When you move in to a property, find and read your meter, make a note of the readings and contact the suppliers with the name of each of the tenants and the reading to open an account. You should discuss with your housemates how you will arrange bills before moving into a house.
If possible you should include all names on the bills. The utility companies should allow you all to register jointly so it may be a good idea to open a house bank account where these bills are paid from. If one person's name is on the bills, even though all members of the household are liable due to usage, it is harder to prove who should be charged.
If you don't provide accurate readings when you move in you could end up paying the previous tenants' bills. If you cannot find the meters in your property or there is some confusion over which meter services your house or flat, contact your landlord or estate agent.
Bills Inclusive Rents
Make sure that your name is not on the bill, or you will be potentially held liable if the landlord does not pay the bills. Make sure you know what happens if you use more, or less than the landlord has allowed for - will you pay more, or get a refund. These contracts can cost more, as the landlords will allow enough usage to ensure that they get enough money. The may also charge to cover admin. Some landlords offer inclusive rents where the bills are included. While these may seem a good idea and can save you the bother of setting up accounts, there are some things to be aware of; again make sure it is clear in the contract exactly how much of the rent is allocated to bills.
Sharing a home can be stressful at the best of times, let alone with the added pressure of studying. If you are having ongoing issues with a housemate/s that you are unable to resolve, this can have an impact on your studies and wellbeing.
Talk to them first
Sometimes, situations can be resolved before they get too serious just with a simple chat. Your flatmate may not realise how loud their music is, or how annoying their behaviour can be. Sometimes a quiet word in private can be the best way to resolve things. Try not to be too accusatory- be assertive but polite, and don’t get drawn into an argument.
If talking to a person one on one has no effect, then it may be worth getting other flatmates involved. However, if someone feels like they’re being ganged up on, or if everyone in the flat doesn’t like them, their behaviour may actually become more antisocial.
If you want to tackle something as a flat, maybe try discussing a few issues at once in order to seem less like you’re singling out one person. Including yourself and generalising issues can also help e.g. suggesting everyone is a bit quieter after 11pm during exam season, or you all do more cleaning may have a better effect than singling out one person. Setting clear ground rules for chores and noise is a good way to avoid disputes.
If you’re living in private rented accommodation
Private landlords and letting agencies don’t normally want to get involved in disputes between tenants. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you can all be held responsible for any damage caused or anti-social behaviour. This is why it’s so important to choose your housemates carefully and not rush into anything.
It’s also much harder to leave private rented accommodation part way through the tenancy agreement- you’ll normally have to find someone to take over your room, or you’ll end up paying two rents. However, if you really want to leave, the first step is normally to discuss things with your landlord.
If you’re having serious issues in private rented accommodation, it may still be worth speaking to the landlord, especially if someone is breaching their tenancy (e.g. having guests to stay more often than permitted). If the landlord is willing to speak to your housemate, then this might help resolve the situation.
You can also contact us in the Students’ Union and if all the housemates agree then we can organise some mediation to try and resolve the issues you are facing.