Moving into a new rental property is a mixture of both excitement and stress.

With so many bills to pay, renting comes with the challenge of not only paying rent each month, but also for utilities, insurance and other expenses. So what bills do you have to pay when renting?

From the moment you sign your lease agreement through to handing over the keys, there’s a lot to take in. This guide will make the process of renting a lot easier as we cover the basics required for you to be renter ready!

Council Tax

Council tax is a locally determined tax, which is payable for each domestic or residential property. Whether renting or paying a mortgage, council tax will always be essential.

Council tax funds local services such as police and fire services, leisure and recreation projects, libraries and education, transport, environmental maintenance and waste collection and disposal.

The amount of council tax you pay is determined on each residential property that falls into one of 9,000 local authorities across the country.

Tax is divided into bands that usually fall between A and H. Properties in band A have the lowest taxes; properties in band H have the highest. The more expensive the home, the higher the tax band.

A Council Tax bill is based on two or more adults living in the property as their main address. If a single person over 18 lives in the property, the Council may be eligible for a tax reduction of 25%.

You can only claim a single person discount for one property, your main home.

The payment for council tax is paid directly to the local council. Therefore landlords will not include it in the cost of monthly rent and will require you to pay the bill separately.

Every April, you’ll receive a council tax bill with the option to either pay the amount in full; or in ten monthly instalments by direct debit.

Movebubble comments, “It’s important to remember that the cost of council tax varies in different areas, and in many cases, won’t be included within the price of rent.

However, the concept of ‘all-inclusive’ package properties – where the cost of council tax and bills are included in the rent – is on the rise, with renters looking for convenience and ease.”

Contact your local council if you would like to find out more about your Council Tax.

TV License

We all love being able to binge-watch TV shows at the touch of a button, but are you aware of just how much this can cost?

A TV Licence costs £159 for both homes and businesses. As a tenant, it’s your responsibility to make sure you have a TV licence in place to watch or record live TV broadcasts on any channel.

A single TV Licence covers all of the following in a single property:

  • TV sets
  • Computers
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Mobile Devices
  • A device that can receive a TV signal

Watching or recording live TV without a TV Licence could cost you a fine of £1000.

In the past few years, subscriptions have been coming thick and fast, from movie subscriptions to music streaming services. Adding streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video can add up your costs significantly. There’s no avoiding the reality that the big streaming services are not cheap.

Netflix charges £5.99 a month for its most standard service, while Amazon Prime Video is priced at £7.99 per month for UK users. Something to bear in mind when calculating your rise in bills as a renter.

Security Deposit

Your tenancy deposit will usually be the same amount as 4 or 5 weeks worth of rent. It’s illegal for your landlord to force you to pay a deposit that exceeds the equivalent of five weeks rent.

If you feel you are charged too much, you can get free legal advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you are moving out of the property you are renting, you should be able to receive all of your deposit back, except for the money you owe. Landlords can make deductions from your deposit however, they must give you a letter explaining the reasons why.

Your landlord has to include information on how much of your deposit will be kept, the reason, and evidence supporting their decision. For example, damage to the property is a result of your lack of basic maintenance and care.

Your landlord must place your deposit in a government-authorised ‘tenancy deposit scheme’ within 30 working days of receiving it to keep your deposit safe.

You may also be offered an alternative method to pay. This could be a single payment that calculates less than a deposit, or an extra amount is added to your monthly rental payment. This is called a ‘Zero-Deposit Scheme’.

Zero Deposit renting is faster and more affordable for tenants to move into a home without putting down an expensive five-week cash deposit. Through Zero-Deposit Guarantee, you’ll pay a lower upfront payment of one week’s rent plus a £49 set up fee at the point you move in, and then £17.50 each year.

Holding Deposit

If you are interested in renting a home, you may be required to pay a holding deposit. If you’re still unsure about the property, don’t pay or sign anything; usually, if you change your mind and decide to not go through with the rent, you won’t get any of the money back.

Once you are confident, you need to sign a tenancy agreement within 15 days of paying the holding deposit. Your landlord cannot rent out the premises to another person for a given period without first offering it to you.

For example:

Your monthly rent = £650
Multiply by 12 for the year = £7,800
Divide £7,800 by 52 = £150 per week
Your holding deposit will be £150

If your landlord decides not to go ahead, you’ll receive the holding deposit back 7 days after the decision is made.

Water

As a tenant, you may be required to pay for water if your landlord doesn’t include it in the rent. In this case, you need to determine which water provider supplies in your area.

You mainly have two options: you take advantage of your provider’s price structure; or use a water meter, which charges you by the volume of water used.

Double-check that if your water is included within your rent, you shouldn’t be charged more than the amount the water company charges, plus a reasonable administration fee. If you think your landlord might have overcharged you for water, take a closer look at how much you’ve been charged compared to how much water you’ve used.

