Bank accounts and Bill payments
Who’s responsible for setting up bill payments?
When you sign your tenancy agreement, one lucky member of your group will be nominated, willingly or otherwise, to become the lead tenant. The lead tenant serves as the main point of contact between your house and the letting agent with all things house-y. Being the main point of contact, it makes sense that bills should be addressed to you to keep everything under one name. The letting agent will usually switch the names over easily enough with the same energy company as the previous tenants. Or, a quick call to the energy supplier should do the trick, simply have the newest meter readings ready as well as all your contact details.
What if we want to switch energy providers? How do we go about this?
Let’s be fair, switching energy providers sounds like some terrifying responsible adulting that you need to know loads of clever stuff to be able to do. Don’t stress, it’s really not that hard. More often than not switching energy companies will lead to cheaper bills and therefore more money for you to spend on tequila shots and takeaways. First things first, do some research and shop around. Go to a price comparison website, look online or ring a couple of companies if you can be bothered or feel like practising your phone voice for your future career in sales.
Do we need a joint bank account?
Not necessarily, but it does make it a LOT easier when it comes to paying bills. Setting up a direct debit out of a joint bank account means that you’ll never miss a bill. Simply set up a direct debit from your own personal account to go into your joint account, and forget the rest. As an extra lil precaution, put all the money for rent, bills, and any household extras straight into the joint account as soon as your loan comes in, this way when you’ve blown your money you won’t have the looming responsibility of bills to pay for. Having a set amount going in every month also means it’s likely there will be a bit left over at the end of the year, so treat yourself to a house night out with some cheap champers.
How do I make sure I’m paying the right amount?
Make sure you take a metre reading when you move into the property, and make sure the letting agent gives you proof of a reading as soon as the previous tenants have left. Keep track of these over the year as your bill payments go out, you can work out if you think you’re overpaying or underpaying. It’s a good idea to keep these in a communal area e.g. a piece of paper stuck on the fridge as a record of the date and the usage. This will help you avoid being ripped off by pill companies, you have proof of what you have actually used, and aren’t stuck with an unpaid bill from last years tenants.
As well as your standard bills, gas, water and electric, you need to consider the extras. It’s pretty much essential in your student house that you have a good WIFI connection, so root around for the best deals you can find online. In addition, you might want to buy a TV license if you’re an avid Game of Thrones viewer. When split between your housemates, this really won’t cost you much and is definitely a worthwhile addition to your student house. You can incorporate these extra bills into your budget books, and create direct debits to them just like your utilities, or for some bills such as your telly license, you could pay them back in one go at the beginning of the year.