How to Set Up Bills When Renting House For the First Time in the UK
Renting your first property in the UK can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience. As a first-time renter, understanding your financial responsibilities and how to set up bills is crucial for a smooth transition into your new home. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up bills as a first-time renter in the UK, helping you understand your responsibilities and make informed decisions.
Understand Your Responsibilities Before Renting House:
Before diving into the specifics of setting up bills, it’s essential to understand your responsibilities as a tenant regarding utility bills.
What Are Utility Bills?
Utility bills encompass essential services required for comfortable living in your rented home. Utility bills typically include:
Energy (Gas & Electricity) Bill:
Before moving in, you must contact energy suppliers to set up gas and electricity accounts in your name, ensuring that the energy supply to your rented property is uninterrupted. This ensures you’re responsible for paying your energy bills. Consider comparing tariffs to find the most cost-effective option.
Although water bills are usually included in some rental agreements, it’s essential to confirm whether you are responsible for this bill. Water bills are typically managed by water companies, and you need to set up an account in your name. Remember to provide regular meter readings to ensure accurate billing.
Council tax is a local government charge based on your property’s value and the number of occupants. It is helps fund services like rubbish collection and local schools. As a tenant, you may be responsible for paying council tax, although some properties may be exempt. You must inform your local council when you move into a new property, and they will bill you accordingly.
Broadband and Home Phone:
If you require internet and home phone services, contact providers to set up these accounts. Consider bundle deals to save on costs.
Service charges may apply if you’re renting a property in a managed complex or a building with communal areas. These charges cover the maintenance and upkeep of shared spaces.
Internet and TV Services:
If you plan to use internet and TV services, sign up with providers and choose packages that suit your preferences.
Contact Utility Providers:
Once you’ve identified the utilities you need, get in touch with the respective service providers. You can find these providers online or through recommendations from your landlord or letting agent. They will guide you through the setup process, provide tariff options, and explain payment methods.
First-Time Renter Costs:
When moving into your first rental property, you should budget for:
In the UK, you are legally required to have a TV Licence if you watch or record live television or use the BBC iPlayer. Ensure you purchase one if applicable.
While not a bill, contents insurance is highly recommended to protect your belongings in case of theft, damage, or other unforeseen events.
Aside from utility bills, budget for personal expenses like groceries, transportation, entertainment, household items, cleaning supplies, and any other expenses related to your new home
Utility providers offer various payment methods, including direct debit, which is convenient and helps avoid missed payments, pay-as-you-go, or quarterly billing. Choose the one that suits your financial situation and preferences best. Make sure you have sufficient funds in your bank account to cover these payments.
You can also read Choosing the Right Bank in the UK
For gas and electricity bills, you’ll need to provide meter readings when setting up your accounts. This ensures accurate billing and helps prevent overcharging.
Creating a monthly budget can help you manage your finances effectively. Allocate specific amounts for each utility bill, rent, groceries, and other expenses to ensure you stay within your means.
Notify Providers When Moving Out:
When you decide to move out, inform your utility providers and provide them with a forwarding address. This ensures that you’re not held responsible for bills after you’ve left the property.
Consider Renters Insurance:
While contents insurance covers your possessions, renters insurance provides liability coverage and additional protection. It’s worth considering to safeguard yourself against unforeseen circumstances.
Maintain a folder or digital file with all your rental-related documents, including contracts, bills, and correspondence with utility providers and your landlord. This will help you stay organized and address any issues that may arise.
A Quick Guide to the Tenant Fees Act 2019
Finally, it’s essential to be aware of the Tenant Fees Act 2019, which protects renters from excessive fees. Here are some key points:
What Fees Can Be Charged?
- Security deposits (capped at five weeks’ rent)
- Holding deposits (capped at one week’s rent)
- Late rent fees (capped at 3% above the Bank of England base rate)
- Change of tenancy fees (capped at £50, unless the landlord can demonstrate higher costs)
- Charges for early termination of the tenancy
What Fees Does the Act Prohibit?
The Act prohibits many other fees that were once common, including:
- Charging fees for reference checks
- Charging fees for credit History checks
- Charging fees for inventory checks
- Charging fees for administration and renewal of tenancy agreements
What Should I Do If a Landlord or Agent Has Charged a Prohibited Payment?
If you believe your landlord or letting agent has charged a prohibited payment, you can seek advice from organizations like Citizens Advice or contact the local council for assistance. The Tenant Fees Act is designed to protect tenants, so don’t hesitate to assert your rights.
- Be prepared to provide proof of identity and address. Most utility providers will require you to provide proof of identity and address when you sign up for services. This could be a copy of your passport, driving license, or utility bill.
- Read the terms and conditions carefully. Before you sign up for any services, be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully. This will help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a customer.
- Be aware of any hidden fees. Some utility providers charge hidden fees, such as connection fees or early termination fees. Be sure to ask about any potential fees before you sign up for services.
Remember that the specific steps and providers may vary depending on your location in the UK, so always check with local authorities and service providers for the most accurate and up-to-date information.