Gas and Electricity

It’s hard to know what to expect from your gas and electricity bills when you’re renting simply because your final energy cost depends on several factors. There are inevitably ways to cut your energy use and save money, but it’s important to understand the biggest factor: how much you use.

When a tenant, more than often you’re responsible for paying your landlord’s gas and electricity bills. Ensure to check if your accommodation is all-inclusive as it will be included within the rental price.

If you recently moved into the property you’re renting, you may want to check with your landlord to ask who is supplying the gas and electricity. The previous resident may have notified the energy company that they are no longer residing at this address; in this case, your current energy provider is likely to contact you.

If you pay the electricity bills yourself, there is no legal reason why you should not be able to compare energy providers and switch if you feel that you can save money by doing so.

Renters Insurance

If you rent a property, it’s the responsibility of the landlord to pay for the buildings insurance because they own the property however, there are two types of renters insurance you can invest in:

  • Tenancy Liability – covers accidental damage to your landlord’s contents and items they provide
  • Tenants Contents – covers your possessions in the event of fire, theft, accidental damage or other risks.

Losing your most personal possessions would be financially devastating, so it’s important to take out the correct level of cover by considering how much it would cost to replace your belongings.

Q: I just got my first apartment! It’s tiny, and I don’t own a lot of things, but my parents are encouraging me to get renters insurance. Here’s my question: Since my landlord already has insurance on the property, what reason would I have to get renters insurance?

A: Simply put, renters need insurance to protect their stuff. As a renter, you don’t own the structure you live in, and you are not likely to insure it. The belongings inside your rental, on the other hand, are probably important to you.

Gocompare found that renters pay £79.60 a year on average for contents-only cover; however, how much you pay will depend on your circumstances. You can also estimate how much cover you will need using Gocompare’s contents insurance calculator.

Broadband

In the case of choosing a broadband plan, it is definitely worth taking the time to look around for the best deal rather than simply choosing the first company that presents itself.

Broadband deals vary from area to area, so it’s beneficial to go online and find out which broadband packages and speeds are available to you to avoid paying more than necessary.

If you plan to stay in your property long term, find out if the length of the contract will work for you and if there is any cost involved with breaking it early.

​​There is a lot of choices when it comes to choosing your first broadband deal, and plenty of companies offer you cheap deals. But how do you know what you’re getting for your money? You need to make sure that hidden costs such as line rental and connection charges don’t inflate the bill once the introductory offer ends.

If there is an existing line at the property, accessing standard broadband shouldn’t require anything more than plugging in your provider’s router.

It’s often cheaper to pay for a contract that covers both broadband and a TV license as a cost-effective option, for example, Sky or Virgin Media.

So if you are about to take the plunge into broadband land, then you will surely want to ensure that you take your time to do your research into the best deal – ideally before you move in – as this can save you money in the long term.

Groceries

According to Niblefins, the average spend on food per person is £40.30 per week (£175 per month), including groceries and eating out—across all ages and genders. The average weekly food shop for 1 is £26.5 in the UK, plus we spend another £13.8 on eating out or ordering takeaways each week.

Buying ingredients can be expensive, that’s why it’s important to maximise the amount of food you make for the least expense. One way to do this is by planning your menu for the week ahead of time.

If you’re shopping for groceries, it’s not just the brand that matters. The store you’re shopping in can greatly influence the price of your food.

Furniture

Furnishing a newly rented flat or house can be both an exciting and daunting prospect.

According to Onthemarket, renting a two-bedroom furnished flat can cost up to 21% more per month than renting an unfurnished property of the same size in the same area.

Build up a plan for furnishing your rented property. Before you start shopping, it’s a good idea to make a plan for furnishing and decorating your flat by working out how much you can afford. Set up a spreadsheet and list the furniture and appliances you want to purchase for each room in your house.

Gumtree created an article based on The Cost of Furnishing a One-Bedroom Flat, breaking down each room individually to help you determine how much you may need to budget.

Emergency Pot

No matter how thorough you were in your initial planning, there’s a chance that you will come across some unexpected problems and additional costs down the track.

Allocate a percentage of your original budget for this additional work and use it wherever it is most needed, such as repairs, unanticipated rental increases or equipment replacement.

Are You Ready To Rent?

Renting a property is an exciting experience, but understandably it can take a lot of research and planning to make sure that renting a property ends up being the right decision for you.

Hopefully, we have now fully furnished you with not only the information but also the confidence to move into a rental property. The first step is always the hardest, so it’s always best to research more than you need. We’re sure you’ll be able to breeze through the process with ease!

Don’t forget: leave a little extra to treat yourself!

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