How to split the bills with your housemates
It’s exciting moving into a shared house but shared houses still come with bills … and with bills come a lot of potential for arguments. Read on to avoid those awkward and stressful moments so you can get on with the fun side of flatsharing.
Splitting the rent safely
There are a couple of options when it comes to splitting the rent. You can sign a joint tenancy, which makes you all responsible for the rent if it’s unpaid or an individual tenancy, which makes you responsible for just your share.
It’s vital you know which type of agreement you’re signing and what responsibilities you have.
For more information about affording rent, see our ‘help with the rent’ article.
Organise your bills ASAP
When you move in to your house share call a meeting to discuss all things money. It doesn’t have to be formal, no one has to take minutes but make sure you’re all on the same page and know exactly which bills need to be sorted and set up. These are the essentials:
- Rent (if you’re paying jointly)
- Council tax
- TV Licence
Who’s paying for what? And when? And how?
There are a number of ways you can split the bills responsibly:
- Each housemate pays a bill or two in the hope things balance out
Realistically, this is the easiest option as there’s no asking for money from anyone else each month. It obviously depends on how many of you there are and how easily the bills split. It’s going to be unlikely that you can split the bills completely evenly, so it depends if someone is happy to pay a bit more each month for ease.
- One housemate pays all the bills, then asks for money from the others each month
This option relies on one person being the organised one of the group. One housemate pays all the bills and then everyone else pays them. They can either set up a separate account for everyone to put money into under their name, or pay through their own account.
- Joint account
This may seem like a great way to pay all your bills, but you have to be wary of joint accounts. All those involved in the joint account will be affected by each other’s credit scores, so this may only be the best way if you’re living with trusted friends or your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner. There’s also the faith that no one will dip into the account for uses other than bills.
Set up direct debits/standing orders
Whether you’re in charge of the bill or you need to pay your housemates each month, setting up direct debits and/or standing orders can make your life a lot easier.
Organising with your Internet provider, for example, to take your money on a certain date by direct debit will ensure you don’t forget to pay up and you can agree on the best date, like pay day.
Standing orders to pay your housemates work in the same way. If you set them all up at the start of your tenancy then you won’t have to remember to transfer the money each month.
I’m struggling with money this month, how can I bring it up?
We all struggle with money sometimes and you shouldn’t feel ashamed about it. Life throws unexpected expenses at us, like a trip home to see a sick relative or a problem with your car.
If you can’t find a way to pay your bill share one month then bring it up with your housemates as soon as possible. If you feel uncomfortable, then maybe talk to the housemate you trust the most. Hopefully you’ll be able to work out an agreement of paying them back later on. Just be honest about your situation.
I need to chase a certain housemate, it’s awkward
No one likes to chase or be chased when it comes to money. It’s awkward for everyone involved.
If someone is slacking with owing their share of the bills then be sure not to sound accusing or aggressive. Word it something like: “Hey, I didn’t get your share of the water bill this month, do you want to check if it went through?” This sounds a lot more light and, you know, maybe there WAS just a problem with their bank.
Using apps to split bills
If you want to try and be fancy and keep up with technology, there are apps out there that can, in theory, help organise and pay your bills BUT they only work if all the housemates are on board. Be sure to do your research first – some apps charge for their services.
Even though it can feel frustrating working out bills it is a good life skill to get under your belt. Something to remind yourself of when you’re splitting a £300 winter energy bill.