Utility bills included properties are desirable for many student tenants because it releases them from the hassle of organising utility services and managing their monthly payments.
When you’re managing a portfolio of bills-included properties, it’s vital that your bill-management process is clear, efficient, and streamlined. Here is our guide for making this happen:
Be clear about what’s included
As a landlord letting a bills-included property, you need to be transparent in your contract about exactly which bills are included. The most basic bills are: electricity or gas, water and council tax (if you’re renting to students, they are exempt from paying council tax, but you will need to ensure that they have acquired an exemption certificate or you may be liable to pay the full tax).
After the essentials come other bills, such as Wifi and TV licence. It will be up to you whether you include these. Whatever you decide, the important thing is to be clear about what bills are included and which aren’t, or it could lead to a fractious relationship with your new tenants. For your own sake, it will also be essential to make sure that these costs are incorporated into the rental price – you don’t want to end up short-changing yourself.
Keep clear meter readings
Meter readings allow you to get the most accurate idea of the price you are paying for energy in each of your properties. This will enable you to make better informed decisions about when it comes to assessing energy suppliers; if you believe you are not getting the most competitive rates, a simple switch could save you money across all of your properties.
Taking accurate meter readings regularly will also allow you to anticipate the amount you expect to be billed and to keep track of tenants who may have bad energy-use habits or (which is even more likely in a student house) who may simply not know how to operate the thermostat. We don’t recommend tackling this too firmly – after all, they are your customers – but, if you happen to notice that their energy usage is high and they’re walking around in vests during December, then offering to demonstrate how to use the thermostat might not go amiss.
Have a business account
Setting up a business bank account is going to help you monitor and manage your finances if you’re managing bills across multiple properties. Even if your business is small, and you’re only managing two or three houses, keeping your business and private finances separate is going to be extremely helpful when you come to do your annual tax return.
Consolidate your bills
For years, direct debits have been a great way to keep on top of paying multiple bills on time. However, while direct debits certainly eradicate lots of the hassle around paying, they still create a lot of paperwork when it comes to your bookkeeping.
Thankfully, there is now a solution for this too. By using a managed landlord utility bill service, you can bundle the bills for multiple properties together. This means that, every month, you only have to pay and log one figure. This will keep your financial records simple and straightforward.
Keep organised records
Since all businesses have a responsibility to report accurate accounts to HMRC, it is vital that you keep organised financial records when you’re managing bills across multiple properties.
Using online accounting software can be really helpful for this, as they have been designed to keep all of your bookkeeping in one place. Some of these programmes will even offer reporting tools so that you can easily monitor your profits and losses.
What to do at the end of a tenancy
When it comes to managing your utility bills as a landlord, the end of a tenancy can be as important as the beginning. As well as taking a final meter reading, you need to consider what you may be charged while the property is empty.
If you’re renting to students and your properties are going to be empty for the summer months, then it’s well worth looking into reducing your tariff’s standing charge as some tariffs have a hefty standing charge which may mean that you get saddled with overpaying for utilities that no one is using.
Glide Switch enables letting agents to forego the hassle of setting up tenant utilities. Switch works by Glide taking over the current energy supply of a property before the new tenants move in. Glide Switch is also beneficial for the tenants as it combines the utility bills (gas, electric, broadband, water, TV licence) into one monthly payment for each individual tenant, making the responsibility shared.