Renting with other people is a great idea where you can not only make new friends or take on a new adventure with old ones, but you can also share home costs. They can make the financial burden of home rental a lot easier to bear. But remember – it is important to sit down and have a conversation about paying those bills on time before all hell breaks lose.
What could be worse than services such as your heating or your phone line being cut off because you couldn’t pay those hated outgoings?
But it’s not just being chilly that could be a problem. Failing to pay your Council Tax bill or TV Licence could land you in court. Not only that but it can also result in a bad credit score which may affect your chances of securing a mortgage in the future.
However, let’s try and be positive and keep those troubles at bay – our simple steps will ensure that you keep a pleasant household.
Work out the sharing of bills
First things first, you need to make a list of all the shared bills you will need to contribute to. Typically, you’ll need to budget for:
– Gas and electric
– Council Tax
– TV Licence
– Broadband and Phone
Sit down with your new housemates and estimate how much you will be spending on them every month. Add the total amount together and divide it so that everyone puts their fair share into the pot and there will be no troubles in your household.
If you’re super organised, then creating a spreadsheet may be right up your street.
Pay by Direct Debit
If you’re the forgetful type then a direct debit is the easiest and cheapest way to pay your household bills. This way you do not need to think about when it needs to be paid and how much you need to pay.
Nominate one of you to pay all the bills from their personal account and set up a standing order to pay your share into that person’s account each month. Let’s just hope that there are enough funds in the bill payer’s account! It is always best to set the standing order up to transfer the funds a few days before the invoice needs to be paid.
Another option is setting up a joint current account into which you can all pay your share and you can set up your direct debits from there. However, joint accounts should only be opened with trusted friends as you are linked financially to the credit score of anyone who you hold the account with. So if your new room mate likes to shop until they drop and they don’t worry about how much money they have in debt then it may be best to stay clear of this option. Also remember that the account should be closed when you move out.
Set up a kitty
There is nothing worse than getting to the fridge and seeing the milk YOU paid for has been used. To stop a fight from breaking out, set up a kitty so that everyone contributes to the essentials such as milk, tea, bread and loo roll. This way you will be able to make a list and avoid stocking up on too much of the same item.
It may also be a good idea to make a rule that any boyfriends or girlfriends staying over regularly have to chip in too.
Use an App
Nowadays everything is done electronically, so why not use a handy little app to sort out your problems? It will take the hassle out of calculating the shared expenses and will do all the maths for you. Splittable and Splitwise are two free apps that may be perfect for you. And this isn’t just used for bills; it can even split the rent fairly based on your room size and amenities. After all, it’s not entirely fair paying more than your flatmate who has a walk-in wardrobe and master bedroom with an en-suite. Pay for what you get.
Prioritise the bills
If the money is running low one month then it is best to prioritise bills such as your Council Tax and TV Licence. These bills have more immediate legal consequences if they’re not paid and can lead to prosecution, fines and even imprisonment.
But don’t stress, if you speak to your landlord or supplier immediately when you don’t think you will be able to pay your bill, they may be able to help you pay it.
House sharing doesn’t have to seem like a military mission. If you use these useful tips we have recommended, you will be able to create a positive relationship with your chum about the outgoings and you can avoid those stressful situations.
Unfortunately we won’t be able to help you with paying the bills, but we are more than happy to speak to you about any property issues – 0800 880 6024.