To help you out, here are some of our top tips to help you manage the money that comes into your home.
#1 Take out contents cover for your personal possessions
When you rent, your landlord is responsible for taking out buildings insurance to protect the property (unless your contract specifies otherwise), but you're responsible for taking care of your own belongings, which means that contents cover is essential.
The most cost-effective type of contents cover for youwill vary depending on your personal circumstances and whether you're house-sharing or not. If it's just you and your family living in the property, then you should use comparison sites to find the best quotes in the shortest amount of time. Make the effort to also check companies who are not listed on comparison sites, a simple Google search will help.
If you house-share, however, it can be extremely hard to find mainstream insurers who are willing to cover you. You will generally be viewed as a higher risk than the average family, although a lock on the door to your bedroom should help to push prices down a bit. Comparison sites will probably be of little use to you, as their technology can struggle to provide accurate quotes for shared accommodation. They can be helpful in providing you with a rough idea of costs, but for the actual purchase, it is best to use a specialist broker. Never lie about your living circumstances to make it easier to insure yourself, as you could risk invalidating your insurance.
#2 Consider switching your energy company
Tenants can save by switching their energy providers. You don’t need to own the property you're living in order to do so, so don't feel obliged to stick with your current gas or electricity firm. Although some tenancy agreements will state that you can't switch, energy regulator Ofgem specifies that renters should not be unreasonably prevented from doing so. For the sake of politeness, however, you should always tell your landlord or letting agency before switching.
If you're worried that they might say no, do your research and present them with some facts, demonstrating why it would be beneficial to change providers. The exception to this will be if you pay your landlord to cover these costs as part of your rent.
#3 Switch your prepaid gas or electric meter
Just as changing your energy provider can save you money, so can switching your meter. Provided that you pay the energy company directly, there will be no detriment to your landlord when you switch. If you want to change the physical meter itself, however, you must inform the property owner. If they agree, be sure to request that this is put into writing, as changing the meter could be viewed as altering the property from its original condition which, unless you have permission to do so beforehand, would be likely to violate your tenancy agreement.
#4 Ask your landlord's permission before redecorating
The average tenancy agreement will stipulate that a property must be returned in the same condition as it was let, with the exception of unavoidable wear and tear. This means that if you choose to redecorate, everything must be restored to its original condition before your tenancy ends.
As obvious as it sounds, the property belongs to someone else and final control of it rests with its owner, your landlord. This means that you can’t erect shelves, for example, unless you have specifically been permitted to do so. If you do want to make permanent changes, ask your landlord beforehand, and get their agreement in writing. You may not want to spend your money redecorating if you’ll have to restore the property to its original state as soon as you're done. Checking in advance will save you from spending unnecessarily. You never know unless you ask, and your landlord might be glad of someone redecorating on their behalf!
#5 Ensure that you have adequate download limits
If you house-share, there will likely be lots of people regularly downloading things, so it's essential that you have a decent download package as part of your broadband. If you forget to check how much you actually get from that brilliant deal you signed up for, you could be looking at a hefty bill courtesy of your flat mate's YouTube video marathons. Do your research to work out how much data you'll actually need before you sign on the dotted line, and you could save yourself a lot of money.