The hidden costs to be wary of when locking down a room.
“Bills not included”. It’s a statement people hate hearing when looking for a room in London, especially given that rent can be sky-high in the first place.
If you’ve decided to go with a room where bills are not calculated within your rental price, be very wary of flatmates or landlords who tell you “not to worry – it shouldn’t be too much. We’ll sort it out as we go”. Always make sure that you do the number crunching to avoid getting into a situation where you’re struggling financially.
As surprise bills are never fun, we’ve compiled a list of some common expenses that you need to bear in mind when bills are not included with your rent:
Council tax can be a big expense, depending in the area in which you reside. It’s a charge that covers local services such as rubbish collection, roads and street lighting, maintenance of parks and playgrounds and public leisure centres. Ironically, some of London’s most exclusive and affluent Boroughs, such as Westminster, enjoy the lowest council tax rates in England.
Always ask what the council tax is for the specific Borough and ensure you know how many house mates you’re splitting the expense between.
As at April 2015, the average annual household water bill amounted to about £400 – this could mean an expense of between £20.00 and £5.00 per month, depending on the level of water usage and the number of flat sharers at your property. It’s a good idea to ask whether your water charges are metered or unmetered – if they are metered, they will be a set fee for the entire year. Unmetered charges are taken from a water meter and you pay for the units of water that you use.
Electricity and gas
Attempting to predict an energy bill can be tricky, as there are many different factors that will affect the bill, from region of the country that you live in, to the amount of energy that you use, as well as how you choose to pay it. Be wary of flatmates who leave heaters on all day and night, never turn the lights off or leave the fridge door open!
If there’s a television at your new place, a TV License is necessary. It’s currently an annual fee of £145.50, coming to around £12.00 a month.
Taking into account all of the above factors, you could be stuck with paying an additional £50.00 to £100.00 a month in additional expenses that you never anticipated.
A good piece of advice is to compile a checklist of any possible relevant charges and discuss them with your room provider before securing an agreement.
So don’t get caught; do your research, do the math and ask the right questions!