Are student renters allowed to switch their utility bills?

So, you’re moving into student accommodation or you have lived there for while, but think that your utility bills are way too high. You’re probably right. Gas, electricity and internet bills are generally way too high in student households because young people aren’t generally aware of their right to switch. Utility companies will 9 times out of 10 put you on their most expensive tariff and hope that you won’t realise. Most of the time people don’t, so they continue to pay sky high rates for no reason all year round. It’s time to change that! No matter where you’re studying, no matter how long you are staying in your accommodation, you have the right to switch! Let’s find out how:

Broadband

An integral part of any student house, a broadband connection that is cheap but reliable is no so hard to find if you know where to look. It is likely that if you are entering a standard, non-private (halls) house, you will be left to sort out your internet connection yourself. This is the best scenario possible, as there are plenty of deals catered towards students that you can choose yourselves. It is likely that you will be pitched the idea of super fast fibre optic broadband, but you should definitely think first about what you’ll be using your internet for.

If you think that your house could deal with standard ADSL speeds up to 30mbps which are still very high, then you should go for the ADSL, cheaper option. It is true that if there is a large number of people living in your house, a faster, fibre optic connection would be worthwhile to help handle the amount of connected devices; however, the more people, the more people to split the cost with.

Virgin Media have been extremely popular in recent years, providing catered student deals to last as long as your tenancy contract goes on for. It is important to think about the length of your contract, because if you are forced to cancel your contract before the predetermined date, which you will have to do if it extends past your tenancy, you could be subject to some pretty hefy exit fees.

Gas and electricity

Switching your gas and electricity tariff is perhaps the number one way of saving money in any household, but perhaps the one that the largest amount of people forget about. Since 1990, people across Great Britain have had the right to switch, but millions of people across the country are still paying for the most expensive tariffs and receiving the exact same product as everybody else.

Not only is this option open to homeowners, but it is also available for all types of renters, including students. Even if you are staying for a semester, all students are allowed to switch their energy tariff, by law, with or without their landlord’s permission. What you do have to be careful about, however, is the length of the contract that you make. If you sign up for a contract that is longer than your tenancy, you may have to pay the exit fees if you don’t have the landlord’s permission to carry it over to the next tenant. This shouldn’t really be a problem, as they stand to gain no financial reward and it will benefit the next tenants.

There are many tariffs available, ranging massively in price. Don’t be put off by names you have not heard of when making a comparison. As long as you use a respectable comparison engine, such as Selectra or USwitch, all products will be identical. Before you rush into the cheapest tariff on the list; however, you should bear in mind a couple of things:

  • Length of the contract
  • Your meter type
  • Any exit fees for early termination of your contract
  • Is it a fixed or variable rate (can it rise in price?)
  • The customer service ratings of the company
  • How renewable is your supply
  • Standing charges

Water

Unfortunately there is not really anything that you can do about your water bill. There are currently 25 water companies that are each locally situated and have a monopoly on their supply region. You should, however, consider how your water bill is accounted for in your tenancy agreement. Many students believe that it’s best to have their bills included in the price of their rent; however, many landlords will massively overcompensate and charge you a huge amount over what you would usually pay, solely for your ‘convenience’ of having all bills taken care of.