Living in a shared property means that as well as splitting rent and sharing communal spaces, you need to split and share the household bills.
This can get confusing when there’s a few of you living under one roof, all using the same amenities and you need to work out who owes what and when.
So, to make it easier, we’ve put together a guide that will help you and your housemates to pay on time and remain friends.
First of all, let’s take a quick look at the bills you need to pay. These include:
· Council Tax - paid monthly
· Gas and electricity bills – paid monthly
· Water bills – paid monthly
· TV license – paid monthly, quarterly, or annually
· Landline bill – paid quarterly or monthly
· Television and internet provider – paid monthly
These are the key bills you’ll be paying, but you might also want to split things like food shopping and household essentials.
Now you know what you need to pay for and how often all you need to do is make sure it happens.
Top tip: Chat with your housemates to determine the best way for you all.
Ways to pay your bills
This is by far the easiest, most common, and most convenient option for house shares.
By setting up a regular direct debit from one of your accounts, you’ll have peace of mind that everything will be paid on time (provided, of course, there’re enough funds in the bill-payer’s account).
If you’re the designated bill payer and you’re worried that your housemates aren’t going to pay on time, ask them to set up a standing order for their share of the bill to be paid direct to your account each month.
This way everything’s automated and you don’t even have to think about your bills and when they need paying.
If you’d rather not mess around with direct debits and prefer to pay in cash each month, you can collect your housemates’ share of the bills each month and pay them at a local bank or post office.
The downside to this method is that it relies on everyone being organised enough to have the right amount of cash, and at the right time each month.
Whichever method you choose, it’s worth making sure everyone completely understands their obligations, how much they need to pay, and when they need to pay it.
We’ll share some of the ways you can do this, but first let’s look at a few different ways you can split your bills fairly.
How to split your bills in a shared house
1. Everyone pays a bill each
You can set up a system where each housemate pays a bill or two in the hope that each person ends up paying a similar amount each month.
For example, someone might pay the TV license and broadband, while someone else pays the electricity and another the council tax.
Obviously, this works best if there’s just the right number of people and bills so everyone pays roughly the same amount.
2. One housemate pays
This isn’t as unfair as it sounds.
With this option, you all transfer your share of the bills into one housemate’s account each month and the bills get paid from there.
You might want to set up a separate account for this, or simply pay through an already-established account. Either way, this method relies on one housemate being responsible and organised enough to make sure the bills get paid on time.
3. Open a joint account
Now this might seem like the best option – you all have equal responsibility and all pay the same – but there are some caveats you’ll want to consider first.
Everyone involved in a joint account is affected by everyone else’s credit scores, so it’s only worth pursuing this option if you’re living with people you know and trust (and who won’t be tempted to dip into the account for payments outside of bills).
4. Split bills using an app
There are several apps you can use to help you navigate the tricky task of splitting utility bills. Tools like Glide and Splitwise let you easily determine who owes what. While apps like Venmo can be set up to send reminders to housemates who still need to pay.
Remember, each household will vary in their needs and expectations, so it’s best to discuss what’ll work best for yours.
Creating a system for splitting your bills
Setting up a system enables you to talk openly about what needs to be paid, by whom and when.
First of all, it’s important to stay organised. Each company will have different terms and conditions, so choose one housemate to take charge of all related correspondence regardless of who is paying what and when.
Then, create a shared spreadsheet that tracks who is doing what and when. Add to the spreadsheet:
· any correspondence with bill companies together with the date it was sent
· the bill-payment dates
· who has paid each month.
If you want something simpler than a spreadsheet, you can try using a notebook that is accessible to all and regularly updated.
Splitting bills is an important part of living in a house share, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare providing you’re organised and put in place a system that works for all.