This blog post aims to help readers in being able to answer the question of what the term bills included means when it is shown in a property listing or a tenancy agreement. We will start by explaining the term and its application when you rent a property in the UK, We will then proceed with analysing the pros and cons of having a “bills included” tenancy agreement and conclude by sharing some sources of financial support that one may seek for payments related to their energy bills.
What Do Bills Included Mean?
The term ‘bills included’ means that the rent of a property will include expenses related to the property’s amenities such as the following:
- heating charges
- water costs
- council tax payments
- gas and electricity bills
In some cases, it can also include payments related to TV licence and broadband.
Whatever the case may be, the term should ideally be added to the tenancy agreement to list down which of the tenant’s bills are included in their monthly rental payments. So that they can budget their remaining expenses accordingly.
Under a “bills included” tenancy, the landlord or letting agent becomes responsible for timely payments of the said bills as the tenant (and user) would have been relieved of the responsibility when they pay their rent along with the costs of utilities being covered in their rental payments.
When you are searching for a property to rent, you may find certain listings that are marked as “bills included”. These properties may charge a higher rent than others of similar size and properties and the reason for a higher rent is the fact that all housing expenses are included in the rent.
It may not be possible for a tenant to request a “bills included” arrangement as it is at the discretion of the landlord that such an arrangement is made.
However, a tenant should keep track of these additional payments such as utilities and council tax bills to confirm the differential amount in amenities versus the actual rental payment.
While landlords may charge a fixed amount under a “bills included” understanding, tenants may be able to reduce their utility expenses by reducing consumption. Similarly, a change in the number of family members in the household can affect the tenant’s council tax bill; which may not be reflected in the fixed amount charged by a landlord.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of A “Bills Included” Tenancy?
There are many pros and cons of a “bills included” tenancy. It is advisable for tenants seeking a property to weigh these in before they decide the kind of tenant agreement that would suit them.
Below is a quick evaluation of having the expenses for your housing amenities included in your rent:
|Pros of a “bills included” tenancy||Cons of a “bills included” tenancy|
|Your budget is simplified with a fixed cost of rent and housing expenses.||Some tenants might believe that they may be able to reduce some of the housing costs such as utility expenses if the amount was not fixed.|
|There are fewer responsibilities for the tenant as the landlord takes care of managing payments of bills.||Certain tenants might want to keep control of managing their own payment of bills and track the charges.|
|Flat rates of bills being included in the rental payments avoid a sudden increase in bills (esp heating and gas) during the winter.||Rents of properties with a “bills included” tenancy is higher than similar properties with a rent-only tenancy.|
That said, this article from The Guardian suggests that “bills included” is one of the most searched terms on the housing website Rightmove when it comes to rental properties; mainly due to rising energy costs in the UK.
However, whether or not someone prefers to have their bills included at a flat rate in their tenancy agreement is a personal choice. While some renters will find a fixed monthly payment to be convenient and easy to budget; others might believe that they will be better able to control their bills on their own especially when it comes to energy consumption.
How Can I Get Help With My Energy Bills?
You can get help from your local council authorities to pay your energy bills, that is gas and electricity charges. Under the current Energy Bills Support Scheme, you can get a rebate of £150 from your council tax to pay your energy bills.
Earlier this year, the Government announced the Energy Bills Support Scheme for households that are struggling to pay their energy bills in the UK. This is a £400 non-repayable discount to help with energy bills from October 2022. You will not have to inquire about this from your energy supplier as all domestic consumers in the UK will be provided with the discount automatically.
If you get benefits, you will be able to get a £150 discount on your electricity bill under the Warm Home Discount. You can also have this amount added to your prepayment meter.
Additionally, you can get a fuel voucher from your council to top up your prepayment meter if you cannot afford to do it by yourself. In this case, you should not be using gas or electricity for heating your home.
Tenants who were born before the year 1956, can claim the Winter Fuel Payment this year as it is an annual one-off payment applicable for residents of State Pension Age. You may be able to get an additional amount of £300 with your usual claim.
When the weather gets too cold, you can apply for a Cold Weather Payment if you claim Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Support For Mortgage Interest.
If you are on benefits, you can avail of the Fuel Direct Scheme to pay your energy debts through a direct deduction from your benefits payments. If your energy suppliers are unable to help, other organisations provide financial assistance for individuals through grants.
The above discussion has highlighted the meaning of a “bills included” tenancy. This is a form of tenancy agreement that includes costs of different amenities such as utility bills, heating costs, council tax payments and in some cases, even your TV license and broadband fee.