Renting a student property with other people can be a really great experience! Not only is it an excellent opportunity to live and socialise with fellow students, but it can also be a more affordable alternative to other types of student accommodation.
That being said, sharing a student property with others poses the challenge of splitting living costs and payments. To help you to avoid miscommunications and disputes over finances, here are nine tips for managing bills and finances with your housemates:
1. Communicate openly and honestly with your housemates about bills and finances
Clear communication with your housemates when it comes to bills and finances should be a top priority.
There should be a mutual understanding between you and your housemates regarding financial expectations. You should discuss things like how you plan to split rent and bills, guidelines for payment, and the sharing of costs for common expenses.
It is important that you set boundaries from the get go. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and hopefully avoid any disagreements arising. If concerns about bills or finances do come up, deal with them together in a mature and understanding way.
2. Set up a system for paying rent and bills
One way to set clear expectations for household bills is to set up a system for paying them.
First, you will need to decide how they will get paid and by who. Some student households appoint one housemate to be the ‘lead tenant’, who collects all of the household’s members shares of the bills or rent each month, and pays in one go. This is a good option if you know that all members of the household are organised and will send the lead tenant the money on time. To ensure this, you could each set up a direct debit to the lead tenant.
Your housemates could also pay their shares of the bills or rent directly to the necessary recipients. Roome offers a bill splitting service to take the hassle out of this!
Another good way to keep on top of your household’s bills is to create a spreadsheet that tracks your payments. That way no one will accidentally miss a payment, which will hopefully save your household from arguments or incurring a late payment charge!
Being proactive when it comes to addressing financial issues is a key part of managing bills and finances with your housemates.
If one of your housemates misses a payment or is frequently late with payments, don’t ignore the problem. This will only cause the issue to grow and become more unmanageable, and perhaps lead to resentment. Approach the subject with your housemate in a kind manner, and try to come up with a solution together.
4. Be considerate of your housemates’ financial circumstances
Our last tip should come with a disclaimer! It is crucial that you remain considerate of your housemates’ financial circumstances. Times are particularly tough at the moment with the current cost of living crisis, so understanding that your housemates might be struggling is important.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should lay out for your housemate if they miss a rent payment, or turn a blind eye to them not paying their bills on time. However, you should always be respectful.
If your housemate is struggling financially, there are some ways that you could help without physically lending them any money. For example:
- Encourage them to reach out to the university. Universities often have hardship funds, or offer financial advice to students.
- If your housemate is finding it difficult to pay their bills, tell them to contact the utility provider. Your utility provider is obliged to work with customers to find alternative payment solutions.
- Be a supportive friend. Lend an ear and chat with your housemate about their situation if they feel comfortable.
5. Discuss energy usage
With the current energy price hike, it’s important that you and your housemates come to an agreement on energy usage. Deciding on things like when to turn the heating on and for how many hours per day is necessary to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.
6. Consider setting up a kitty or shared bank account
When it comes to managing shared costs such as toilet paper, washing up liquid or milk, a kitty or a shared bank account can really help with making sure that things are kept fair.
A kitty is a pot of money that each housemate pays into equally. The money is used for these common expenditures. For example, each housemate could pay £10 into the kitty each month. Setting up a kitty ensures that everyone contributes the same amount towards shared household costs, which will avoid any animosity brewing!
Alternatively, you and your housemates could set up a shared bank account to perform the same function.
7. Plan for unexpected expenses
Sometimes things don’t pan out the way you want them to! You and your housemates should be prepared for unexpected costs that might throw you off your budget. For example, you might have to pay for an emergency repair, or replace a broken appliance.
Consider setting aside a small amount of money into a shared emergency fund each month to cover these costs that can pop up. Hopefully you won’t have to use this money, but it’s always good to be prepared!
8. Don’t be afraid to negotiate
If you feel like you’re paying more than your fair share, don’t be afraid to speak up and negotiate a new arrangement with your housemates.
For example, if your bedroom is considerably smaller than another housemate’s and you feel as though you should be paying less rent, bring this up and suggest a new price.
It’s important to be open and honest about how you feel, and compromise with your housemates to find solutions that work for everybody.
9. Seek help externally if needed
If you’re having trouble managing bills and finances or resolving financial disputes with your housemates, don’t hesitate to seek advice or help.
Here are some possible routes that you can go take:
- Contact your university. There might be support or mediation services in place to help with situations of this kind.
- Reach out to your utility provider if bills aren’t getting paid on time.
- If the situation worsens, seek legal advice. Citizens’ Advice is a good first place to call, as they offer advice on matters of housing and money free of charge.
Roome offers services such as rent collection and bill splitting that will help you and your housemates to manage your bills and finances. Check out our website today to find your next hassle-free student property.
Be sure to check out the Roome website, where we post loads of tips and tricks for university students every single week. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to learn more about how we’re revolutionising the student housing market!
Posted by Owen Redman
Co-founder of Roome