If you are moving into privately rented accommodation off campus for the first time, you might be wondering what costs you will have to meet and how this might affect your finances. This factsheet aims to help you get an understanding of the costs involved.
Deposits, administration charges and rental costs
Most Landlords require a deposit to be paid before your tenancy is confirmed. This is usually returned to you at the end of your tenancy period, provided you and your housemates leave the property in a clean and tidy condition. The deposit amount can differ depending on the size of the property and the number of people you are living with. If you have an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, landlords are required by law to protect your deposit in a Government approved protection scheme. See the Warwick Students' Union Advice page for more information.
When looking at property to rent, you should confirm with the landlord or letting agent how much deposit you will be required to pay and any other administration or contract fees as you will need to factor this in to your budget. Also, be aware of how and when you will be required to pay your rent - will this be weekly, monthly, termly or quarterly? Do the payment dates match up to when your funding will be paid?
If you choose to rent a property through Warwick Accommodation, you won't be required to pay a deposit, summer retainer or agent's fees and you will pay your rent directly to the University in termly instalments. Visit the Warwick Accommodation pages for further information.
Your tenancy agreement will state which utility bills are your responsibility. Usually tenants are responsible for gas, electricity, water, broadband and phone charges. If the property is occupied solely by full-time students, you should not be liable for council tax payments. If part-time or non-students live in the property you may be required to make some payment. Your local council will often require evidence of your student status, for this you can request a Student Status Letter from the Student Reception in Senate House.
Utility bills are usually paid monthly or every three months. By being savvy, there may be ways to save money:
- You can often choose to pay your utility bills by direct debit, online or at banks or post offices. However, some suppliers provide customers with a discount if they pay by direct debit.
- It can be cheaper to obtain your gas and electricity from the same supplier, as some companies provide customers with a dual fuel discount.
- Always make sure you compare the different tariffs available so that you choose the best deal to suit your needs. You may find using a comparison website useful to quickly compare lots of different suppliers.
- For gas and electricity in particular, you will need to decide whether you want a fixed rate or a variable rate tariff. A fixed rate means that your costs per unit, will not increase during the agreed term. A variable rate might be cheaper but you could be subject to increases in the costs (although suppliers will provide notice of this in advance). If you do opt for a fixed term tariff, ensure that you when the tariff comes to an end you check for better deals elsewhere as you will automatically be placed on a Standard Variable Tariff, which is often more expensive than other deals you could be getting.
Remember to take meter readings for your gas, electricity and water on the day you move into the property, for example by taking a photograph of these on your phone, and submit up to date readings regularly. This will ensure your bills are accurate. Understanding gas and electric bills can be confusing - take a look at the USwitch guide to reading your bill for further help. Remember that as a tenant paying utility bills directly to the supplier, you are entitled to change your provider if you feel you would get a cheaper deal elsewhere. However, this could be subject to an early exit fee if you have signed up for a fixed term tariff.
If you have a television or watch live TV on your computer, tablet or mobile phone, you will need a television licence. If you have signed a joint tenancy agreement you will only need one licence for the house but if you have separate agreements you will need your own. There are a variety of ways to pay for a television licence, see the TV Licencing website for details. Remember that you may be liable for a large fine if you watch television without one!
The person named on the bill is legally responsible for paying it. You might want to discuss with your housemates about asking the companies to list you all on the bill or alternatively, each housemate taking charge of a different bill. You may also like to consider using a bill splitting app to separate the bills between you and your housemates, see Save The Student for more information.
Food and Household Expenses
You are probably already used to shopping for yourself, but there are a variety of household items that you could share the cost of, for example, tea and coffee, milk, cleaning products, toilet rolls and laundry powder. Why not set up a household kitty for these kinds of items? Sharing the costs can lead to savings for everyone and means that you can take advantage of bulk buy discounts.
You might be tempted to spend some money to make your new house feel more homely, but before you do, think if you really need it. There might be essential items that you need to buy and shopping around for these can really help your budget. Check local newspapers for second hand goods, try charity shops or ask friends and relatives if they can help.
Living off campus means that you may have some distance to travel into University. Consider your travel options carefully. Using your car may be more convenient, but the running costs may leave a huge dent in your budget. Pay and display parking on campus alone can cost £25 a week. Taking public transport, cycling or walking can be more budget and environmentally friendly! If you are considering public transport, remember that you can purchase travel passes that can often work out cheaper than buying daily tickets. Check with your travel provider for details.
Now you have an idea of the type of expenses involved in living off campus, you may wish to complete an example budget to see how far your money will go. Completing a budget before taking on a housing contract will ensure that you know how much you can afford and can help you to avoid over-committing yourself. You can complete the online budget planner by visiting warwick.unibudget.me.