Bills, bills, bills.

Water rates
Most water companies send two half yearly bills but you can arrange to change this to monthly payments to help with your budgeting. If you are renting you should find out if your landlord includes this bill in with your rent. Council tax Check whether you are paying council tax unnecessarily. If you are a student and you are sharing a house with other students you are exempt from payment. You will need to claim exemption by submitting proof of student status (supplied at enrolment) to the City Council for all residents of the house or flat. If a member of your household is employed you may be required to pay a share of the bill. (It is therefore advisable to contact your local council tax office to clarify the situation).

Gas and electricity
If you can, find out the cost of last year’s energy bills to help you prepare your monthly budget. Ring your gas and electricity suppliers and give them your moving-in date and arrange for them to carry out a meter reading for that date. You must do this as soon as you know who your suppliers are or you may become liable for the previous occupant’s dept! The names of the companies that supply your new property should be given to you by your landlord. Also confirm any intial meter readings with your landlord Otherwise to find out your electricity supplier call 0845 601 3268 and for your gas supplier call 0870 608 1524. Once you know who your suppliers are provide them with your address and postcode and they will arrange to take a meter reading. Take a reading of the meters yourself as well. Each supplier will give you a new account number which will be listed on your new fuel bills when they arrive. Make sure the supplier’s readings correspond with your own meter readings.

TV license
This bill has to be paid once a year but you can arrange this online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk

Heating arrangements
When looking around potential homes to rent, check to see what heating system is used. Modern gas boilers are much more efficient than older ones. If the property has electric heating find out if it is on an off-peak tariff such as economy 7 storage heating. Also insist on seeing the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to see how the energy use of the property compares with others. EPCs are now a legal requirement. Insulation When looking around potential homes to rent or buy, check to see what Insulation measures have been installed. Find out if the loft and/or walls have been insulated and check if outside doors and windows have had draught proofing strips fitted.

If you get into debt
If you get into debt, in the first instance, you should contact whoever you are in debt to and they will help you to find a way to pay your arrears in a way that you can manage. Seek advice for your Students’ Union Advice Centre or University Student Support and Wellbeing, who will be able to help and advise you. The penalties for failing to resolve debt problems can be severe.

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