost of energy bills
  • Could help you to evaluate whether or not there is a fair rent in relation to the additional household bills
  • Could give you some leverage when negotiating the level of rent or improvements on the property with the landlord

Council Tax
Students are exempt from Council Tax but you must remember to apply for exemption. You will need to send your council a copy of your Confirmation of Study Letter, available from your student record.

If you decide to move in with non-students, they may expect you to pay towards the Council Tax bill - so always check this before agreeing to move in.

For more details on being exempt and council tax in general, please refer to our Council tax & household bills section and read our article Who is exempt from paying Council Tax?

Your Landlord is responsible for insuring the building but to secure your own belongings, you will need to take out a contents insurance policy. You may be covered by your parents’ policy but if not, shop around for personal or group insurance.

Endsleigh specialise in student insurance but have a look for other quotes too. Check what your policy covers, if your mobile phone is included you won’t need separate insurance to protect it.

TV Licence
If you stream live TV or use BBC iPlayer, you need a licence. It is everyone’s responsibility! If it is watched in a house where you live then you will be committing a criminal offence by not having a licence. If you are living in halls of residence or have your own licence to rent a room in a shared house you will probably need your own TV licence.

If in doubt, check with TV Licensing.

Broadband, phone and TV packages
There are many packages on the market and whilst you may only need broadband (most students use their mobile phones) sometimes a full package can work out cheaper.

Watch out for:
  • Introductory offers, a reduced price for the first 3 months and then significantly more expensive for the rest of the contract
  • Minimum contract periods
  • Use of the house phone to make overseas calls or premium rate calls – bills will quickly add up!

Cable.co.uk is an Ofcom approved comparison site which lets you compare the main operators and see the basic terms and conditions. There are several price comparison sites and suppliers on the market so always take the time to shop around and do your research.

If you live in a house share, come to an agreement about who will be responsible for which bills and how to pay them. If you plan to use direct debit to get a discount, a bank account will have to be used. Therefore you will have to discuss who will be responsible for this and how payments will be collected.

For hints and tips on how to reduce your household bills visit Money Saving Expert and The Money Charity.

Don’t forget – if you are struggling to manage your money, don’t hesitate to contact the Money & Housing Advice team, who can support you.