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House-sharing - what happens when sharing the bills doesn't work out?

Updated on April 1, 2015

Big cities are great - but living there can be expensive and you may need to share a house to keep costs low

So, what can go wrong when people decide to share a house, and share the bills, and what can be done about it when it does?

For many people, their first experience of renting a property upon leaving the parental home is one where they share the house or apartment with others, often people that they do not know and haven’t met before.

One of the most common example of this situation is that of students who are sharing a flat or house whilst attending university or college but it is also happening increasingly often for those who have left full time education and have had to move away from home to a large town or city in order to get the job opportunity that they need in order to progress their career.

It seems sometimes that the very best job opportunities are only to be found in those places where it is the most expensive to live.

It isn't just the rent that has to be shared

Large city living has many plus points but all too often they come at a price. Property in large cities like London is expensive, whether buying or renting, and in many cases buying is out of the question due to stricter mortgage rules and higher deposit requirements.
With rental as the only option, many people find themselves having to share in order to keep the cost of living in a big city at an affordable level. They soon discover, however, that it isn’t just the rent that has to be shared – there are all the other expenses involved in running a home that have to be considered too.
It can be difficult, almost impossible, to know in advance how much electricity, gas, water, and so on, each person will use and what the total household bill will be. Most shared households will come to some kind of agreement but what happens if things don’t go according to plan.
One unavoidable fact is that, sometimes, people do not do what they say they will do and it is not certainly unknown or uncommon for a housemate to not pay their share of the household bills for the house or apartment that they are sharing with their housemates.
When this happens, all too often, the remaining housemates are left having to pay their share of the bills, and that of the missing participant as well.

It happens all the time but it can be avoided – here’s how.

Option one is to ask the landlord for a bills inclusive rent. This does what the name suggests – rolls all the expenses involved in the rented accommodation into one inclusive bill covering rent, utilities, TV licence and so on. The tenants make one payment, usually monthly, and have no worries about any of the setbacks outlined above.
If your landlord does not offer this service, and many don’t, then there is another option. There are now a number of specialist bill sharing companies out there who will do it all for you. You decide with your housemates which services you require and the bill sharing agreement is drawn up to cover it. Each participant is responsible for their own share – and not anyone else’s. If someone does not pay then the bill sharing company do the chasing.
What’s more, the inclusive bills agreement that the bill sharing company provide is designed to provide you with the very best deals available from gas, electricity and other service providers.

Don't leave it to chance, sort it out before the rental starts

So when you find yourself needing to share accommodation, for whatever reason, don’t leave it to chance when it comes to paying your fair share of the combined household bills, and no more – if your landlord doesn’t offer a bills-inclusive rent option then contact a specialist bill sharing company as soon as you decide on where it is you want to live – and let them do the rest, leaving you to concentrate on the other things that are important to you!

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