What bills do you have to pay for a flat?

Written by dennis hartman
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What bills do you have to pay for a flat?
Renting a flat is a convenient alternative to buying a property. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Renting a flat or bedsit is a financially responsible means of paying for housing for some people. Tenants typically aren't responsible for paying for repairs or paying interest on a mortgage loan as homeowners are; however, renters may still need to pay utility bills. The exact bills a tenant pays depend on the lease agreement signed with the landlord.

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Rent

Rent is the one bill all tenants are responsible for, and usually the single largest monthly cost to renting a flat. The lease agreement must state the amount of rent, along with when and how tenants are to pay. Landlords may require cash, cheque, direct debit or a standing order payment, and can charge tenants late fees or begin eviction procedures when rent is late. Most landlords also require a security deposit at the start of a lease, usually around one month's rent, to cover any damage to the flat during the lease period. Security deposits may be refunded, in whole or in part, to tenants who keep their flats in good repair.

Electricity

Unless a landlord pays electricity bills as part of a promotion or as stated in the lease agreement, tenants are responsible for opening an account with the local electricity provider. Electrical bills may be monthly, bimonthly, quarterly or pre-paid and tenants who don't pay risk having their service cut off. For tenants who pay an electricity bill, investing in energy-efficient devices and conserving electricity can help lower the monthly electricity costs.

Gas

Flats may include gas service to run a hot water tank, cooker or central heating system. This means tenants who cook more often or take frequent hot showers pay more than those who conserve gas. Likewise, tenants can expect a higher gas bill during the winter months. Tenants may have to share gas bills with other tenants, if two or more flats use the same gas meter. In such a case, the lease agreement should describe whether tenants are responsible for a set percentage of each bill, or if they must pay a flat fee to the landlord, who will ultimately pay the bill.

Water

Landlords sometimes pay for water and sewerage; however, this is not the case in every property. Tenants may be responsible for a monthly water bill, or an additional flat fee to the landlord each month for water service.

Communications

Tenants are generally responsible for paying their own telecommunications bills. This includes telephone, Internet access and satellite or cable television service. Some flats offer connection to a communal satellite dish or TV aerial, but you'll still need a valid subscription card to watch premium TV services when you connect your box to the system.

Council and other services

As a tenant, you're responsible for paying Council Tax, which covers rubbish and recycling collections and other community services, including street lighting. In some situations the landlord may cover this and add a fee to the rent, so ensure you're clear about this before signing the lease. The landlords of some communal flats also levy an annual service charge, covering repairs to the overall structure of the building and upkeep of communal areas.

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