Four Tips on Dealing with Bill-Avoiders

Bill Avoider

Four Tips on Dealing with Bill-Avoiders

Signing a tenancy agreement with a group of friends for shared rented accommodation is a huge commitment, and it requires a lot of trust. Not only will you have to consider whether you’ll all get along; but you’ll need to trust your housemates enough that they will pay their share of the bills.

As a student, money will be tight; and as much as your bill-evading tenant may claim that they will pay you back as soon as they can afford it, ultimately, it’s not fair that the rest of you have to cover the costs for them. However, this is an all-too familiar scenario for students up-and-down the country; according to Energy Choices, 40% of students have lived with someone who they’ve had to regularly chase for bill payments, and 41% have admitted to paying extra to cover the costs of bill-avoiding flatmates.

When signing up to energy providers, the option is to either have the bill under one name only – known as the ‘lead tenant – or to have all tenants’ names recorded. However, the energy providers will not care who owes what, they just want to be paid on time, which means that you will all be chased until someone pays what is owed. It is an awkward and unfair situation that no one should have to go through; but here are some tips on how to deal with that bill-evading housemate.


Set Down Ground Rules

Upon moving in, all housemates should sit down and have a serious discussion regarding the payment of bills. You will probably find that you’ll already be signed up to a gas and electricity provider and a water provider, who will have billed previous tenants. You will need to give them a call, and they’ll provide an estimate based on the number of tenants, how much bills will be. Alternatively, you can shop around to see if there are any cheaper providers.

Once you have decided which provider to go with, you and your housemates will need to arrange the payment of bills. It’s likely (my student house included), that one person will have the money deducted from their bank account, so the rest of you will need to transfer your share to them a few days in advance. For example, if gas and electricity is billed at £100 a month and there are five of you in the house, you will each need to set up a standing order of £20 to the lead tenant for each month that you will be in the property. Similarly, if the water is billed quarterly at £140, you will each need to set up a standing order of £28 every three months.

By setting up these orders well in advance of the first payment, housemates cannot claim that they’ve ‘forgotten’ to send you the money; and subsequently, monthly payments will be deducted without fail. Having this discussion should help you avoid the situation of a bill-avoiding flatmate in the first place.


Talk to your Housemate

This may sound simple, and it can be very frustrating having to constantly remind your housemate to pay their share, but it needs to be done. This is no excuse, but it’s likely to be the first time you and your housemates will be paying bills on top of rent (with University owned halls bills-inclusive); maybe they just didn’t realise that you will all be held accountable if they don’t pay their share. Reiterate this to them – say that while you appreciate money may be tight, you are all living on a strict budget and cannot (and should not) afford to cover their costs. Maybe they should consider getting a part time job, or arrange an overdraft? If your housemate is any kind of a friend at all, they will pay their share to avoid you covering for them – the rest of you shouldn’t be punished just because one tenant is frivolous with their money.


Take Legal Action

The option is there to sue your housemate if this has been going on for months, and you’re having to foot the bill. However, this is extremely difficult and costly – not only will you have to provide proof to your energy provider that your housemate owes part of the payment; but the cost of taking them to court is unlikely to be any more than what you are owed, and you won’t recover these costs back. Nevertheless, threatening your bill-avoiding housemate with legal action may spur them into paying you what they owe. If you want further information on this, head on over to Citizens Advice Bureau and find the nearest one in your area.

However, you can take precaution of this at the beginning of the tenancy; erasing all issues of bill-evading housemates…


Sign up to Glide

Set up specifically for students, Glide understands the issues of responsibilities of paying for joint bills. By signing up to them, they will divide the total cost of your bills per tenant, meaning every single one of you will be responsible for your share of the bills ONLY, regardless of whether one housemate decides not to pay. It’s quick and easy to sign up here, and it means you can enjoy your time living with your friends, without having to worry about fall outs over money.