Renting: Who pays council tax, bills & fees?

  • 17th Feb 21
Renting: Who pays council tax, bills & fees?

If you are not quite ready to get on the property ladder, or perhaps favour a more on-the-go lifestyle, chances are that you will have started thinking about renting and council tax. Renting is arguably a cheaper and more flexible option than buying a house, but renting fees are fairly complicated, shaped by questions like who pays the council tax when renting, and whether bills are included when renting a flat. If you are struggling to get your head around these factors, do not stress - our guide will run you through the fees you can expect, as well as who is responsible for what, when renting in the UK.

Who pays council tax when renting?

First things first - what is council tax? Council tax is a fee that you need to pay on any domestic property owned in the UK, and is collected - as the name suggests - by your council to pay for local services, ranging from schooling to rubbish collection. This tax needs to be paid by anyone who is over 18 and rents a home, and is determined by how much your local council charges, and the valuation of your home in the UK. This seems fairly simple, right? Not quite. The application of council tax, and the issue of who pays council tax when renting a flat will vary depending on a variety of factors like age, financial circumstance, and whether anyone is currently renting the property.

If you are the only person renting a home, the good news is that you only need to pay the full council tax fee if you are sharing the house with someone else. Those who live alone, or with children, get 25% off the council tax fee, while those who are renting below the age of 18 get 50% off. For those households with more than one adult occupant, the council tax is divided between the occupants, while the landlord pays the tax if no one is renting the property. Balancing student life with rental demands is difficult enough as it is, so you are entirely exempt from paying council tax if you count as a full-time student. If you are on a low income, it is also possible to apply for a reduction to this tax, so help yourself out and explore every possible avenue! Our dedicated team at Love to Rent will be more than happy to answer any queries you have about tax and fees, offering advice for any part of your move.

Are bills included when renting?

As well as council tax, some landlords include bills with your monthly rent, though this will largely depend on the circumstances of the landlord - for example, live-in landlords are likely to include bills more often, while landlords who live elsewhere are more likely to let tenants pay for bills themselves. Whether you prefer your bills included with the rent or paid separately, it is key that you accommodate your budget accordingly - the last thing you need is to be caught off guard with a surprise bill. To get a better sense of what you will be paying, read on below for a runthrough of what bills to pay when renting.                                                                                             

Utilities when renting a flat

The most essential bills are those that concern water, electricity and gas. To get to the bottom of questions like who pays the water bill when renting, it is important to read through your tenancy agreement carefully. In most cases, rent will include utilities and water costs, but this is not always the case. Look out for the words ‘bills included’ to get a clear indication of whether your utility costs will be covered by your monthly rent, and if you are still unsure, ask your landlord directly.

If you feel like you are not getting the very best deal on your gas or electricity, you might be wondering, can I change my energy supplier while renting? This will largely depend on whether or not your landlord pays your supplier for the energy you use, and should be outlined in your tenancy agreement. If you pay for energy bills directly, you do have the right to shop around for a deal more suited to your price range.

Service charge when renting a flat

As well as the potential cost of utility bills, make sure that you are aware of who pays service charge when renting, and be prepared to adjust your budget accordingly. Service charges are usually used to cover the cost of repairs and maintenance of your property. As with utility bills, you can work out who pays service charges when renting a flat by checking your tenancy agreement, which will outline what the landlord can charge you for, and for how much. Tenants are generally expected to pay service charges, but remember - you have the right to both be consulted about charges, and know what your money was spent on.

However, there are some cases where a landlord is expected to pay for upkeep of the property. Most tenancy agreements will (hopefully) state that the landlord intends to keep the property in a habitable state, so wherever this is not the case, it is the landlord’s responsibility to make amends. For example, if you are unsure about who pays for pest control when renting, this should be the responsibility of the landlord, unless they can prove that an infestation was caused by the negligence of the tenant - try not to leave any rubbish lying around! This is also true for the issue of renting and mould, though this problem is slightly more difficult to get to the root of. Thankfully, at Love to Rent, we strive to connect you with rental properties that are as secure and high-quality as possible, with landlords you can trust and communicate with throughout your stay

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