Flat sharing 101
There can be a lot of admin when it comes to sharing a flat. Splitting bills, keeping communal areas tidy, and separating chores can lead to conflict. But it doesn’t have to. Find out how to create a peaceful shared living space, in particular how to manage your bills better together.
- Energy bills
- Broadband bills
- Cleaning fees
Finding the right energy plan for your shared flat
Who is responsible for the flat’s utility bills?
Before moving into a shared flat, you need to know who is responsible for paying bills in the house. Sometimes, the landlord of your property will take on the responsibility of paying bills, incorporating the cost into your rental agreement. Alternatively, some landlords leave the tenants to sort out their utility bills without any interference.
Which energy supplier do you like best?
Let’s begin with the latter. If you know that you and your fellow tenants will be responsible for organising your energy bills, you first need to figure out who you want to supply your property with gas and electricity. Of course, this is a decision you need to make together, depending on your energy requirements as a flat. If you are living in your first student flat, you may never have had to choose an energy plan before, and that’s okay! It’s actually very simple. You can check out all of the energy supplier guides on switch-plan.co.uk to find out which will be best suited for you.
What energy plan is best for you?
Now that you have decided which supplier you like the most, now you must choose a plan. Do you want a fixed tariff or a variable tariff? Dual fuel or single fuel? All of these are questions you need to ask yourself and each other. If you are a student or a young professional, you probably want to save as much money as possible on your energy bills. So, if this is your priority, make sure that you can all agree on how much you each want to budget for utilities. You don’t want anyone paying more than they are comfortable with, so be as transparent as possible before signing your energy contract.
Who’s going to be in charge of paying…?
Once you decide on your plan, you need to figure out who is going to be responsible for paying on behalf of everyone. If this is you, ensure that everyone pays you upfront before you make each monthly payment. You don’t want to be out of pocket, nor chasing up your flatmates for unpaid bills.
And that’s it! Make sure you’re not late paying your bills, as you could face penalties for this. If you are struggling to pay your bills, there are some government schemes that are designed to help you out. Moreover, if you want to make sure you are all pulling your weight and not over-using energy, you can get a smart meter installed so you can see who is using the most energy and might need to cut back.
Does your landlord pay your bills?
If your landlord pays your utility bills, you should get in touch and ask them what plan you are on. Even though your landlord pays your energy bills, the price of your energy usage will be incorporated into your monthly rent. So you still want to make sure that you are on the best plan possible for you. This might mean that you want to switch over to a different energy plan. However, you only have the right to switch energy plans if you are directly responsible for paying your energy bills. This will be outlined in your tenancy agreement.
Sorting out your broadband in your shared flat
There are a few things that you need to consider when choosing your broadband provider. Speed, data caps, and prices are all things you need to think about and decide upon together.
Choosing a broadband speed
If there are lots of you in your shared flat, you will need to choose a broadband plan that is speedy enough. If you all work or study from home, this will be even more important. If there are more than three tenants in your property, you should opt for a fibre broadband package, as this should provide the speed you all need to be able to work without any lags.
How much do you want to spend on broadband?
While keeping costs down is important in a shared flat, you shouldn’t compromise on speed if you require efficient broadband. It might be worth investing in a more expensive broadband plan to avoid the frustrations of slow internet.
Paying for broadband in your shared flat
Just like your energy bills, it might be easiest for one person to pay each month, while the other tenants all pay their share to that individual. Just make sure you keep track of who owes who, so you don’t have to have any uncomfortable situations about your finances!
Do you want to pay for a cleaner in your shared flat?
Avoid cleaning conflicts
The main point of contention in shared flats is often the cleanliness of communal spaces. If one person isn’t pulling their weight, this can cause real conflict. Therefore, it might be easier to have a cleaner come round every now and again to give the place a real clean. However, this might be an extra cost that some tenants don’t want to fork out for. If this is the case, then make sure that everyone is cleaning the communal spaces and keeping the place tidy. You might want to sort out a cleaning rota to make sure that no one is doing more than anyone else.
Sharing the costs of your house essentials is, well, essential. We recommend that you make a list of all the items that everyone in your household uses regularly, and then everyone can take turns buying them. If one person is buying all of the essentials, this is not only unfair, but can also cause a lot of house tension.
Other things to keep in mind
Communication is key
If you’re not happy about something, let the others know. If you are already friends with those you live with, this shouldn’t be too tricky. If you don’t know your flatmates very well, then let them know in a calm way that something is wrong. You don’t want to cause any conflict.
Letting them know your whereabouts is important as well. If you are going on holiday for a couple of weeks, let the others know! It’s good to have an idea about where you all are.
Be respectful about storage space
There’s limited space in shared flats. Therefore it’s important to use space wisely and not hog all the cupboards! You could even meal prep to compartmentalise all your food. Just be sure to keep everything tidy so that you don’t mess up other people’s things.
When living with others, it’s important to be open and transparent. Keep communal spaces tidy, be honest about what you can and cannot afford, and always make your utility payments on time.