It’s the beginning of your second year at Uni and you and your mates are about to move into a shared student house which means understanding shared house bills. Exciting?! Yes! A little bit nerve wracking?! Pretty much! We understand and want to help make this new phase as fun and stress-free as possible.

Sharing a house means more than house parties and movie nights – sadly! Unfortunately, bills and paying the rent also come with the deal and this is likely to be your first taste of independence and that’s awesome. But it also comes with responsibility. We’ve put together a quick guide to utility bills and how to share out the cost.

What are utility bills?

  • Gas and Electricity for energy such as heated water, lights and charging your phone.
  • Water for your baths, showers, cooking and cups of tea needs paying for. Your bills will also cover the cost and maintenance of pipework connected to your home.
  • Student broadband deals will make sure your laptop, tablet, phone and TV all stay connected to fast and reliable internet. Your social life, entertainment and ability to study would be massively restricted without it.
  • TV Licensing. Yes, even if you don’t have a TV. Watching Blue Planet (LOVE David Attenborough!) on a laptop screen is still ‘watching TV’.

Help for international students

If you are a student planning to travel to the UK from your home country to study then get in touch directly with Glide’s friendly, helpful staff. We will be happy to take you through how the UK utility bills are worked out, making it super easy for you.

Have a chat with your friends and prospective housemates about how, when and how much you will be expected to pay. Suggest a shared bills service like Glide to make all your lives much simpler.

Organising your shared house bills

Communicate

Make sure that you have the ‘money talk’ with your friends very early on after deciding to move in together. Communication and honesty are so important at this point. Discuss what needs to be paid and how it will be organised. Set clear rules so you all know where you stand, for example:

  • Megan will pay the monthly water bill payment online three days before it is due.
  • Fred and Hannah will give Megan cash or do a bank transfer for their share on the same day.
  • There should only be a delay with payment in an emergency and it should be paid no more than three days late.

We know it looks very serious and adult (ugh!) but it will save arguments, misunderstandings and potential late payment charges and interest. Sadly, many good friends have fallen out over money, bills and rent. Don’t let that happen to you – shared student houses are meant to be fun places to be!

Nominate one person to pay all the bills

  • Do you have one housemate who is happy to take on the responsibility of paying all the bills? Are you happy to trust them with that role? Are you OK owing that person your share each month?
  • This is a common option for paying the bills in shared houses. However, it can place a big strain on the person ‘in charge’ especially if they don’t get the money they are owed promptly.
  • The person responsible for making the payments must be confident that they will consistently have enough money in their bank account to pay all the bills each month. A direct debit into that person’s account from each housemate BEFORE the first bill of the month comes out would be a very good idea.

Open a joint bank account

  • Each housemate will pay a set monthly amount into the account and the utility and broadband providers will take direct debits from it.
  • This will take a lot of planning initially but once set up, providing everyone pays on time, it should run smoothly.
  • There is the risk of overdraft charges, direct debits bouncing and late payment fees if a housemate forgets to make their payment into the account.

Each housemate has one bill in their name

  • One person pays for the water bill and is owed the money for that by the others.
  • Each housemate needs to be trusted to pay their bill and on time.
  • Every housemate must pay the others what they owe.
  • Some bills are cheaper than others so that must be factored into who owes what.
  • Creating a spreadsheet or tracker is a good idea.

Use a bill sharing company such as Glide

  • Glide will provide all the utilities and student broadband deals your house needs.
  • We will set up and connect the customer accounts needed with each utility company. A simple and stress-free solution for you.
  • Glide will then share out the cost of all the services provided between each housemate.
  • Each housemate will have a direct debit taken from their account on the same day.
  • You are only responsible for paying your direct debit. Glide will deal with any late payers so no need for awkward conversations over the breakfast table.
  • The monthly payment amount will be estimated on an ‘average’ use scale of each service provided. If you use less than the amount estimated then money will be refunded at the end of the contract. This is a great incentive to encourage your housemates to be environmentally and cost-conscious.
  • Companies like Glide will be slightly more expensive than arranging your own utilities, TV license and broadband. However, we think that the time, effort and stress we save you makes us pretty good value. Surely you don’t want to be stressing over setting the utilities up yourself, with payments going out of different dates (a budgeting nightmare) and working out who owes what when.

Record payments, money paid and owed on a spreadsheet and keep it stuck to the fridge or a notice board. This will allow you all to see where you are with the utility bills and if a housemate is not paying what they are owed it will be clear to everyone that a dreaded ‘house meeting’ over shared house bills is needed.