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Renting in London with bills included

Renting in London: are bills included?

What do you think is the top search term used by renters on Rightmove – the UK’s largest online real estate property portal: “Pets”? “Balcony”? “Furnished”? “Garden”? “Garage”? It’s none of these popular requirements – which all score highly. Amid a surge in rental prices post-pandemic – rent in London was up by almost 16% in 2022 compared to a year before – and mounting concerns about soaring energy costs, another search term has risen to the top of the rankings: “Bills included”.

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Unfortunately, the results of their search typically tell them what they don’t want to hear: that most UK private rental properties do not include utilities in the rent. And it’s easy to see why: according to research, the number of landlords offering tenancies inclusive of bills has fallen off a cliff, with 90% fewer listings in July 2022 versus January 2022.

With your “bills included” search complete, it’s important to carefully review the terms of the tenancy agreement or lease before signing to understand which utilities or bills are covered by the rent and which are the tenant’s responsibility. If any aspect is unclear, ask the landlord or letting agent for clarification before committing to the rental – so you avoid any nasty financial surprises.

If your bills are included

For the lucky few, the elusive “bills included” tenancy agreement typically includes a fixed cost for their energy usage (gas, electricity, and water) and broadband, and sometimes even TV licence and council tax – but not content insurance, which is their responsibility.

The landlord or letting agent kindly shoulders the responsibility of setting up and paying the bills each month on their behalf, which are absorbed by the all-inclusive rent. This attractive agreement makes it easier to budget – especially in the face of the energy crisis and increased cost of living – and helps avoid potential arguments over who pays or owes what in a shared property.

The landlord must not charge more than the supplier charges them, and they should not put bills in the tenant’s name without your agreement. However, they might be within their rights to charge more towards utility bills in the following situations:

  • There is a clause in your contract about utilities.
  • You sign a new tenancy agreement with different terms.
  • Your landlord increases your rent using other legal rules.

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If your bills aren’t included

If your bills aren’t included – which is the likely case – it’s your responsibility to set up and pay for them each month or quarter when you move in.

If you’re living in a shared property, the bill payments will need to be set up with a named account holder and a bank account for direct debit payments. Therefore, it’s important to think about how these payments will be split fairly while ensuring the bills are paid on time and everyone is comfortable with the risk they are taking on.

Simply London can help set up your utilities, internet, and council tax on your behalf once you’ve found your ideal home in London. They can also help arrange personal registrations: mobile phone and UK SIM card, bank account, National Insurance number, doctor, and insurance.

 

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This guide gives you all the detailed information to help you understand renting in London, including:

  • How to decide where to live in London
  • How to find a home to rent
  • How to make a rental offer
  • How deposits work and how much they cost
  • Understanding rental contracts, and how to check your tenancy agreement

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