So you have some housemates and you have a house? Excellent.
Now is the best time to make sure that all the bills are sorted out in time for the start of term in September.
You should already know what is included in your rent, sometimes water, electricity, gas, TV licence etc can be included. Ask your landlord or letting agent if you are unsure. If you have something included it will probably be written into your contract.
Don’t forget you have to cancel everything at the end of the year, so make sure you read all the information that comes when you sign up for cancellation notices etc. Don’t pay fees you could have avoided by phoning a few months before you left!
My recommendation are as follows:
- Do not pay via direct debit if you have a fluctuating or low bank balance, you don’t want to go into the red! If you have a reasonable buffer in your account then direct debit is often a good way to save money.
- Try and spread the bills around a bit, make sure all your housemates are paying something.
- Pay each other on time or before. Don’t be the one responsible for your housemates going into debt
- Pay the bills on time.
- Ensure that everyone is fully in the loop when you are signing up for bills
- Don’t bother with joint or house accounts they are far too much hassle.
- Make sure you don’t sign up to contracts longer than that with the house, especially if you have no intention of staying there next year. (Warning, many broadband and discount tariffs for utilities require signing a 12 month contract, avoid these if you know you are staying for less.)
- Try and set up single Direct Debits with each other online, it saves having to mess around with cheques, it’s also more environmentally friendly saving trips to town and wasted paper.
- Don’t pay each other in cash where possible, it’s easy to forget, especially if given on a drunken night out.
- Make sure you have enough money in your account to cover any bills or expenses that may arise.
Gas and Electricity
First things first, gas and electricity. It’s important to get these sorted first in your list, it can take between 28-40 days for a utilities company to switch your gas and electricity and start supplying you. Don’t worry though you aren’t going to get cut off any time soon but make sure it’s fully sorted by the time term starts. Unfortunately both gas and electricity prices have sky-rocketed this year so don’t expect the bills to be cheap! It is probably worthwhile getting Gas and Electricity bundled together with one provider to get a cheaper deal and for convenience sake.
The next thing to consider is a telephone line, but before we do this it may be worth considering whether Cable is a better option in your area and gets you a cheaper overall broadband-tv-telephone deal. If it doesn’t then just get standard BT line rental. If you use the phone a lot then consider a package to suit your needs.
I would also recommend signing your new number up to the Telephone Preference Service as soon as possible to reduce cold calls, telemarketing calls etc.
Once you have a telephone line sorted you can get broadband. You can read our recommendations for choosing broadband in a student home here. Make sure you get this sorted about a month before you move in, as it can take up to 4 weeks to get connected, and the last thing you want to do is start the term without being able to connect to the internet.
They can’t cut off your water, but it’s a good idea to pay the bill! Make sure you are signed up to your water company so you don’t get any demanding red letters. You won’t have any choice about this, just find out who supplies you and sign up.
Insurance is very important, the last thing you want is to be left having to pay for loads of new stuff either because of a freak accident or because your stuff has been stolen! Read our recommendations on choosing student insurance here.
Finally make sure you pay your TV licence for the house. It’s not that much split over a number of housemates, and you can have a communal TV that way! Remember there are other ways as well to enjoy TV without a licence! You do NOT need a licence to play with an XBOX or other consoles, as long as your TV is not plugged into an aerial or tuned in to any channels.